Physical natural gas for Tuesday delivery inched higher as futures ratcheted lower in Monday’s trading. Robust gains were noted in the Northeast, Rockies and California, which barely overcame weakness in Texas, Louisiana, the Midwest and Midcontinent.
NGI National Spot Gas Average gained a penny to $2.42. Futures were lower from the get-go and at the close November had fallen 9.1 cents to $2.916, and December was lower by 7.5 cents to $3.106.
Forecasts of hefty eastern power demand kept a firm bid under the market at eastern points. ISO New England forecast that Monday's peak power load of 14,830MW would rise to 14,859MW Tuesday and by Wednesday reach 15,350 MW. The New York ISO predicted peak Monday load of 17,940 MW would climb to 17,967MW Tuesday and reach 18.694 MW Wednesday.
The National Weather Service in southeast Massachusetts reported that "high pressure centered over southern New England will bring cool nights and mild afternoons tonight through Tuesday night. As the high moves past US and south of the region, unseasonably warm afternoons are expected Wednesday and Thursday. A cold front should move across the region late Thursday into Friday with some showers and a few thunderstorms possible. Unsettled conditions return next weekend.
Gas at the Chicago Citygate fell 9 cents to $2.63 and deliveries to the Henry Hub skidded 8 cents to $2.81. Gas priced at the NGPL Midcontinent fell 7 cents to $2.48 and deliveries to El Paso Permian were quoted 15 cents lower at $2.16.
Out west gas at the PG&E Citygate fell 4 cents to $3.03 and Kern Delivery came in 7 cents higher at $2.56. Gas at the SoCal Citygate rose 45 cents to $3.29 and packages at the SoCal Border Average changed hands 14 cents higher at $2.61.
From a directional standpoint, risk managers are looking sideways to lower. "NYMEX was relatively flat this week, but we continue to see basis levels deteriorate, especially in the West," said Mike DeVooght, president of DEVO Capital in a weekend note to clients.
"On a trading basis, we continue to look for the gas market to trade sideways to lower for the next 3-4 weeks. We think there is a good chance for the gas market to test its August lows in the next few weeks."
Despite DeVooght's bearish slant, bulls can take heart in surging exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). According to recent EIA figures the United States exported 248.4 Bcf in July, a 1.9% decline from the previous month (253.3 Bcf) but a 31.7% increase from July 2016 (188.7 Bcf). LNG exports totaled 53.6 Bcf in July, a 2.2% increase from the preceding month (52.5 Bcf) but a whopping 241% increase from July 2016, when LNG exports totaled just 15.7 Bcf.
Ten countries imported U.S. LNG, via vessel and truck, in July. The largest importer was Mexico via vessel at 14.4 Bcf, but South Korea was a close second at 14.2 Bcf. By comparison, the United States only exported LNG to six countries in July 2016, with Chile taking the most via vessel at 6.1 Bcf. Still, LNG exports to Mexico, which included exports via vessel and truck, declined 41.6% from the preceding month (24.8 Bcf).
Forecasters are calling for a variety of changes to the near term outlook, but nothing significant enough to move the market. "The forecast undergoes a mix of changes versus the Sunday Update, coming in warmer in the East and cooler in the Midcontinent and South," said MDA Weather Services in its morning 6- to 10-day outlook for clients.
"The East carries much aboves, with the warmest conditions in the middle of the period with southwesterly flow out ahead of a deepening trough in the Midcontinent. The Midwest sees aboves/much aboves in the first half of the period before the aforementioned trough dives in and cools temperatures to near/marginally below normal levels late. The GFS [Global Forecast System] highlights potential cooler risks late. Models hint at development in the Gulf which will need to be monitored."