The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks decreased by 152 billion cubic feet for the week ending February 3. Analysts were expecting a storage decline of around 155 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is a withdrawal of around 138 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage decline for the week totaled 70 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories fell by 87 billion cubic feet in the week ending January 27.
Natural gas futures for March delivery traded up by about 1.2% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.16 per million BTUs, and traded flat to Wednesday’s close immediately after the data release. Natural gas closed at $3.13 per million BTUs on Wednesday, after falling from a high of $3.21 last Thursday. The 52-week range for natural gas is $2.47 to $3.83. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $2.74.
Demand for natural gas is expected to be low over the course of the next week, following a surge as a strong storm rolls through the Great Lakes and East Coast today. Warm temperatures are on tap for the Southern states.
Stockpiles have now dropped to 11.3% below their levels of a year ago, and 1.8% above the five-year average.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 2.559 trillion cubic feet, around 45 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 2.514 trillion cubic feet and 325 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 2.884 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.
Here’s how share prices of the largest U.S. natural gas producers reacted to today’s report:
- Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded up about 0.6%, at $81.97 in a 52-week range of $77.58 to $95.55.
- Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded up about 3.1% to $6.31. The stock’s 52-week range is $1.53 to $8.20.
- EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded up about 1.9% to $99.99. The 52-week range is $62.53 to $109.37.
Also, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEMKT: UNG) traded up about 0.2%, at $7.86 in a 52-week range of $5.78 to $9.74.