The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an on-target 49 Bcf injection into natural gas storage inventories for the week ending Aug. 6, quickly sending futures prices to around $4.00/MMBtu.
The 49 Bcf build was on par with major survey estimates ahead of the report and came in not too far removed from historical levels. Last year, EIA recorded a 55 Bcf build for the similar week, while the five-year average is an injection of 42 Bcf.
A Bloomberg survey ahead of the EIA report produced a range of injection estimates from 38 Bcf to 58 Bcf, with a median build of 47 Bcf. A Reuters poll had a tighter range, with a median injection of 49 Bcf. NGI modeled a 53 Bcf build.
Nymex futures were already trading lower ahead of the EIA report, pressured in part by an approaching cool front and weaker cash prices. The September futures contract was trading at $4.014, off 4.5 cents day/day, in the minutes leading up to the report. The prompt month slipped to $4.001 as the EIA print crossed trading desks and by 11 a.m. ET was at $3.998, off 6.1 cents from Wednesday’s close.
Bespoke Weather Services said the on-target storage figure is overall “very neutral.” There were no surprises in the regional data, either, with the injection continuing to reflect tightness in the market on a weather-adjusted basis.
NatGasWeather said it was cooler than normal over most of the United States during the reference period, except for in the West and along the Gulf Coast.
Broken down by region, EIA said East inventories rose by 25 Bcf for the week ending Aug. 6. Midwest stocks climbed 22 Bcf and Mountain stocks added 1 Bcf.
The South Central region saw inventories climb by a net 3 Bcf. This included a 6 Bcf increase at nonsalt facilities and 3 Bcf withdrawal from salts, EIA said.
Pacific stocks also continued to decline amid ongoing heat and drought conditions. Inventories slipped 3 Bcf for the week.
Total working gas in storage as of Aug. 6 stood at 2,776 Bcf, which is 548 Bcf below year-ago levels and 178 Bcf below the five-year average, according to EIA.
With little excitement in the latest storage data, attention is quickly moving to the next EIA report, according to Bespoke. Though this week is the hottest of the summer, the next storage build may not be the smallest. Higher wind and lower liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports “have loosened things considerably.”
The key, according to Bespoke, is how much the market retightens once wind declines the next few days. There are also some LNG volumes back in play. “For now, we stick with the thesis of an overall supportive backdrop, next week’s EIA number notwithstanding.”
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