The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a net 14 Bcf injection into natural gas storage for the week ending March 26, coming in slightly below market expectations and prematurely putting an end to the withdrawal season that traditionally runs through the end of March.

EIA storage March 26

The EIA figure included a 4 Bcf revision to the prior week’s report. The revision resulted in a 32 Bcf withdrawal, rather than a 36 Bcf draw, for the week ending March 19. The change occurred in the nonsalt facilities in the South Central region, where inventories reached 519 Bcf for the period.

Traders struggled to make sense of the latest data, with initial price momentum in Nymex futures after the EIA report quickly fading.

[TUNE IN: What does NGI’s natural gas marketer ranking say about the industry? Listen to the most recent Hub & Flow podcast to find out.]

The Nymex May contract was trading a couple of cents higher day/day at $2.635/MMBtu in the minutes leading up to the EIA report. Prices then bumped up to around $2.660 as the print hit the screen. However, by 11 a.m. ET, the prompt month had lost ground and was back at $2.640, up 3.2 cents from Thursday’s close.

Given the EIA revision, ironically reported on April Fool’s Day, Bespoke Weather Services said it rated the 14 Bcf injection as a “neutral number.” The firm, which had projected a 22 Bcf build, said better power burns were needed before the market would be ready to begin any sustainable move higher.

Broken down by region, the South Central added a net 15 Bcf into storage, including 11 Bcf into salt facilities and 4 Bcf into nonsalts, according to EIA. Pacific stocks rose by 1 Bcf, while the East and Mountain regions each recorded no change. The Midwest continued to withdraw, pulling 4 Bcf out of inventories.

Total working gas in storage as of March 26 stood at 1,764 Bcf, which is 225 Bcf below year-ago levels and 36 Bcf below the five-year average, EIA said.