Natural gas stocks finally turn the corner as spring arrives
Having passed the official start of spring, natural gas stocks in underground storage across the U.S. finally posted their first gain since last fall in Thursday’s EIA report. Nationwide stocks showed a 26 billion cubic feet (Bcf) bump over last week, with six out of the seven regions registering gains.
Spring is normally the Goldilocks season as temperatures begin to warm up across the country, reducing home-heating use, but are not hot enough for ramped-up air conditioning power consumption. Stocks in the lower 48 states now stand at 1,415 Bcf, down 14.7 percent from the five-year average and down 19.7 percent from year-ago levels.
Although active rig counts have recovered, demand for U.S. natural gas exports in both pipeline (Canada and Mexico) and liquified natural gas (Western Europe and Asia) are at record levels.
Barring another unseasonal shot of arctic air and winter temperatures, stocks across the U.S. would seem poised to climb steadily over the next seven months. In addition, the turn back to net positive injection is occurring earlier than normal this year vs. the five-year average, and that offers supplemental injection or build time on the calendar before next fall and the return to seasonal cooler temperatures.
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