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Bulls Relishing Near-Term Weather Outlook; May Called 3 Cents Higher

May natural gas is expected to open 3 cents higher Wednesday morning at $4.77 as near-term weather forecasts are seen making timely additions to storage problematical. Overnight oil markets were mixed.

Analysts see short-term weather developments crimping injections. "Prices advanced [Tuesday] to an intraday high of $4.757 amid anxiety that considerably below-cold temperatures (relative to the averages) are forecast to cover a large portion of the nation through almost the first week of May," said Alan Lammey, an analyst at WeatherBELL Analytics. "If these below-average temperatures verify, then it might possibly decrease the quantity of gas being placed into storage in the relative near term," he said in morning comments to clients.

That might be a distinct possibility. MDA EarthSat in its morning six- to 10-day outlook shows below and much below normal temperatures east of the Continental Divide all the way to the Eastern Seaboard. "Strong polar ridging that develops during the prior period still appears set to send south a strong late-April cool surge from Canada. While unsettled weather lingers early over the Midcontinent, much-belows are expected to spread southward, reaching into the Deep South by late in the period. The forecast continues to lean on a mix of the American and European models, with the American outlook slightly favored as the Euro appears too strong and long-lasting with the cool air.

"Detail concerns remain in place with regard to timing and intensity due to uncertainty with the upper-level low in play."

Angst continues to grow surrounding the slow pace of storage injections. "The gas market is sitting on pins and needles waiting for the release of the weekly storage report, which will be published [Thursday] by the U.S. government," said Lammey.

"The worry is that the last two weeks of storage data has come in notably below market expectations, putting crucially needed storage injections behind the eight ball during a period of time when the market needs to store as much supply as possible."

Wide variations are seen in Thursday's Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report. "...I'm modeling an injection in the area of 54 Bcf to 57 Bcf when the EIA reports its storage data for the week ended April 18th. Once again, market gas storage 'injection' expectations are extremely varied, ranging between 40 Bcf and 64 Bcf. This week's storage data will be compared to a 30 Bcf build seen during the same week last year, while the five-year average is a 47 Bcf build," he said.

Others are coming in a bit leaner. Kyle Cooper at IAF Advisors in Houston projects a build of 45 Bcf.

In overnight Globex trading June crude oil fell 23 cents to $101.52/bbl and June RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $3.0453/gal.

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