NEW YORK: US natural gas futures slipped to a fresh one-week low on Tuesday on forecasts mild weather will decrease air conditioning demand over the next week by more than previously expected.
Traders noted US prices fell even though gas in Europe and Asia continued to hit fresh record highs over $25 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) versus just about $5 for the US fuel, prompting buyers around the world to keep purchasing all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) the United States can produce.
Global prices are high due to Asia's insatiable demand for gas and as Europe scrambles to refill stockpiles ahead of the winter heating season, when demand for the fuel peaks. The problem is that the United States is already producing as much LNG as it can.
The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants slipped to an average of 10.4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in September, down from 10.5 bcfd in August, according to data provider Refinitiv. That compares with a monthly record of 11.5 bcfd in April.
Traders said US LNG exports were reduced this month by a brief shutdown at Freeport LNG's plant in Texas during Tropical Storm Nicholas and the start of maintenance at Berkshire Hathaway Energy's Cove Point in Maryland on Monday.
Front-month gas futures fell 3.1 cents, or 0.6%, to $4.954 per mmBtu at 7:54 a.m. EDT (1154 GMT), putting the contract on track for its lowest close since Sept. 10 for a third day in a row.
Since hitting a seven-year high last week, the front-month has dropped about 10% over the past four days on growing expectations the United States will have enough gas in storage for its winter heating season. If it holds, that would be the longest losing streak for the front-month since May.
US gas stockpiles were about 7.1% below their five-year normal for this time of year.
Refinitiv said gas output in the US Lower 48 states fell to an average of 90.6 bcfd so far in September, down from 92.0 bcfd in August, due mostly to Ida-related losses along the Gulf Coast. That compares with a monthly record high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.