NEW YORK: US natural gas futures fell more than 4% on Thursday, snapping a three-day gaining streak, as a smaller-than-expected storage draw last week and forecasts for a reprieve from an Arctic blast weighed on prices.
Front-month gas futures fell 13.7 cents, or 4.3%, to settle at $3.082 per million British thermal units. In the previous session prices hit their highest since Nov. 2 at $3.316 per mmbtu.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast US utilities pulled 237 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas from storage during the week ended Feb. 12.
That was lower than the 252-bcf draw analysts forecast in a Reuters poll, but above a decrease of 141 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average withdrawal of 142 bcf.
The data covers the period that ended Friday, just before blistering cold and snow hit most of Texas, New Mexico and other big energy producing areas, shuttering millions of barrels of production and refining output.
“The market has experienced some terrific pricing in the cash market because of the cold in the US. The market has already got into the bullish mode, but the storage report is sort of negative and we got a tug-of-war between the bear and the bull,” said Thomas Saal, senior vice president of energy at StoneX.
He said this week’s draw, announced next Thursday, would likely be a big number although it could be offset by forced blackouts in Texas and Oklahoma.
“Last week’s weather was cold but not as much as it is now.”
Texas produces the most gas - almost a quarter of the US total. It is also the biggest consumer of gas in the nation, accounting for about 15% of the total, and it exports more gas to other states and nations than it pulls in.
Natural gas production in the Lower 48 US states fell to 72.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Wednesday, its lowest since August 2017, according to Refinitiv data. On Thursday, preliminary data from Refinitiv showed output is expected to edge up to 73.5 bcfd.
Refinitiv estimated 397 heating degree days (HDDs) over the next two weeks in the Lower 48 US states, down from Wednesday’s forecast of 401 HDDs.