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Markets

US natural gas futures edge up on hotter forecasts, rising exports

  • Front-month gas futures rose 3 cents, or 0.9%, to $3.288 per million British thermal units (mmBtu).
  • US pipeline exports to Mexico averaged 6.8 bcfd so far in June, putting them on track to top May's 6.2-bcfd record.
Updated 23 Jun 2021

US natural gas futures edged up to a fresh one-week high on Wednesday on forecasts for hotter weather and higher air conditioning demand over the next two weeks than previously expected and a projected rise in exports.

Front-month gas futures rose 3 cents, or 0.9%, to $3.288 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since June 14 for a second day in a row.

Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in June, up from 91.0 bcfd in May but still well below the monthly record high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

With the coming of hotter summer weather, Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would rise from 88.4 bcfd this week to 93.1 bcfd next week. Those forecasts were higher than Refinitiv projected on Tuesday.

The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants averaged 9.8 bcfd so far in June, down from 10.8 bcfd in May and an all-time high of 11.5 bcfd in April. Traders noted LNG feedgas was down this month mostly due to short-term maintenance at the Sabine Pass and Cameron export plants in Louisiana and some of the pipelines that provide them with fuel.

But with European and Asian gas prices both over $10 per mmBtu, analysts said they expect buyers around the world to keep purchasing all the LNG the United States can produce. The Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in the Netherlands, the European gas benchmark, was at its highest since January 2014.

US pipeline exports to Mexico averaged 6.8 bcfd so far in June, putting them on track to top May's 6.2-bcfd record.

In the power market, brutal heat waves tested the California and Texas grids last week. Both systems passed those tests by not being forced to impose rotating blackouts to maintain grid reliability after consumers heeded calls to conserve energy.

Peak demand in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid in most of Texas, soared to a record for the month of June of 69,943 megawatts (MW) on June 14. ERCOT projected demand would break that June record on June 24 at 70,595 MW and June 25 at 70,684 MW. That compares with the grid's all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019.

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