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East Seen Milder in Mid-November; December Natural Gas Called Lower

December natural gas futures were trading 4.9 cents lower at $3.188/MMBtu shortly before 9 a.m. ET Friday as forecasts overnight advertised the potential for milder conditions in the East toward the second half of November.

Bespoke Weather Services noted overnight model guidance showing more trough risk across the Pacific Northwest that could “allow more of a ridge in the Southeast to maintain and limit the progression of cold into the East.

“This comes after a solid shot of cold weather in the medium-range that likely will be focused around Nov. 9,” Bespoke said. “However, the trend is clearer now that any cold should not be as sustained, fitting better with the atmospheric indicators we have been monitoring over the last week and a half that favor warmth for mid-November. There may still be some lingering cold risks in the Midwest, but ridging into the East should win out into Week 3” to keep gas-weighted degree days slightly below average.

The forecaster doesn’t expect prices to trend down in a straight line, with cash-driven bounces up to $3.25 still a possibility Friday morning, but “with model guidance finally trending more toward our ideas in the long-range, we have more confidence in these bounces failing and an eventual break back lower toward $3.10.”

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday reported a 48 Bcf injection into Lower 48 natural gas stocks for the week ended Oct. 26, slightly below survey averages. Last year EIA recorded a 65 Bcf injection for the week, and the five-year average is a build of 62 Bcf. Total working gas in underground storage stood at 3,143 Bcf as of Oct. 26, down 623 Bcf (16.5%) from last year and 638 Bcf (16.9%) below the five-year average, according to EIA.

While this week’s storage build widened deficits, it was loose on a weather-adjusted basis, according to analysts.

“Compared to degree days and normal seasonality, the 48 Bcf injection is about 4.3 Bcf/d loose versus the five-year average,” Genscape Inc. analysts Margaret Jones and Eric Fell said. “Total power generation was down around 4 average GWh versus last week.

“Collectively, nuclear and renewable generation were down around 2 average GWh week/week (w/w) as solar and hydro collectively were up around 1 average GWh and wind was down 3 average GWh w/w. Coal was up around 0.5 average GWh w/w, and gas generation was down a little over 3.5 average GWh for an estimated 0.7 Bcf/d less gas burn w/w.”

Analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) viewed the market as about 3.0 Bcf/d oversupplied on a weather-adjusted basis for the report week.

“Record high supply (87.7 Bcf/d) remains at odds with record low inventories (about 10% below the five-year minimum),” the TPH team said. “Cooler-than-normal temperatures through mid-November will likely cause prices to migrate higher, but prices remain capped by expectations for El Nino and ramping supply.”

Shortly before 9 a.m. ET, December crude oil futures were down 26 cents to $63.43/bbl, while December RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.7193/gal.

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