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Markets

US natural gas surge 2pc to 6-week high on soaring global prices

  • Front-month gas futures rose 6.4 cents, or 2.3%, to $2.817 per million British thermal units.
  • Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January.
13 Jan 2021

US natural gas futures climbed over 2% to a six-week high on Wednesday as soaring global prices kept liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports near record highs despite forecasts for milder US weather and lower heating demand next week.

Front-month gas futures rose 6.4 cents, or 2.3%, to $2.817 per million British thermal units at 7:55 a.m. EST (1255 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since Dec. 1.

In the spot market, a shot of cold this week boosted heating demand in the US Mid-Atlantic and pushed next-day gas at the Dominion South hub in southwest Pennsylvania to its highest since November 2019.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January. That matches December's eight-month high but falls short of the all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

Data provider Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, will fall from 128.7 bcfd this week to 123.6 next week as the weather turns milder.

The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants averaged 10.6 bcfd so far in January, just shy of December's 10.7-bcfd monthly record.

Those exports came as gas futures this week soared to a record high in Asia and their highest since October 2018 in Europe due to extreme cold in both regions, numerous LNG supply issues, a scarcity of available LNG vessels and delays at the Panama Canal.

Traders, however, noted US LNG exports cannot rise much more until new units enter service in the second half of 2022 since feedgas to the LNG plants was already over their 10.5-bcfd export capacity. LNG plants can pull in a little more gas than they can export since they use some of the fuel to run the facility.