For the second straight week, forwards markets moved lower for the period between Oct. 23 and Oct. 29 even after a bullish surprise storage report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA reported a 63 Bcf build to storage inventories for the week ending Oct. 23, much lower than estimates in the upper 60 Bcf range. Still, stocks are now 11.8% above year-ago levels and 4.1% above the five-year average.
And with weather forecasters not yet convinced of any sustained cold in the near term, forwards markets continued their slide as the December prompt month shed around 20 cents at most market hubs and as much as 68 cents in the Northeast, according to NGI’s Forward Look.
That large drop belonged to the Algonquin Gas Transmission citygates, which has seen December plunge 96 cents just in recent weeks, settling Oct. 29 at $5.96, Forward Look data shows. The balance of winter (January-March) also tumbled 68 cents during that period, settling Thursday at $7.80.
Other markets in the typically high-demand Northeast also posted sharp losses for the week.
Tetco M3 December fell 32 cents to $2.34, while the balance of winter dropped 34 cents to $4.23.
Transco Zone 6-New York saw December tumble 58 cents to around $4 and the balance of winter plummet 59 cents to $8.30.
Aside from brief blasts of cold, the Northeast has yet to register temperatures that are both low enough and last long enough to spark sustained demand.
"It will take major bullish trends in weather guidance to reverse this market, which remains in a state of free-fall, and until we see that, further short-term downside very likely exists for prices," said forecasters with Bespoke Weather Services.
NatGasWeather's team of forecasters agrees that while the potential is there for sub-freezing weather to arrive and last in the coming weeks, there is simply not enough support to sway natural gas markets.
Instead, it appears the United States will continue to see temperatures swing from cold over the Halloween weekend to warm during the first week of November to cold again during the second week of November.
"How much cooling arrives during the second week of November is dependent over when the weather system over the Southwest finally ejects and tracks east late next week and whether another one follows in its place," NatGasWeather said.
The agency said while some of the weather data shows fairly cold air pushing into the northern part of the country in the wake of the departing system, another camp favors it playing milder, with the ridge giving up some ground over the eastern U.S. for a couple of days before returning.
"Regardless, there will be increasing natgas demand during the second week of November after being lighter than normal next week. It's just the data hasn't convincingly shown by how much and for how long," NatGasWeather said.
Early projections from Genscape show demand in New England reaching 2.55 Bcf/d on Nov. 6 and then climbing to 2.77 Bcf/d by Nov. 13.
Appalachian demand is projected to hit 11.57 Bcf/d on Nov. 6 and climb to 12.49 Bcf/d by Nov. 13.
Genscape, based in Louisville, KY, provides real-time data and intelligence for energy and commodity markets.
But winter prices weren't the only ones to post dramatic declines. Summer prices also fell a little more than 10 cents on average as the apparent delayed start to winter sets up the possibility of another strong storage picture next year.
Nymex prices for summer 2016 (April-October) settled Oct. 29 at $2.50, a drop of 14 cents from Oct. 23 and 18 cents below where cash prices averaged this summer, according to Forward Look data.
In the Northeast, summer 2016 prices at Transco zone 6-New York sat Thursday at $1.97, 4 cents lower than on Oct. 23 and 39 cents lower than cash prices this summer.
In California, summer 2016 at the PG&E citygates settled Thursday at $2.82, a drop of 13 cents on the week and 26 cents below this summer's cash average.
Southern California Border summer 2016 prices were at $2.49, down 11 cents from Oct. 23 and 21 cents below this summer's cash price.
Only Dominion South point showed higher prices next summer when compared to this year as increasing takeaway capacity in the region is expected to lift prices.
Dominion summer 2016 sat Oct. 29 at $1.55, down 1 cent from Oct. 23 but up 19 cents from this summer's cash average.