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Late March Period Seen Milder Overnight; April Natural Gas Called Lower

April natural gas was set to open Wednesday about 4 cents lower at around $2.748 as overnight weather models trended milder, particularly in the forecast for late March.

“Forecasts overnight logged their first gas-weighted degree day (GWDD) losses of the week as we saw rather pronounced warming trends in the long-range across the majority of model guidance,” Bespoke Weather Service said in a morning note to clients. There’s “enough cold across the North to keep GWDDs significantly above average the next two weeks, but cold intensity ticked down Tuesday night with more southern warmth.”

In its 11-15 day outlook Wednesday, Radiant Solutions observed “warmer changes as models are coming into better agreement regarding the demise of the persistent negative North Atlantic Oscillation block. This is expected to allow for more variability in the East, although temperatures still remain on the cooler side of normal.”

A pattern developing during the forecast period shows cold “mainly focused from the northern Rockies to the north-central U.S. with occasional progression into the East,” Radiant said. “The far southern tier sees near to slightly above normal temperatures.”

NatGasWeather.com similarly noted “slight milder changes” overnight, with the models “still holding colder trends for late this week as a reinforcing cold shot out of Canada sweeps across the Northeast. The data also held colder trends over the eastern U.S. for the middle of next week as another weather system tracks through. Where the data was a little milder was after March 26 across the northern U.S., seeing less coverage of cold air.”

The market’s failure to rally further on colder trends that showed up earlier this week “seemed problematic for the bullish case as the data isn’t going to look colder than normal across the northern and eastern U.S. forever, and with the overnight data showing potential flaws in the colder case for the late March pattern, the markets could view it as showing milder trends.”

Bespoke said the pricing along the strip Tuesday suggested the April contract “would struggle to break out on GWDD additions but could fall back quickly on GWDD losses...We do still see the market as tight enough for rather limited further downside Wednesday unless afternoon model guidance trends far warmer, as we see very strong support from $2.68-2.71.

“This support may be tested ahead of Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) print, but with a supportive EIA print expected we would similarly expect this $2.69-2.81 range to hold even with weather a bit less bullish,” Bespoke said.

Stephen Smith Energy Associates on Monday forecast a 99 Bcf draw for the week ending March 9, versus a seasonally normal draw of 12 Bcf based on 2006-2010 norms. Intercontinental Exchange EIA storage futures settled at -100 Bcf Tuesday for the upcoming report.

The Desk’s Early View storage survey issued last Friday showed respondents on average expecting EIA to report a 93.5 Bcf withdrawal for the period, with estimates ranging from -63 Bcf to -109 Bcf. Last year 55 Bcf was withdrawn during the period, while the five-year average is a 97 Bcf withdrawal.

April crude oil was set to open about 52 cents higher at around $61.23/bbl, while April RBOB gasoline was up about 1.5 cents to around $1.9017/gal.

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