Colder forecasts over the weekend for the first third of March helped send natural gas futures higher early Monday, though questions remained as to the duration of cold in the long-range outlook.
The March Nymex contract was up 3.8 cents to $2.755/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while the April contract was up 2.5 cents to $2.764.
NatGasWeather noted colder trends in the weekend weather data, particularly for the period starting Friday (March 1) and continuing through March 9.
Models over the weekend showed “much of the country becoming significantly colder than normal as frigid cold blasts with Arctic origins sweep across the northern and central U.S.,” according to the forecaster. “However, the weather data March 10-12 favors a warm ridge building over the southern and eastern U.S. in a much less intimidating pattern.
“...Bulls gained some momentum last week by keeping prices solidly above $2.55 but need to hold $2.65-2.70” to have a better chance of reasserting themselves, NatGasWeather said. “...With much below normal conditions expected across most of the country March 1-9, deficits are likely to increase towards 500 Bcf, keeping the background state bullish.”
Bespoke Weather Services similarly noted a “healthy addition” of gas-weighted degree days over the weekend in its forecast for the first third of March.
The forecaster called it “one of the coldest starts to March we’ve seen in quite a long time. This is the window where we believe factors such as as tropical forcing do solidly favor colder weather spreading into the eastern half of the nation, but the intensity has picked up since Friday.
“We continue to see support for cold waning beyond March 10, and this is showing up at the ends of the ensembles, but the colder shift prior to that time frame is the main weather headline at this point in time, along with the consideration that models can often be too quick regarding pattern change ideas,” Bespoke said.
Meanwhile, looking at the recent supply picture, Niobrara-Denver Julesburg Basin production dipped more than 0.55 Bcf/d during the weekend but appeared to have recovered to normal levels as of Monday morning, according to Genscape Inc.
The firm said the drop in output coincided with an operational flow order from Colorado Interstate Gas Co. LLC (CIG) Saturday, which cited a “supply shortfall resulting from loss of a hydrocarbon liquids pipeline.”
“CIG receipts from the O’Connor, Lucerne, Lancaster and Platte Valley gas processing plants, which together had brought an average of 849 MMcf/d onto CIG in the previous week, dropped to as low as 485 MMcf/d during Saturday’s intraday cycles and as low as 313 MMcf/d during Sunday’s evening cycle,” Genscape said. “Nominations for today are back to near normal.
“At the moment we have not determined which liquids pipeline was the cause of the issue,” the firm said. “The Wattenburg, Overland Pass and Front Range systems are all in the area. Genscape proprietary monitors of the Texas Express Pipeline -- which is fed by Front Range -- did detect a sharp drop in liquids flows on Saturday, along with a rebound that roughly coincides with the restoration of gas deliveries to CIG.”
April crude oil futures were off $1.33 to $55.93/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while March RBOB gasoline was trading about 3.8 cents lower at $1.5733/gal.