The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a 43 Bcf injection into natural gas storage inventories for the week ending Aug. 14, a figure that was right in line with market expectations.
Natural gas futures, which were trading slightly lower ahead of the report, remained in the red after the data was released. At about 10:25 a.m. ET, the September Nymex contract was off 1.4 cents at $2.412/MMBtu and then slipped to $2.408 as the EIA print crossed trading desks. The prompt month went on to drop as low as $2.367 but by 11 a.m., was back at $2.414.
Bespoke Weather Services, which had projected a 42 Bcf build, said the EIA stat was reflective of a “notable” loosening in supply/demand balances in its model. Although the 43 Bcf injection was in line with most market estimates, it may not reflect future balances, given the recent rise in liquefied natural gas (LNG), the firm said.
“It seems clear to us that higher prices are playing a role in impacting the balance,” Bespoke said, “which is something to consider if LNG does not rip higher” or weather moves away from being bullish.
Thursday marked the deadline for cancellations from Cheniere Energy Inc. export facilities for October, which could provide some insight into how LNG demand may fare in the coming months.
Ahead of the EIA report, a Bloomberg survey showed injection estimates ranging from 36 Bcf to 48 Bcf, with a median build of 43 Bcf. A Reuters poll had a wider range from 33-53 Bcf with the same median build expectation of 43 Bcf. NGI’s storage model predicted a 46 Bcf injection for this week’s report.
Last year, EIA recorded a 56 Bcf build for the similar week, while the five-year average is a 44 Bcf injection.
Broken down by region, the Midwest added 24 Bcf into inventories, which was a bit higher than analysts had projected. Market observers on The Desk’s online energy platform Enelyst said gas is losing out to coal in the region, which may have contributed to the large build.
East inventories rose by 12 Bcf, the Mountain climbed 3 Bcf and the South Central added a net 4 Bcf into stocks. This included a 5 Bcf injection into nonsalt facilities and a 2 Bcf withdrawal from salts, according to EIA. The Pacific region drew 1 Bcf.
Total working gas in storage stood at 3,375 Bcf, which is 595 Bcf higher than year-ago levels and 442 Bcf above the five-year average of 2,933 Bcf, EIA said.
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