Prompt-month natural gas futures were down 2.0 cents to $3.192/MMBtu shortly before 9 a.m. ET Wednesday as forecasters pointed to the potential for milder temperatures to develop after the first week of November.
Bespoke Weather Services viewed the overnight weather model guidance as slightly more bearish based on a setup that despite showing a “weak long-range cold shot” during the first week of November appears unlikely to deliver above average gas-weighted degree days into Week 3 of the outlook.
“Our sentiment remains at slightly bearish, as overnight weather model guidance confirmed our ideas that with any long-range warm risks prompt month prices above $3.20 are relatively unsustainable,” Bespoke said. “Already we have seen solid selling this morning on just a slight tick up in long-range warm risks.”
Near-term cash strength driven by cold could see the market bounce back toward the $3.20 area, the firm said.
“However, we believe that into mid-November warmth wins out and...by the end of the week we expect at least $3.10 to be put back in play...with a $3 test likely through next week as well.”
Radiant Solutions noted cooler changes overnight to its latest six- to 10-day (Oct. 29-Nov. 2) outlook, with a mix of changes observed in the 11-15 day (Nov. 3-7) period.
In the six- to 10-day, “the forecast leans cooler...versus previous expectations, with the focus of the adjustment coming in the southern half. This is a result of model trends in weakening low pressure tracking through the Midcontinent in the mid to late period, with associated warming out ahead of the feature being lessened. Below normal temperatures are favored in the South and East through mid-period before temperatures moderate late.”
The 11-15 day forecast, meanwhile, leans colder in the East and warmer in the West, Radiant said.
“The overall themes remain, however, with below normal temperatures being focused in the Midcontinent at the start and slowly progressing eastward as the period progresses.”
Meanwhile, nuclear capacity outages have likely reached their seasonal peak, according to Genscape Inc. senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin.
“Nuclear Regulatory Commission data shows there was 25.6 GW of nuclear nameplate capacity offline on Monday. That is the highest amount of capacity on outage since May 2016,” Margolin said. “...As a result of many plants having entered early maintenance, we should start to see the return to market of several plants in the coming days.
“Today’s capacity outage is already down 0.5 GW from Monday’s peak. Presently there are 28 total units offline or operating at reduced capacity. Of these, 18 have been down for 30 or more days, which would suggest they are nearing the end of their maintenance cycle,” hw said.
“Collectively, the return of these 18 plants would restore 18.6 GW of nuclear generation capacity. On an assumed one-to-one gas-burn replacement, this is roughly the equivalent of 2.6 Bcf/d of gas demand, though actual replacement is much lower given loads are lower this time of year and other fuels are contributing to regional stacks.”
At around 8:30 a.m. ET, December crude oil was trading 35 cents higher at $66.78/bbl, while November RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.8407/gal.