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Markets

US natgas futures edge up on cold forecasts, big storage draw

  • The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said US utilities pulled 192 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas from storage during the colder than normal week ended Jan. 29.
  • Front-month gas futures rose 2.2 cents, or 0.8%, to $2.811 per million British thermal units.
04 Feb 2021

US natural gas futures edged up less than 1% on Thursday on forecasts for much colder weather in mid February and a big storage draw last week.

That small increase comes despite forecasts for a little less heating demand this week and next than previously expected.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said US utilities pulled 192 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas from storage during the colder than normal week ended Jan. 29.

That matched analysts estimates in a Reuters poll and compares with a decrease of 155 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average withdrawal of 146 bcf.

Last week's decrease cut stockpiles to 2.689 trillion cubic feet (tcf), which is still 7.9% above the five-year average of 2.491 tcf for this time of year.

Front-month gas futures rose 2.2 cents, or 0.8%, to $2.811 per million British thermal units at 10:36 a.m. EST (1536 GMT).

Before EIA released the storage report, the front-month was flat.

In the spot market, meanwhile, cold weather this week boosted next-day gas and power in New England to their highest since December 2019 for a second day in row.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 90.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in February. Traders noted that was down from 91.0 bcfd in January, due in part to the freezing of some wells. Output hit an all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

With colder weather coming, Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would rise to 138.5 bcfd next week from 127.4 bcfd this week. Those forecasts were lower than Refinitiv's outlook on Wednesday.

The amount of gas flowing to US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants averaged 10.6 bcfd so far in February, up from January's 10.4 bcfd average but just shy of December's 10.7 bcfd record high.