Natural gas futures advanced to a one-week high on Thursday, after a government report showed inventories fell more than-projected in the week ended March 21st, widening the deficit to the five-year average to a record and reaching the weakest level for this time of the year since 2003.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in April traded at $4.469 per million British thermal units at 14:47 GMT, up 1.68% on the day. Prices held in a daily range between $4.481, the highest since March 19, and $4.367 per mBtu. However, the contract registered a second weekly decline and settled last 5-day period 2.4% lower, after losing 4.4% in the previous week.
EIAs weekly US gas storage report
The Energy Information Administration reported today that US natural gas inventories fell by 57 billion cubic feet in the seven days through March 21st, more than analysts’ median forecast of a 52 billion cubic feet drop and compared to a withdrawal of 90 billion cubic feet the same week a year ago. However, the decline was more than 8 times larger than the five-year average drop of 7 bcf during the comparable period.
Total gas held in US underground storage hubs fell to a 11-year seasonal low of 896 billion cubic feet. US gas stockpiles were 50.1% below last year’s amount of 1.795 trillion cubic feet during the comparable week. The deficit to the five-year average widened to a record 50.8%, up from 47.9% a week earlier.
Inventories at the East Region received a net withdrawal of 39 bcf and fell to 356 bcf, 54.1% below the five-year average of 775 billion cubic feet. Stockpiles in the West Region fell by 3 bcf to 164 bcf and were 44% beneath the average. Inventories at the Producing Region slid by 15 bcf. At 376 bcf, they were 50.1% below the five-year average amount of 754 billion cubic feet.
US weather outlook
A brief warm-up is expected to take place over the central and eastern US Thursday and Friday as a fresh weather system develops over the central Plains, NatGasWeather.com reported on March 27. The latter will strengthen into a fairly decent springlike storm as it slowly sweeps across the US over the next few days, with showers and thunderstorms.
Chilly air will gradually push into the highest-consumption states of the northern US over the weekend, when another weather system may draw down cold Canadian air. Another brief-warm-up is expected early next week.
However, NatGasWeather.com’s extended forecast for the period April 4th-April 10th, called for a potentially strong springlike storm to track across the central and eastern parts of the country over the first few days of the outlook period. Temperatures will gradually modify, which will lead to near or just slightly below-normal temperatures for much of the US, significantly easing natural gas and heating demand.