By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com -- Utilities drew a higher-than-forecast 91 bcf, or billion cubic feet, from U.S. natural gas storage for heating and electricity generation last week, according to government data that showed little market enthusiasm for pushing prices of the fuel higher from 21-month lows.
Analysts tracked by Investing.com had expected the EIA, or Energy Information Administration, to report a draw of 82 bcf for the week ended Jan. 20, identical to the consumption seen in the prior week to Jan. 13.
The front-month March gas contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Henry Hub was down 17 cents, or 5.8%, to $2.745 per mmBtu, or million metric British thermal units, some 20 minutes after the data released by the EIA at 10:30 ET (15:30 GMT) on Thursday.
The benchmark gas futures had earlier plunged to $2.706, its lowest since April 2021.
An unusually warm start to the 2022/23 winter has led to considerably less heating demand in the United States versus the norm, leaving more gas in storage than initially thought. At the close of last week, U.S. gas storage stood at 2.729 tcf, or trillion cubic feet, up from the year-ago level of 2.622 tcf, EIA data showed.
Responding to the data, gas prices have plunged from a 14-year high of $10 per mmBtu in August, reaching $7 in December and almost mid-$2 levels now despite growing forecasts for bitter cold February onwards.