After a large drop in weather-driven demand expectations over the weekend, natural gas futures were trading several cents lower early Monday. The May Nymex futures contract was down 4.1 cents to $2.619/MMBtu just after 8:30 a.m. ET.
Over the weekend, weather models “trended considerably lower” in terms of the expected gas-weighted degree day totals for the next two weeks thanks to a “big warmer change” for both American and European guidance, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“The change came as a result of models shifting the look of the pattern on both the upstream Pacific side as well as the downstream Atlantic side, moving more solidly toward a positive” Eastern Pacific Oscillation and a positive North Atlantic Oscillation state, “both of which make it very difficult to get any notable cool air into the pattern across the United States,” Bespoke said.
The weaker weather-driven demand expectations coincided with higher production numbers, but gains in liquefied natural gas (LNG) feed gas demand could provide support, according to the firm.
“We are holding sentiment at neutral with prices at these levels, as, while data, especially on the demand side, is weak enough to suggest that we test the $2.60 level, the addition of LNG exports may be enough to keep cash firmer and help provide some support for prices,” Bespoke said.
Radiant Solutions similarly noted warmer changes in its latest 11-15 day forecast Monday compared to expectations prior to the weekend.
“The composite features above normal temperatures in the eastern third and Southwest, while temperatures lean on the cooler side of normal in the Northwest,” the forecaster said, cautioning that “confidence remains very low due to poor model agreement.”
As for the six- to 10-day outlook, “a strong low pressure system and associated cold front will be pressing into the East at the onset of the period, with much aboves out ahead in the Northeast and belows/much belows in its wake across the Midwest and South,” Radiant said. “Cool air is not expected to make inroads into the Northeast where aboves hold through the rest of the period, while the Midwest warms mid-period ahead of the next storm.”
Meanwhile, maintenance on the NET Mexico export pipeline out of South Texas this week could cut as much as 1.1 Bcf/d of exports, according to Genscape Inc. Starting Tuesday and continuing into the weekend, NET is expected to conduct maintenance on the Agua Dulce compressor, which effectively serves as a header for NET. NET in turn provides the “sole source of supply” for Mexico’s Los Ramones I pipeline.
“Genscape has a proprietary monitor that tracks near-real-time flows on NET,” senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin said. “Those cross-border flows have been averaging a steady 1.9 Bcf/d the past 14 days. This maintenance has occurred annually around this time of the year. During previous events there were no significant re-routes of exports. The Mexican market compensated for the cut to supply through demand reductions and increased LNG sendout.
“However, despite past events pushing supply back into South Texas’ Agua Dulce hub there generally were not any major price disruptions within South Texas.”
May crude oil futures were trading 64 cents lower at $63.25/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while May RBOB gasoline was off about 3 cents to $2.0074/gal.