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NatGas Bulls Energized By Weather, Forecast Storage Draw; January Seen 7 Cents Higher

January natural gas is expected to open 7 cents higher Thursday morning at $3.42 ahead of a government report anticipated to show a pull on storage greater than historical averages as well as additional forecast cold. Overnight oil markets continued Wednesday's gains.

"The forecast sees a mix of changes in this period, with warmer adjustments preceding a slower moving cold front from the eastern Midwest on day seven to the East Coast on day eight," said MDA Weather Services in its morning 6- to 10-day outlook. "In the wake of this front, however, a much colder air mass presses into the Rockies and Plains, and these areas are additionally colder in today's outlook.

"At the peak, temperatures are forecast to fall to much below normal levels in Texas, along the southern tier and in the Midwest, with belows pressing to the East Coast in the latter stages as well. The East is near normal overall, as aboves precede the colder air mass."

MDA says risks to the forecast include the West being colder than the European Ensemble, "which lingers belows there into late period. Models disagree with the intensity of cold late in the Eastern Half, posing mixed risks."

The 10:30 a.m. EST release of storage data for the week ending N0v. 25 is expected to diverge from the recent trend of builds being above historical averages and increasing year-on-year and year-on-five-year surpluses. Last year 35 Bcf was withdrawn and the five-year pace is for a 44 Bcf pull, and this time around forecasts call for withdrawals greater than the averages.

First Enercast predicts a 62 Bcf decline, and IAF Advisors is looking for a withdrawal of 49 Bcf. A Reuters survey of 25 industry cognoscenti revealed an average 53 Bcf with a range of -26 Bcf to -65 Bcf.

In overnight Globex trading January crude oil added $1.00 to  $50.44/bbl and January RBOB gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.5082/gallon.

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