The U.S. government is set to release its natural-gas data on Thursday, which is expected to show a smaller increase in inventories compared to the average. This is primarily due to the prolonged heatwave in Texas, the largest consumer of natural gas, which has caused a surge in gas-fired electricity demand.

According to estimates from 13 analysts, brokers, and traders surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, it is anticipated that gas in storage rose by 18 billion cubic feet during the week ending July 28. This figure is significantly lower than the 37-bcf injection recorded during the same week last year and the five-year average rise.

The Energy Information Administration will unveil its natural-gas storage data for the week at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

If the data confirms an 18-bcf increase, it would mean gas stockpiles would total 3.005 trillion cubic feet. This represents a 23% increase from last year's total at this time and a 12% rise above the five-year average for this period. It is worth noting that inventories typically do not exceed 3 tcf until the first week of September.

Low natural-gas inventories were observed throughout most of last year due to high demand for gas-fired heating and cooling as well as production disruptions caused by storms. However, this year has seen a surge in domestic natural-gas production, reaching an all-time high early on, while demand has been impacted by a mild winter and reduced demand from the U.S. manufacturing sector.

These factors, coupled with a slow start to hurricane season, have contributed to an excess of natural-gas inventory, resulting in prices that are approximately 45% lower year-to-date, hovering around $2.476/mmBtu.

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