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Summer Heat Seen Easing by Mid-September as October Natural Gas Called Near Even

October natural gas futures were trading about 1.6 cents higher Wednesday morning at around $2.842/MMBtu, stanching the bleeding from the prior session’s selloff as forecasts overnight showed summer heat easing toward the second half of the month.

NatGasWeather said overnight models trended cooler for the mid-September period, showing widespread high pressure expected to develop next week tapering off afterwards.

“There had been notable weather model differences where the European was notably stronger/hotter with the upper ridge than the rest of the datasets,” the firm said. “However, the European backed off yesterday afternoon on the strength of the hot ridge and held the cooler trend overnight, falling better in line with the rest of the data in a neutral to bearish pattern going into the second half of the month.

“With summer heat still expected to wane as we get past mid-September, the markets will now only need to wait a little longer before record production has the opportunity to prove it will finally meaningfully reduce deficits” prior to the start of winter heating.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall Tuesday night over the Gulf Coast, with reports of power outages as the storm brought heavy rainfall and strong winds.

As of 8 a.m. ET Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Gordon had weakened to a tropical depression and was over Mississippi, moving northwest at about 14 mph.

“A northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days,” the NHC said. “On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will move across the lower Mississippi Valley today. A turn toward the north-northwest and north is forecast to occur on Friday.

“Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 35 mph with higher gusts in a few squalls near the center. Additional weakening is expected as Gordon moves farther inland.”

Genscape Inc. said so far the storm’s natural gas supply impacts appear to be limited to offshore gas production, with demand impacts along Gordon’s path “relatively minor” as of Wednesday morning.

Genscape’s Spring Rock production estimates were showing Gulf Coast region volumes hitting an 82-day low at 9.74 Bcf/d, down about 1.16 Bcf/d from the 30-day average prior to Gordon’s arrival, according to analyst Allison Hurley.

Gulf of Mexico “volumes, specifically, are the most impacted, with volumes dropping to 2.23 Bcf/d, about 0.6 Bcf/d below the 30-day average prior to the storm,” Hurley said. “To put this in perspective, current Gulf region volumes have fallen about 11% from the prior 30-day average. This is nearly equal to the percentage drop the region suffered during Hurricane Harvey last August. However, it is small relative to the 26% hit delivered by Hurricane Nate” last October.

On the demand side, evening cycle nominations for Wednesday’s gas day showed deliveries to demand facility types across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western portion of the Florida Panhandle down about 50 MMcf/d day/day, according to Hurley.

“Given current projections of Gordon’s path, any demand destruction attributed to the storm system will likely occur in the west-to-east swath from southeast Louisiana to the southern Alabama coastline today; then south central Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana through Thursday,” Hurley said. “As the remnants of the storm dissipate and track northward it is expected to bring some temperature relief in upper Midcontinent and Midwest markets, which may very slightly erode power burns in those areas later this week.”

October crude oil futures were trading about 97 cents lower at around $68.90/bbl, while October RBOB gasoline was down about 2 cents at around $1.9738/gal.

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