June natural gas was set to open Wednesday slightly higher at around $2.739/MMBtu as forecasters tallied some overnight weather-related demand gains in the latest outlook.
EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman said the morning six- to 10-day forecast Wednesday showed gains in both cooling and heating demand, while the 11-15 day showed gains in cooling demand. The recent gains in cooling degree days are “concentrated in the Southeast, where they are likely to have a meaningful impact on air conditioning demand.
“This morning’s increase in demand, coupled with expectations for a reported injection Thursday that pares the storage deficit versus the five-year average only slightly, is likely to lead to another challenge to resistance today,” Weissman said. “With a long string of 100-plus Bcf injections expected to start next week, however, resistance is likely to hold.”
Barring a “significantly smaller than expected” storage injection reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Thursday, “once the dust settles after EIA issues the report, gas prices could start to erode,” according to Weissman.
NatGasWeather.com said the overnight weather data showed “a few days a touch cooler and a few slightly hotter to add just a little more demand.”
Overall, the firm said it sees weather patterns as “neutral to bearish...until more ominous heat becomes widespread.” While temperatures are “beginning to get a touch hot over the southern U.S., we aren’t expecting 90s to be widespread and sustained until later this month.” At that point markets will closely monitor the impact on power burns.
“If there are only slight changes in power burns with increasing heat, this is likely to be viewed as bearish as they really need to increase at least a few Bcf/d year/year to partially offset record production,” NatGasWeather said. “Until then, a fierce battle continues between bullish deficits and bearish production, with neither camp being able to find sustained strength or momentum.”
Intercontinental Exchange EIA storage futures settled Tuesday at an injection of 94 Bcf for Thursday’s report, which will cover the week ending May 4. Last year, EIA recorded a 49 Bcf injection for the period, and the five-year average for the week is a build of 75 Bcf, EIA data show.
Meanwhile, as Genscape Inc. natural gas analyst Rick Margolin noted Wednesday, the big news in the energy space this week came when President Trump on Tuesday announced that he would be withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.
“The withdraw came with a warning,” mostly to European Union buyers, “to begin curtailing crude oil purchases from Iran,” Margolin said. He noted the news helped lift West Texas Intermediate crude prices above $70/bbl “for the first time since November 2015.”
And higher crude prices mean more associated gas, Margolin noted.
“These rallies in crude keep lifting our Spring Rock production forecasts” for natural gas, with forecasts this week showing a “year-on-year increase of more than 7.5 Bcf/d for the calendar strip,” he said. “The crude rally’s impact on gas production resonates in liquids-rich plays” like the Permian Basin, Denver-Julesburg and Bakken Shale. “Even in areas like the Eagle Ford, which -- just a few months ago -- was priced to show declining gas production is now poised to add more than 0.3 Bcf/d year-on-year.”
June crude oil was set to open about $1.71 higher Wednesday at $70.77/bbl, while June RBOB gasoline was trading about 4 cents higher at around $2.1547/gal.