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US natgas prices jump 5% to 21-week high on output drop, hotter weather forecasts

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | 20:00

U.S. natural gas futures jumped about 5% to a 21-week high on Tuesday on a drop in output in recent days and forecasts for hotter weather that should boost the amount of gas power generators burn to keep air conditioners humming.

That price increase occurred despite forecasts for less demand over the next two weeks than previously expected, expectations gas supplies will soon rise with the giant Mountain Valley Pipeline nearing completion, and the tremendous oversupply of gas still in storage.

Analysts said current gas stockpiles were still around 24% above normal levels for this time of year.

Mountain Valley said its pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia was “mechanically complete” and being “packed with gas.” The company sought permission from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to place the project into service by Tuesday, June 11.

Analysts predicted FERC would probably authorize the project but not necessarily by Tuesday.

Front-month gas futures NGc1 for July delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange were up 12.9 cents, or 4.4%, to $3.035 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 9:21 a.m. EDT (1321 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since Jan. 12.

That pushed the contract into technically overbought territory for the first time since late May.

In the spot market, next-day gas at the AECO hub NG-ASH-ALB-SNL in Alberta, Canada fell to 60 cents per mmBtu, its lowest price since October 2022 for a second day in a row.

In other news, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico had a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone over the next seven days as it blows across Florida and into the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolinas. Meteorologists predict this could be a record-setting year for hurricanes and other tropical storms.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Financial firm LSEG said gas output in the Lower 48 U.S. states has fallen to an average of 97.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in June, down from 98.1 bcfd in May. That compares with a monthly record of 105.5 bcfd in December 2023.

On a daily basis, output was on track to drop by around 2.8 bcfd over the past four days to a preliminary 20-week low of 95.2 bcfd on Tuesday. Traders, however, noted preliminary data is often revised later in the day.

Before recent output declines in June, analysts said increases in May were a sign producers were slowly boosting output due to a 47% jump in futures prices in April and May. Output hit a six-week high of 99.5 bcfd on May 24.

Overall, U.S. gas production has remained down around 10% so far in 2024 after several energy firms, including EQT EQT.N and Chesapeake Energy CHK.O, delayed well completions and cut drilling activities when prices fell in February and March.

Meteorologists projected weather across the Lower 48 states would remain mostly hotter than normal through June 26.

LSEG forecast gas demand in the Lower 48, including exports, would jump from 94.7 bcfd this week to 98.8 bcfd next week. Those forecasts were lower than LSEG’s outlook on Monday.

Gas flows to the seven big U.S. LNG export plants have risen to 13.1 bcfd so far in June, up from 12.9 bcfd in May.

That, however, remains well below the monthly record high of 14.7 bcfd in December 2023 due to ongoing maintenance at several plants, including Cheniere Energy’s LNG.N Sabine Pass, Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass and Cameron LNG’s plant in Louisiana.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Paul Simao)

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