NEW YORK: US natural gas futures jumped almost 4% on Wednesday to a five-week high after a revised midday forecast called for even more cold weather and heating demand over the next two weeks than previously expected.
On its last day as the front month, gas futures for February delivery rose 10.4 cents, or 3.9%, to settle at $2.760 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their highest close since Dec. 22.
March futures, which will soon be the front month, gained about 6 cents to around $2.70 per mmBtu.
Data provider Refinitiv said output in the lower 48 US states averaged 91.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January. That compares with an eight-month high of 91.5 bcfd in December and an all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.
Even though the weather outlook was colder than previously forecast, temperatures next week were still expected to be higher than this week.
Refinitiv projected that milder weather would cause average gas demand, including exports, to slip from 129.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) this week to 126.6 bcfd next week. Those demand forecasts, however, were higher than Refinitiv’s outlook on Tuesday.
The amount of gas flowing to US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants has averaged 10.4 bcfd so far in January. Traders said that was down from December’s 10.7 bcfd monthly record because flows to Cheniere Energy Inc’s Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana and Freeport LNG’s plant in Texas declined last week due to a combination of fog and pipeline maintenance.