The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 87 billion cubic feet for the week ending October 6. Analysts were expecting a storage injection of between 84 billion and 94 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is an injection of 87 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage injection for the week totaled 79 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories rose by 42 billion cubic feet in the week ending September 29.
Natural gas futures for November delivery traded up about 1.8% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $2.96 per million BTUs, and traded down slightly at $2.95 shortly afterward. The highest close for the past four trading days was registered on both Tuesday and Wednesday at $2.89. The 52-week range for natural gas is $2.83 to $3.65. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $3.28.
The EIA on Wednesday released its “Winter Fuels Outlook” with a forecast calling for average household expenditures on all major home heating fuels to rise this winter due to expected colder weather and rising energy prices. The agency forecasts natural gas spending will increase by 12%, spending on home heating oil will rise by 17%, electricity prices will rise 8% and propane prices are forecast to rise by 18%.
On average, winter temperatures are forecast to be 13% colder than last year, which the EIA said was significantly warmer than normal. About half of all U.S. homes are heated with natural gas.
Total U.S. stockpiles rose slightly week over week to 4.1% below last year’s level and remain 0.2% below the five-year average.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 3.595 trillion cubic feet, around 8 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 3.603 trillion cubic feet, and 153 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 3.748 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 the latest report:
- Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded down about 0.4%, at $82.28 in a 52-week range of $76.05 to $93.22.
- Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded down about 1.5% to $3.89. The stock’s 52-week range is $3.55 to $8.20.
- EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded down about 0.9% to $96.67. The 52-week range is $81.99 to $109.37.
Also, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEMKT: UNG) traded up about 1.5%, at $6.41 in a 52-week range of $6.15 to $9.74.