The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) first reported natural gas storage withdrawal of the season surprised to the high side Thursday, but after an initial injection of bullish momentum the futures market ultimately shrugged off the news.
EIA reported a 94 Bcf net withdrawal from U.S. gas stocks during the week ended Nov. 15, higher than consensus, which had landed in the upper 80s Bcf. The 94 Bcf figure comes in well above the five-year average pull of 32 Bcf, but shy of the 109 Bcf withdrawal EIA recorded for the year-ago period.
In the hour leading up to EIA’s report, the December Nymex contract had been trading around $2.550-2.570. As the figure crossed trading screens at 10:30 a.m. ET, the front month briefly rallied to as high as $2.590 before receding back to around pre-report trade levels.
By 11 a.m. ET, December was trading around $2.549, down a penny from Wednesday’s settle.
Prior to the report, survey responses had pointed to a build around 88 Bcf, with expectations ranging from 82 Bcf to 99 Bcf. Intercontinental Exchange futures had settled at 87 Bcf, while NGI’s model predicted a 101 Bcf withdrawal.
During a chat on Enelyst, The Desk’s John Sodergreen said responses to his storage survey had pointed to a consensus 88.8 Bcf pull.
“We received a few forecasts late, and it bumped the number over 89 Bcf,” Sodergreen said. “So, at minus 94 Bcf, it’s supportive but not a barnburner.”
In a note to clients following EIA’s report, Bespoke Weather Services described the 94 Bcf print as “easily the tightest number we have seen in quite a while.”
“That said, we still view this as neutral overall,” Bespoke said. “First off, we had tail-event cold last week, which significantly boosted power burns, and those already look notably looser this week. Also, while we didn’t see the level of freeze-offs that we were concerned about, production was lower last week and has already made a new all-time high this week.
“This tells us that the tight number is likely a one-off event, at least until we see the return of stronger cold back into the picture.”
Total Lower 48 working gas in underground storage stood at 3,638 Bcf as of Nov. 15, 506 Bcf (16.2%) higher than year-ago levels and 60 Bcf (minus 1.6%) lower than the five-year average, according to EIA.
By region, 37 Bcf was withdrawn from the Midwest during the week, and 23 Bcf was pulled in the East. In the South Central, 20 Bcf was withdrawn from nonsalt, along with 14 Bcf from salt stocks. The Mountain region recorded a 2 Bcf withdrawal, while the Pacific injected 2 Bcf, EIA said.