Fitch Ratings on Friday slightly adjusted its U.S. natural gas price deck from December, primarily on strong first quarter pricing from a cold winter. It also raised its base case price deck for West Texas Intermediate (WTI).
For gas, "prices are expected to remain at approximately $4.00-4.50/Mcf in the intermediate term due to the oversupply from shale gas production and a lack of visibility on major new sources 2016-2018," said analyst Sean Sexton and his team in a four-page special report.
The Henry Hub price deck on average this year is expected to average $4.25/Mcf, with 2015 prices forecast at $4.00. Prices in 2016 are expected to be about $4.25.
The base case price deck for WTI this year was revised to $100.00/bbl from a forecast of $90.00 in December "to reflect year-to-date price strength and expectations of continued price strength for the rest of the year." Fitch also raised the stress-case price for 2014 to $70.0/bbl from $60.00 "also as a result of prices being higher than expected this year."
In 2015 and beyond, prices were revised slightly and generally are in line with Fitch's price deck assumptions in December.
"We did moderately widen the Brent-WTI spread to $8.00/bbl for this year and $7.50/bbl thereafter," Sexton said. "The biggest risk from a macro standpoint for oil and gas investors is a decrease in global demand growth for crude and resulting downward pressure on prices. Since the end of 2005, global demand growth has averaged 1.1%/year, which is approximately in line with the 40-year average."
However, demand from the big developed countries has dropped by about 3.7 million b/d, or 7.5%, since 2005, said Sexton.
"A mere slowdown in demand" from developing nations to the global average, said Sexton, "would result in a reduction of demand growth of slightly over 1 million b/d."