NEW YORK: US natural gas futures were little changed on Wednesday as forecasts for more US heating demand next week slowed the US market following a massive drop in global gas and oil prices.
European gas futures plunged 30% on Wednesday as supplies stabilized with high flows from Russia and massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. That prompted traders to take profits after prices soared to record highs over $106 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) earlier in the week as the Russia-Ukraine conflict stoked global energy supply concerns.
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 totalled about 16.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2021.
In the United States, meanwhile, front-month gas futures fell 0.1 cent to settle at $4.526 per mmBtu, their lowest close since Feb. 28 for a second day in a row.
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 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 super cooled fuel any time soon.
Since US LNG exports were already near maximum capacity, some analysts have noted that soaring global energy prices would likely cause American gas prices to decline as US drillers seek more oil. That will boost the amount of associated gas that comes out of the ground with oil.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected US gas production will rise from a record 93.6 bcfd in 2021 to 96.7 bcfd in 2022 and 99.2 bcfd in 2023. Much of that additional output will come from oil shale fields like the Permian in Texas and New Mexico.