Natural gas in storage in the U.S. rose roughly in line with expectations last week but is 0.1 percent below the five-year average for this time of year, a government report said Thursday.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural-gas inventories held in underground storage in the lower 48 states rose by 105 billion cubic feet to nearly 1.81 trillion cubic feet for the week ending May 30.
Inventories were expected to climb 103 billion cubic feet, according to a poll from Reuters.
The inventory level was slightly below the five-year average, and well below last year's storage level of more than 2.13 trillion cubic feet, according to the government data.
In morning trading, natural gas for July delivery rose more than 5 cents to over $12.43 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Energy traders were closely watching the report, as futures in the commodity continue spiking and energy concerns remain widespread in the United States.
In recent days, CNBC has gone to the experts about natural gas, as investing in the fuel gains greater interest.
Natural Gas vs. Crude Oil
"The supply-demand situation for natural gas has changed quite a bit, but actually it does look like that supply and demand are in relatively balance with a good amount of supply... Gas can go higher and will go higher."
- Arthur Gelber, Gelber & Associates
Energizing Your Portfolio
"In terms of value, there's basically a few themes that are investable. Obviously, in a high oil price climate the pure oil producers benefit a lot... But also there's a lot of moving parts in the gas side of business, where gas prices are now trying to keep up with oil prices and catch up because they've lagged. From that perspective the Asians are [consuming] a lot of gas, pushing prices up. So a company that would benefit there would be Apache, for instance, recontracting a lot of its far-Eastern gas at higher prices."
- Dirk Hoozemans, Robeco Asset Management
Curbing Oil Demand
"We have only one fuel in the United States that can compete with oil, can reduce the import. It's natural gas. No others can do it. You talk about ethanol, it's a joke. Ethanol will never amount to more than at the most 5 percent of all the oil used, or fuel used, in the United States. But the only fuel that can back out the imports is natural gas."
- Addison Armstrong, Tradition Energy
- Wire services contributed to this report.