The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 43 billion cubic feet for the week ending August 18. Analysts surveyed by S&P Platts Global were expecting a storage injection of between 39 and 50 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is an injection of 50 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage withdrawal for the week totaled 12 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories rose by 53 billion cubic feet in the week ending August 11.
Natural gas futures for October delivery traded up about 1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $2.97 per million BTUs, and rose to $2.98 shortly after the report was released. The highest close for the past five trading days was registered Monday at $2.99. The 52-week range for natural gas is $2.80 to $3.62. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $3.04.
Domestic demand for natural gas in the week ahead is expected taper from last week’s total as cooler temperatures will move into the central and east-central parts of the country. High temperatures remain in the forecast for the west and south, but not high enough for long enough to push demand up. Overall demand is expected to be moderate next week.
Stockpiles fell week over week to 6.7% below last year’s level but remain 1.5% above the five-year average.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 3.125 trillion cubic feet, around 45 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 3.080 trillion cubic feet and 223 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 3.348 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.
Here’s how share prices of the largest U.S. natural gas producers reacting to this latest report:
- Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded down about 0.1%, at $76.50 in a 52-week range of $76.85 to $93.22.
- Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded up about 0.3% to $3.90. The stock’s 52-week range is $3.76 to $8.20.
- EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded down about 0.2% to $84.97. The 52-week range is $83.29 to $109.37.
Also, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEMKT: UNG) traded up about 0.9%, at $6.63 in a 52-week range of $6.20 to $9.74.