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US working natural gas volumes in underground storage rise 81 Bcf on week: EIA

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Build comes in 6 Bcf below five-year average

Henry Hub summer strip retreats

Denver — US natural gas stocks increased by 81 Bcf last week, which was directly in line with market expectations, but the remaining Henry Hub summer strip fell further Thursday as demand is expected to dip moving forward.

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The amount of natural gas in US storage facilities increased 81 Bcf in the week that ended May 15 to 2.503 Tcf, the US Energy Information Administration said Thursday.

The injection matched the consensus expectations of an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts. Responses to the survey ranged from an injection of 67 Bcf to one of 99 Bcf.

The injection was 19.9% smaller than the 101 Bcf build reported during the same week last year as well as 6.9% below the five-year average addition of 87 Bcf.

Cooler-than-normal temperatures boosted residential and commercial demand in the East and Midwest storage regions last week. Across the Eastern and Central US, total demand increased about 4.5 Bcf/d, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. Upstream, total supplies increased slightly due to a 400 MMcf/d rise in Canadian imports. Supply for the week averaged 92.6 Bcf/d, or about 16.4 Bcf/d higher than the average 80.2 Bcf/d of total demand.

Storage volumes now stand 779 Bcf, or 45%, above the year-ago level of 1.724 Tcf and 407 Bcf, or 19.4%, higher than the five-year average of 2.096 Tcf.

Henry Hub opened the week with a rally on news of a planned production curtailment by EQT, the country's largest natural gas producer. The company instated a roughly 1.4 Bcf/d temporary production cut, which sent the balance-of-summer strip nearly 12 cents higher, settling at $2.02 on Monday after trading down to $1.90 last Friday. However, most of the bullish sentiment has retreated as prices have shed most of those gains. The strip was trading at $1.91 Thursday afternoon, keeping spreads to next winter at 81 cents/MMBtu.

Platts Analytics' supply and demand model expects a 108 Bcf addition to US storage volumes for the week ending Friday. Such a build would be 15 Bcf higher than the five-year average.

Sizable declines in residential and commercial demand have outpaced an otherwise huge drop in onshore production for the week in progress. Total US demand has averaged 5.7 Bcf/d lower compared with the week prior to average 74.5 Bcf/d. The Midwest and Northeast regions account for a 6.5 Bcf/d decline.

However, US level gas-fired power demand is up this week, increasing by 2 Bcf/d in the Southeast and Texas. Upstream, supplies fell on a quick pullback in production. Northeast production is down by 1.4 Bcf/d week over week, according to Platts Analytics. Production also fell by 600 MMcf/d in Texas, and another 500 MMcf/d in the Midcontinent region, which includes the Bakken and SCOOP/STACK.

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