Natural gas futures moved higher Thursday morning after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a storage injection that was less than what the market was expecting.

EIA reported a 37 Bcf storage injection in its 10:30 a.m. EDT release, about 9 Bcf less than what traders were anticipating. The 37 Bcf, however, did include a downward revision of 5 Bcf in the Pacific Region, thus leaving the implied injection flow at 42 Bcf for the week.

August futures reached a high of $2.945 immediately after the figures were released, and by 10:45 a.m. August was trading at $2.887, up 2.4 cents from Wednesday's settlement.

The 5 Bcf adjustment in the Pacific Region is likely due to an adjustment posted by SoCalGas on its website Monday (June 20) and picked up in the storage report for the week ended June 24. "SoCal announced on May 26 they would be adjusting system inventory down by 4.62 Bcf due to adjustments applicable to Aliso Canyon storage. However, the change was not actually reported on the SoCal website until this Monday," industry consultant Genscape said in a report (see Daily GPI, June 23).

“The number came out 37 Bcf and we were looking for 46 Bcf," said a New York floor trader. "We were trading $2.89 to $2.90 before the number came out, so we retraced back to where we were."

Even with the adjustment, traders saw the report as supportive. "The DOE reported a 37 Bcf net increase in U.S. natural gas storage for the week ended June 24, but the data did include a 5 Bcf reclassification of working gas as base gase," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective." The implied flow was therefore a somewhat less bullish 42 Bcf. Even so, this was less than the 46 Bcf consensus expectation and implied a tighter supply-demand balance, a bullish outcome."

Inventories now stand at 3,140 Bcf and are 582 Bcf greater than last year and 637 Bcf more than the five-year average. In the East Region 20 Bcf was injected, and the Midwest Region saw inventories increase by 18 Bcf. Stocks in the Mountain Region rose 4 Bcf, and the Pacific Region was lower by 3 Bcf. The South Central Region shed 2 Bcf.

Salt cavern storage was down 6 Bcf at 360 Bcf, while the non-salt cavern figure rose 3 Bcf to 893 Bcf.