The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that US natural gas stocks decreased by 160 billion cubic ft for the week ending February 6. Estimates called for drawdown of 166 billion to 170 billion cubic ft. The five-year average draw is about 180 billion cubic ft, and during the same period last year the draw was 230 billion cubic ft.
Natural gas futures for March delivery traded down about 0.1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around US$2.80 per million BTUs, and pulled back to around US$2.73 immediately following the report. Natural gas futures have risen from around US$2.58 per million BTUs since last week. The 52-week low for natural gas futures is US$2.57. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was near US$5.
Natural gas posted a weekly high of around US$2.85 on Wednesday as cold weather has again moved into the Northeast. Another blast of cold air is expected to move across the north-central U.S. Thursday and across the eastern U.S. Friday, with more cold weather due over the weekend pushing down into the south. Warm weather west of the Mississippi is also expected to give way to colder temperatures next week.
Stockpiles are about 31.4% above their levels of a year ago and about 0.5% below the five-year average. The relatively milder weather so far in the heating season has curtailed stockpile drawdowns, compared with last year’s much colder weather.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totalled 2.27 trillion cubic ft, about 11 billion cubic ft below the five-year average of 2.28 trillion cubic ft and 542 billion cubic ft above last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totalled 1.73 trillion cubic ft for the same period a year ago.