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November Natural Gas Futures Called Sharply Higher on Expected Heating Demand Gains

Natural gas futures were trading sharply higher Monday morning as forecasts over the weekend added significant heating demand to the outlook; shortly before 9 a.m. ET, the November Nymex contract was trading 10.1 cents higher to $3.244/MMBtu.

Bespoke Weather Services greatly increased its gas-weighted degree day (GWDD) expectations for the next two weeks compared to Friday’s forecasts.

“Weather models did an about face this weekend, adding a very significant amount of heating demand in the short- and medium-range and showing lingering cold risks into the long-range,” Bespoke said. “...We now look to have multiple shots of colder weather focused in the Midwest that gradually spread into the East and help pull GWDDs decently above even seasonal averages through the next 15 days. The result is a massive addition in heating demand expectations relative to Friday even as cooling demand expectations have dipped accordingly.”

The firm said the cold looks to be short-lived, with climate guidance suggesting it won’t linger through the end of October or into November.

“We see short-term support all the way up toward the $3.25 level” as the market reacts to “sizably more GWDDs,” Bespoke said. “Any bullishness is limited by expectations that these cold shots are focused just over the next couple of weeks and should fade into the end of October. Also, production is back to record highs and we look for balances to further loosen through the coming week with another large injection.”

In what has become a familiar refrain, Genscape Inc. said its daily pipeline flow estimate showed Lower 48 production setting a new record during the weekend. Sunday’s estimated volume, which is subject to revision, came in just above 84.36 Bcf/d, according to Genscape senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin.

“Yesterday’s estimate is 0.6 Bcf/d above the prior 14-day average, with more than 0.5 Bcf/d of the growth coming out of the Northeast,” Margolin said. The recent commissioning of Atlantic Sunrise and Columbia Gas Transmission’s WB XPress contributed to the gains, “although it’s worth noting a good deal of their specific volumes are re-routes off other systems.

“Growth was surging prior to these, though, as Northeast producers have been taking advantage of all the new capacity from the last year to begin working through their inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells.”

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was tracking Tropical Storm Michael, located about 70 miles south of the western tip of Cuba as of 8 a.m. ET Monday. The storm was expected to strength into a hurricane soon and potentially make landfall over the Florida panhandle Wednesday.

“On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move northward across the Yucatan Channel today, and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico this evening through Wednesday,” NHC said. “Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday.”

A little before 9 a.m. ET, November crude oil was trading about $1.10 lower at around $73.24/bbl, while November RBOB gasoline was down about 3.2 cents to around $2.0541/gal.

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