December natural gas futures were trading 8.4 cents higher at $4.122/MMBtu shortly before 9 a.m. ET Friday, with forecasters pointing to milder medium-range trends and a long-range pattern that presents risks for more cold weather beginning later this month.
Radiant Solutions said Friday its latest six- to 10-day forecast beginning Wednesday (Nov. 21-26) underwent some “notable warmer changes” compared to the previous day’s outlook.
“Strong high pressure is located over the eastern half at the start of the period, bringing much belows and strong belows to the East and lingering cold over the Midwest,” the forecaster said. “As the high shifts eastward, southwesterly flow in between the high and incoming low pressure into the Plains now looks to promote a round of above and even much above normal temperatures across the Midcontinent mid-period. The next round of high pressure looks to press into the northern Plains from Canada late.”
In the 11-15 day period from Nov. 26-30, Radiant said high pressure may move in more slowly than previously expected, bringing below-normal temperatures into the north-central United States early in the forecast period but arriving later into the East. But Radiant pointed to negative North Atlantic Oscillation, negative Arctic Oscillation and positive Pacific/North American signals that it said were all supportive of cold.
NatGasWeather similarly viewed the latest guidance as showing milder trends and widespread above normal temperatures beginning late next week (Nov. 23-26), with cold temperatures returning Nov. 27-30.
“The weather data has been struggling on exactly how the milder break Nov. 23-26 will play out, so what happens after is subject to weather model struggles as well,” according to the forecaster. “With that said, the overnight data suggests the weekend risk for late November and early December is to the colder side. It will be important to see what the midday data shows before the weekend break, because a gap must be expected Sunday evening/Monday morning based on early December temperature trends.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a somewhat larger than expected 39 Bcf injection into gas stocks for the week ended Nov. 9, compared with a 13 Bcf withdrawal recorded a year ago and a five-year average 19 Bcf injection. Total Lower 48 working gas in underground storage stood at 3,247 Bcf as of Nov. 9, 528 Bcf (14.0%) below last year and 601 Bcf (15.6%) below the five-year average.
“Compared to degree days and normal seasonality, the 39 Bcf injection is about 4.1 Bcf/d loose versus the five-year average,” Genscape Inc. analyst Margaret Jones said. “...While the year/year deficit is still more than 528 Bcf, it has narrowed to its closest point since February.”
Analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) viewed the market as about 2.5 Bcf/d oversupplied on a weather-adjusted basis for the latest EIA report week.
“U.S. dry natural gas production fell 0.5 Bcf/d week/week to 86.9 Bcf/d while the Mexican export slide continues, now approaching 2017 levels,” the TPH team said. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports climbed about 0.6 Bcf/d week/week with feedgas increasing to Train 5 at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana.
“With Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Train 1 reaching first LNG early this week, look to LNG exports to continue marching towards the 5.0 Bcf/d level over the short-term.”
December crude oil futures were trading $1.18 higher at $57.64/bbl shortly before 9 a.m. ET, while December RBOB gasoline was up about 3.1 cents to $1.5879/gal.