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Markets

U.S. natgas edges up as storage report offsets lower LNG exports

  • Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would slide from 89.3 bcfd this week to 87.6 bcfd next week as the weather turns milder.
08 Apr 2021

U.S. natural gas futures edged up on Thursday following the release of a report showing an expected bigger-than-usual storage build last week due to mild weather and the shutdown of many businesses for the long Good Friday holiday weekend.

Traders noted prices were down earlier in the session on forecasts for milder weather over the next two weeks and a planned decline in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports because of maintenance.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said U.S. utilities added 20 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended April 2.

That was close to the 21-bcf build analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and compared with an increase of 30 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average increase of 8 bcf.

Last week's injection boosted stockpiles to 1.784 trillion cubic feet (tcf), 1.3% below the five-year average of 1.808 tcf for this time of year.

Front-month gas futures for May delivery rose 1.1 cents, or 0.4%, to $2.531 per million British thermal units at 10:37 a.m. EDT (1437 GMT).

That put the front-month on track to decline about 4% this week due to mild weather, low demand, ample storage and rising production, and boosted the premium of futures for June over May to a record high.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 U.S. states has averaged 92.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in April, up from 91.6 bcfd in March but still well below the record monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would slide from 89.3 bcfd this week to 87.6 bcfd next week as the weather turns milder.

Those demand forecasts were lower than what Refinitiv projected on Wednesday.

The amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants, meanwhile, has averaged 11.1 bcfd so far in April, which would top March's monthly record of 10.8 bcfd.

On a daily basis, however, LNG feedgas was on track to fall to near a six-week low of 9.1 bcfd on Thursday due to a reduction at Cheniere Energy Inc's Corpus Christi plant in Texas for what traders said was planned work on liquefaction trains and pipelines feeding them.

Traders said they expected feedgas to fall further later this month due to planned work at Cameron LNG's plant in Louisiana and its pipelines.