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Markets

US natgas futures rise on forecasts for more cold, heating demand

The US Energy Information Administration will release its weekly storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Thu
17 Oct 2019
  • The US Energy Information Administration will release its weekly storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Thursday.
  • Gas production in the Lower 48 states rose to 93.6 bcfd on Wednesday from 93.3 bcfd on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv data.

US natural gas futures rose on Thursday on forecasts for colder weather and higher heating demand next week than previously expected.

That price increase came despite expectations a federal report on Thursday will show last week's storage build lifted inventories over normal levels for the first time in more than two years.

Analysts forecast utilities added a bigger than usual 106 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas to storage during the week ended Oct. 11.

That compares with an injection of 82 bcf during the same week last year and a five-year (2014-18) average build of 81 bcf for the period.

If correct, the increase would boost stockpiles to 3.521 trillion cubic feet (tcf), topping the five-year average of 3.505 tcf for the first time since September 2017.

The amount of gas in inventory was as much as 33pc below the five-year average in March 2019. But with production close to a record high, analysts said stockpiles should end the summer injection season at near normal levels of around 3.7 tcf on Oct. 31.

The US Energy Information Administration will release its weekly storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Thursday.

Front-month gas futures for November delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange were up 3.4 cents, or 1.5pc, to $2.337 per million British thermal units at 9:36 a.m. EDT.

Recent price swings in gas futures pushed at-the-money implied volatility, a determinant of option premiums, to 50.5pc on Wednesday, its highest since January. Over the past year, implied volatility has swung wildly, hitting a record high of 117.5pc in November and a record low of 18.6pc in April.

Over the next 6-10 days, the US National Weather Service (NWS) forecast temperatures in the Lower 48 US states would be colder than usual in the central part of the country and warmer than normal on the East and West Coasts.

That cold will spread into the East Coast over the 8-14 day period, with warmer temperatures moving into the Southwest, the NWS said.

Refinitiv projected average gas demand in the Lower 48 states, including exports, would rise to 86.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) next week as cooler weather blankets much of the country, up from its previous forecast of 84.6 bcfd on Wednesday.

That compares with an average of 86.4 bcfd for this week.

Gas flows to liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants was expected to rise to a record high 7.2 bcfd on Thursday with an increase in flows to Cheniere Energy Inc's Corpus Christi terminal in Texas, up from 6.4 bcfd on Wednesday. That compares with an average of 6.3 bcfd last week.

Pipeline flows to Mexico rose to 5.5 bcfd on Wednesday from a one-month low of 5.0 bcfd on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv data.

That compares with an average of 5.5 bcfd last week and an all-time daily high of 5.9 bcfd on Sept. 18.

Gas production in the Lower 48 states rose to 93.6 bcfd on Wednesday from 93.3 bcfd on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv data.

That compares with an average of 93.0 bcfd last week and an all-time daily high of 93.8 bcfd on Sept. 29.