The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an injection of 61 Bcf natural gas storage for the week ended April 9, coming in below median estimates and driving Nymex natural gas futures into the green.

eia storage april 9

The latest figure was below the 68 Bcf build EIA recorded in the year-ago period but above the five-year average injection of 26 Bcf.

“It was warmer than normal over most of the U.S. besides the Southeast, especially so across the Midwest,” NatGasWeather said. Still, weak weather demand was countered some by strong U.S. liquefied natural gas volumes and pipeline exports to Mexico.

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Ahead of the EIA report, the May contract was flat at $2.618/MMBtu, extending the sideways trading of a day earlier. Futures were down only one-tenth of a cent on Wednesday as traders moved to the sidelines ahead of the government inventory report.

The prompt month, however, gained ground to around $2.635 when the EIA data was released. By 11 a.m. ET, the May contract was trading at $2.656, up 3.8 cents from Wednesday’s close.

Participants on The Desk’s online energy platform Enelyst noted that the injection was bearish relative to historic averages. They said markets appeared relieved that it was smaller than analysts’ expectations and that the next injection could be lighter given a spate of cold weather systems permeating the Lower 48 this week.

If that proves true, it would point to a relatively tight supply/balance backdrop for the spring shoulder season, Bespoke Weather Services said.

Prior to the report, a Bloomberg survey found injection estimates ranged from 62 Bcf to 79 Bcf, with a median of 67 Bcf. The median of a Reuters poll landed at a build of 66 Bcf; injection estimates spanned 50 Bcf to 79 Bcf. NGI forecasted an injection of 67 Bcf for the period.

The latest build lifted inventories to 1,845 Bcf, below the year-earlier level of 2,087 Bcf but above the five-year average of 1,834 Bcf.

By region, the South Central led with a build of 30 Bcf that included a 16 Bcf increase in salts and 14 Bcf injection into nonsalt facilities.

The Midwest recorded a build of 16 Bcf. The Pacific and East regions followed with builds of 7 Bcf and 6 Bcf, respectively. Mountain region stocks rose by 3 Bcf.