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Smallish natural gas storage build shrinks surplus to 5-year average

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 28-Bcf injection into natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week that ended Aug. 4 that was below market expectations and historical averages.

The market consensus ahead of the report's release called for a 36-Bcf build to stocks, against respective year-ago and five-year average injections of 24 Bcf and 54 Bcf.

The build brought total U.S. working gas supply to 3,038 Bcf, or 275 Bcf below the year-ago level and 61 Bcf above the five-year average storage level of 2,977 Bcf.

September natural gas futures were slightly higher just ahead of the midmorning release of the latest storage figure, trading 1.3 cents higher at $2.896/MMBtu after reaching a $2.919/MMBtu intraday high earlier in the session. Following the report's 10:30 a.m. ET release, the contract jumped to a $2.960/MMBtu high but backed off the peak to trade 7.4 cents higher at $2.957/MMBtu at last look.

In the East, inventories were up 22 Bcf on the week at 673 Bcf, or 9.5% below the year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were up 17 Bcf at 771 Bcf, or 8.4% below the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels were up 2 Bcf on the week at 202 Bcf, or 6.0% below the year-ago level, while in the Pacific region, storage levels were down 4 Bcf at 289 Bcf, or 8.0% below the year-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were down a net 9 Bcf on the week, stocks are at a deficit of 7.9% to a year earlier.

Working gas stocks in the South Central region totaled 1,103 Bcf, with 299 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and 804 Bcf in non-salt cavern facilities. Working gas stocks were down 7 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and down 2 Bcf in non-salt cavern facilities since the previous week.

Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power, natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities Pages.