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Markets

US natgas futures ease to fresh 3-week low as output slowly rises

  • The price decline came despite forecasts that warmer weather in coming weeks will boost the amount of gas power generators burn to keep air conditioners humming.
  • Front-month gas futures fell 1.2 cents, or 0.4%, to $2.913 per million British thermal units
21 May 2021

US natural gas futures eased to a fresh three-week low on Friday as production continued to edge higher and exports slip.

The price decline came despite forecasts that warmer weather in coming weeks will boost the amount of gas power generators burn to keep air conditioners humming.

Front-month gas futures fell 1.2 cents, or 0.4%, to $2.913 per million British thermal units at 9:02 a.m. EDT (1302 GMT), putting the contract on track for its lowest close since April 29 for a second day in a row.

That also put the front-month down for a fourth day in a row for the first time since early March and on track to decline over 1% this week after gaining more than 16% during the prior five weeks.

Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 90.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in May, up from 90.6 bcfd in April. That is still well below November 2019's monthly record of 95.4 bcfd.

With the summer air conditioning season approaching, Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would rise from 81.3 bcfd this week to 84.8 bcfd next week and 86.1 bcfd in two weeks. That was similar to Refinitiv's forecasts on Thursday.

The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants averaged 10.9 bcfd so far in May, down from April's monthly record of 11.5 bcfd. The decline was due to short-term issues and normal spring maintenance at a few Gulf Coast plants and the gas pipelines that supply them.

US pipeline exports to Mexico, meanwhile, averaged 6.0 bcfd so far in May, just off April's monthly record of 6.1 bcfd, Refinitiv data showed.

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