Energy Economy

Natural Gas Price Ticks Lower After Inventory Report

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stockpiles decreased by 78 billion cubic feet for the week ending February 8.

Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a storage withdrawal of around 84 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is a withdrawal of 160 billion cubic feet, and last year’s withdrawal totaled 183 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories fell by 237 billion cubic feet in the week ending February.

Natural gas futures for March delivery traded down about a penny in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $2.59 per million BTUs, and dipped to around $2.58 after the report was released.

For the period between February 14 and February 20, expects “moderate” demand and offers the following outlook:

Mild conditions with highs of 40s and 50s will return across the S. Great Lakes to Northeast Thu-Fri. The West will be cool to cold with areas of heavy rain and snow. The southern US will be warm with highs of 60s to 80s, although cooling Sun-Tue. This weekend through Wed will be quite chilly as cold air sweeps across much of the country with lows of -10s to 20s North and 20s to 40s over the South. Late next week, mild high pressure will build across the southern and eastern US with highs of 50s to 80s returning, warmest over the South.

Total U.S. stockpiles increased week over week, rising to just 1.6% below last year’s level and to 15% below the five-year average.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 1.882 trillion cubic feet at the end of last week, around 333 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 2.215 trillion cubic feet and 30 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 1.912 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 0.2%, at $76.43 in a 52-week range of $64.65 to $87.36.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded up about 0.8%, at $2.51 in a 52-week range of $1.71 to $5.60.
  • EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded up about 0.4%, at $97.14. The 52-week range is $82.04 to $133.53.

Furthermore, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEARCA: UNG) traded down about 0.6%, at $23.04 in a 52-week range of $21.61 to $39.87.

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