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January NatGas Called Higher as Forecasts Flash Frigid Temps through Next Week

Soon-to-expire January natural gas was set to open about 7 cents higher at around $2.732 Tuesday, finding support over the long holiday weekend from forecasts that call for chilly temperatures into the first part of the new year.

Those chilly temperatures, though, could retreat after the first week of January, according to forecasters.

The January contract is set to expire Wednesday. The February contract was also trading about 7 cents higher at around $2.727 ahead of Tuesday's open.

"The pattern through Jan. 6 remains impressively frigid, with several Arctic blasts set to impact the northern and eastern U.S. for very strong demand as lows reach the teens to -25 F," said NatGasWeather.com in a morning note to clients.

"The pattern Jan. 7-10 continues to advertise cold air retreating back into Canada, although the Global Forecast System weather model was colder trending overnight during this period to add several heating degree days" to the outlook.

Given the "warmer trends” by Jan. 7, Bespoke Weather Services said its forecast Tuesday for gas-weighted degree days was "on net about the same" as before the holiday break, "though cold over the next week and a half has become even higher confidence, boosting prices.

"The intensity of cold over the next week or so is much clearer, with the main forecast uncertainty now lingering around exactly when cold will break down," the firm said. "...Our sentiment remains neutral" as of Tuesday morning, "as even though prompt month natural gas prices are rallying significantly, we would expect them to reverse back lower sometime this week."

Meanwhile, Genscape Inc. said its models showed "production remained fairly stable through the weekend as temperatures did not fall enough to cause any freeze-offs and the holiday created a quiet maintenance calendar."

Genscape's Spring Rock daily pipeline production estimate showed volumes Tuesday and for the past few days “right around the 76.5 Bf/d mark. Though a slight retreat from the record highs established last week near 76.8 Bcf/d, volumes are currently running more than 1 Bcf/d greater than where the month started."

The analytics firm said growth is showing up across all major producing regions except for the Rockies and the San Juan Basin. Production in the East region was up more than 0.5 Bcf/d month-to-date "facilitated by the wave of new infrastructure” available in the second half of 2017.

February crude oil was set to open near even at around $58.53/bbl, while January RBOB gasoline was down fractionally at around $1.7550/gal.

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