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NEW YORK: US natural gas futures fell more than 6% to a one-week low on Tuesday on rising output and forecasts for milder weather and lower heating demand over the next two weeks than previously expected.

That US price drop followed a 3% decline in European gas futures. Global prices, however, were still about 13 times higher than US futures, keeping demand for US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports strong as the Russian invasion of Ukraine stokes energy-supply concerns. US gas futures remain shielded from record European prices because the United States, the world’s biggest gas producer, has all the fuel it needs for domestic use and the country’s ability to export more liquefied natural gas (LNG) is limited by capacity constraints.

The United States is already producing LNG near full capacity, so no matter how high global gas prices rise, it would not be able to produce much more of the supercooled fuel anytime soon.

Since US LNG exports were already near maximum capacity, some analysts said soaring global energy prices could actually cause US natural gas prices to decline as US drillers seek more oil and the associated gas that comes with it.

The US gas market has mostly shrugged off what was happening in Europe since the start of the year, focusing more on domestic weather and supply and demand, with US gas prices moving in the opposite direction of Europe more than half the time.

But it has been hard to ignore massive gains in global energy prices in recent weeks. Spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, European gas futures have spiked as much as 280%, hitting a record high on Monday, while US crude futures jumped over 40% to their highest since 2008.

Before the Russian invasion, the United States worked with other countries to ensure that gas supplies, mostly from LNG, would keep flowing to Europe. Russia, the world’s second-biggest gas producer, usually provides around 30% to 40% of Europe’s gas, which totaled about 16.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2021.

Front-month gas futures fell 30.6 cents, or 6.3%, to settle at $4.527 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their lowest close since Feb. 28.

Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the US Lower 48 states was on track to rise to 93.5 bcfd in March from 92.5 bcfd in February as more oil and gas wells return to service after freezing earlier in the year. That compares with a monthly record of 96.2 bcfd in December.

With the coming of cooler weather next week, Refinitiv projected average US gas demand, including exports, would rise from 109.7 bcfd this week to 110.0 bcfd next week. The forecast for next week, however, was much lower than Refinitiv’s outlook on Monday.

The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants has risen to 12.57 bcfd so far in March, from 12.43 bcfd in February and a record 12.44 bcfd in January. The United States has the capacity to turn only about 12.5 bcfd of gas into LNG. The rest of the fuel flowing to the facilities is used to operate the plants.

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