U.S. natural gas futures soared over 7% to a 32-month high on Aug. 26 on a much smaller than expected storage build during hot weather last week.
Traders also said prices jumped on forecasts for higher LNG exports, concerns about a storm in the Gulf of Mexico and the latest outlook calling for hotter than normal weather through early September.
Tropical Depression 9 is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before striking the U.S. Gulf Coast early next week near Louisiana. Analysts noted storms can reduce gas prices and demand by causing power outages and LNG terminals to shut, but they can also boost prices by causing Gulf Coast production to shut.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said utilities added just 29 Bcf of gas into storage during the week ended Aug. 20.
That was much lower than the 40 Bcf build analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and compares with an increase of 45 Bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-20) average increase of 44 Bcf. Traders said the build was smaller than expected in part because wind power was low in the eastern half of the country and Texas last week, causing generators to burn more gas to meet high air conditioning demand.
Last week’s injection boosted stockpiles to 2.851 Tcf, or 6.2% below the five-year average of 3.040 Tcf for this time of year.
On its second to last day as the front-month, gas futures for September delivery rose 28.7 cents, or 7.4%, to settle at $4.184 per mmBtu, their highest close since December 2018.
That was the front-month’s biggest one-day percentage gain since the February freeze that knocked out power to millions of customers in Texas.
The October contract, which will soon be the front-month, was up about 28 cents to $4.20 per mmBtu.
In New England, gas prices for this winter soared due to limited pipeline capacity and rising competition for LNG from Europe and Asia where gas prices were near record highs.
Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states rose to an average of 92.1 Bcf/d so far in August from 91.6 Bcf/d in July. That compares with an all-time monthly high of 95.4 Bcf/d in November 2019.
Refinitiv projected average U.S. gas demand, including exports, would rise from 94.2 Bcf/d this week to 94.5 Bcf/d next week mostly as LNG exports rise. Those forecasts were higher than Refinitiv projected on Wednesday.
The amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants slipped from an average of 10.8 Bcf/d in July to 10.5 Bcf/d so far in August. Traders, however, noted that LNG feedgas was already increasing as the companies operating the Cameron and Sabine plants in Louisiana and the pipelines that serve them finish maintenance work. That compares with a record 11.5 Bcf/d in April.
With European and Asian gas both trading over $15 per mmBtu, compared with just about $4 for the U.S. fuel, analysts said buyers around the world would keep purchasing all the LNG the United States can produce.
Denbury’s Carbon Solutions business executed a term sheet with Mitsubishi on Sept. 21 for the transport and storage of CO₂ captured from Mitsubishi’s proposed ammonia project on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The all-equity transaction for Enable Midstream, valued at about $7.2 billion including debt, comes weeks after a U.S. appeals court dealt a blow that could shut down the Dakota Access crude pipeline operated by Energy Transfer.
Plano, Texas-based Denbury Resources has tapped Evercore for advice on handling its debt, the sources said, stressing a debt restructuring is not imminent the oil and gas company.