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Markets

US natural gas edges up despite mild forecasts ahead of storage report

  • last week's decrease would cut stockpiles to 3.202 trillion cubic feet (tcf), which would still be about 7.5% above the five-year average of around 2.978 tcf for this time of year.
  • Front-month gas futures rose 1.5 cents, or 0.6%, to $2.742 per million British thermal units.
Published January 14, 2021

US natural gas futures edged up on Thursday as liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports remain near record levels despite forecasts for milder weather and less heating demand over the next two weeks.

That small price gain also came ahead of a federal report expected to show a smaller-than-usual storage draw last week when the weather was mild.

Analysts said US utilities likely pulled 128 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas from storage in the week ended Jan. 8. That compares with a decrease of about 91 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average withdrawal of 161 bcf.

If correct, last week's decrease would cut stockpiles to 3.202 trillion cubic feet (tcf), which would still be about 7.5% above the five-year average of around 2.978 tcf for this time of year.

Front-month gas futures rose 1.5 cents, or 0.6%, to $2.742 per million British thermal units at 7:53 a.m. EST (1253 GMT).

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.

Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, will fall from 128.8 bcfd this week to 122.4 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.

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