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Natural Gas Prices Jump On Smaller-Than-Expected U.S. Inventory Build

The U.S. benchmark natural gas price reversed losses from earlier on Thursday and turned higher after the Energy Information Administration reported a smaller-than-forecast injection into storage.

As of 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, the price of natural gas at Henry Hub was up by 2.34 percent at $2.754/ MMBtu. At the start of trading on Thursday, the price was at $2.688/ MMBtu, down from Wednesday’s close at $2.776/ MMBtu.

The EIA’s weekly natural gas storage report showed today that working gas in storage was 1,883 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the end of the week to April 16. This represents a net increase of 38 Bcf from the previous week.

A Reuters poll had expected an injection of 49 bcf for the week to April 16, which would have been higher than normal.

The actual EIA estimate, however, came in very close to the five-year (2016-2020) average injection of 37 bcf.

As per the EIA data, natural gas stocks in the United States at the end of the week to April 16 were 251 Bcf less than last year at this time and 12 Bcf above the five-year average of 1,871 Bcf.

At 1,883 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range.

Natural gas prices were also up on Thursday amid continued record exports of pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) out of America, as well as cooler weather forecasts for the coming days, which is expected to drive heating demand higher.

“A strong late season cold shot continues to impact the eastern 2/3 of the country with rain, snow, and chilly lows of 20s to 40s for strong national demand, coldest over the N. Plains/Midwest, and interior Northeast,” Natgasweather.com said on Thursday. Overall, demand for heating is expected to be high through Sunday-Monday, and turn low after that.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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