Natural Gas Price Flat After Storage Total Rises

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 54 billion cubic feet for the week ending April 14. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts were expecting a storage injection of between 47 billion and 51 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is an injection of around 35 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage injection for the week totaled 6 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories rose by 10 billion cubic feet in the week ending April 7.

April 1 marked the beginning of the natural gas injection season. We should expect the nation’s stockpiles to continue rising through the end of October.

Natural gas futures for May delivery traded down by about 0.1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.17 per million BTUs, and traded around $3.16 shortly after the data release. Natural gas closed at $3.19 per million BTUs on Wednesday, about 0.1% lower than the five-day high of $3.23 set last Thursday. The 52-week range for natural gas is $2.69 to $3.60. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $2.79.

According to Platts Analytics Bentek Energy, week over week, total supply was nearly flat in each component of U.S. production, Canadian imports, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) sendout. Demand, however, changed significantly, with residential and commercial demand accounting for the largest drop, down an average 3.7 billion cubic feet per day.

Power demand was the next largest mover, down an average 1 billion cubic feet per day from the previous week’s levels. The remainder of demand sources, industrial demand, LNG feed gas demand, Mexican exports, and pipe loss accounted for a combined 7 billion cubic foot drop week over week

Stockpiles fell week over week to about 15% below last year’s level, and are now 15.4% above the five-year average.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 2.115 trillion cubic feet, around 282 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 1.833 trillion cubic feet and 368 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 2.483 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 up about 0.7% at $81.08 in a 52-week range of $80.30 to $95.55.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded up about 1.8% to $5.60. The stock’s 52-week range is $3.56 to $8.20.
  • EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded up about 0.2% to $93.43. The 52-week range is $77.04 to $109.37.

Also, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEMKT: UNG) traded down about 0.5%, at $7.52 in a 52-week range of $6.36 to $9.74.