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US natgas futures up near 2pc on record LNG exports, rising demand

  • Front-month gas futures rose 4.3 cents, or 1.8%, to settle at $2.442 per million British thermal units.
  • Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 90.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in December.
Published December 10, 2020
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US natural gas futures rose almost 2% on Wednesday from a 10-week low in the prior session, lifted by record liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and forecasts for a slight increase in heating demand next week.

That move higher came despite forecasts confirming earlier calls for the weather to remain warmer than normal through late December.

Front-month gas futures rose 4.3 cents, or 1.8%, to settle at $2.442 per million British thermal units. On Tuesday, the contract closed at its lowest since Sept. 28 for a second day in a row.

Even though it's only December, gas traders said mild weather over the past month caused the 2021 March-April spread to switch from backwardation to an unusual contango, a sign that some in the market have already given up on this winter.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 90.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in December. That compares with a seven-month high of 91.0 bcfd in November 2020 and an all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

Despite mild December forecasts, Refinitiv projected demand, including exports, would rise from 118.4 bcfd this week to 119.9 bcfd next week due to the usual seasonal cooling of the weather. The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants, meanwhile, rose to an average of 10.8 bcfd so far in December, which would top November's 9.8-bcfd record.

That increase comes as the third train at Cheniere Energy Inc's Corpus Christi plant in Texas prepares to enter commercial service and as rising prices in Europe and Asia prompt buyers to purchase more US gas.

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