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NEW YORK: Spot natural gas prices in the United States and Canada soared this week as many homes and businesses in the US South and West cranked up their air conditioners to escape an early spring heatwave.

Energy traders noted US gas prices were already trading at their highest in almost 14 years as much-higher prices in Europe keep demand for US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports strong.

Gas futures were high in Europe, trading around $33 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) versus around $8 at the US Henry Hub benchmark in Louisiana, as Europe looks to break its reliance on Russian gas after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

AccuWeather forecast temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, would reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) over the weekend. That compares with a normal high of 85 F in the city at this time of year.

Next-day gas prices for Thursday at the AECO hub in Alberta, which supplies lots of fuel to the United States, rose to $6.90 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their highest since March 2014 for a second day in a row.

That price spike came in part after hotter than normal weather caused cooling demand in Northern California to spike earlier this week. The mercury hit the mid 80s F in San Jose on Wednesday, which is more than 10 degrees above normal for this time of year.

Next-day gas prices for Thursday at the PG&E hub in Northern California soared to $9.55 per mmBtu, their highest since February 2019 for a second day in a row. Spot gas prices in several other basins rose to their highest since the February freeze in 2021, including the Henry Hub, Dominion South in Pennsylvania and Chicago.

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