The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks decreased by 43 billion cubic feet for the week ending March 24. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts were expecting a storage decline of 43 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is a withdrawal of around 27 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage increase for the week totaled 19 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories fell by 150 billion cubic feet in the week ending March 17, the largest ever recorded that late in the heating season.
Natural gas futures for April delivery traded down by about 1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.20 per million BTUs, and traded at $3.19 shortly after the data release. Natural gas closed at $3.23 per million BTUs on Wednesday, the highest closing price in the past week. The 52-week range for natural gas is $2.56 to $3.65. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $2.63.
Platts analyst Mitch DeRubis said:
Week over week, U.S. demand averaged nearly 16.9 [billion cubic feet per day] lower than the previous week as temperatures warmed over the majority of the country. The large residential and commercial centers of the Midwest and Northeast regions saw temperatures average 14.8 and 10.9 degrees, respectively, warmer than the previous week contributing greatly to the week-over-week decline in U.S. demand.
Stockpiles fell week over week to 17% below last year’s level and are now 13.9% above the five-year average.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 2.049 trillion cubic feet, around 250 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 1.799 trillion cubic feet and 423 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 2.472 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.
Here’s how share prices of the largest U.S. natural gas producers react to this latest report:
- Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded up about 0.8%, at $82.70 in a 52-week range of $80.31 to $95.55.
- Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded down about 0.3% to $5.79. The stock’s 52-week range is $3.53 to $8.20.
- EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded up about 0.8% to $97.80. The 52-week range is $69.66 to $109.37.
In addition, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEMKT: UNG) traded up about 0.1% at $7.64 in a 52-week range of $6.36 to $9.74.