Cooler forecast trends over the weekend kept the pressure on natural gas futures prices early Monday. The expiring August Nymex futures contract was trading 0.8 cents lower at $2.161/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
Heading into Monday’s trading, Bespoke Weather Services highlighted a weaker weather outlook based on cooler trends starting around the second week of August. The outlook based on recent production and power burn data is “arguably even uglier,” according to the forecaster.
“Weekend weather changes were again to the cooler side as we suspected, as models hone in on the surface temperature pattern in response to a larger upper level trough moving into the eastern half of the nation in the 10-15 day time frame,” Bespoke said. “This trough is a little slower to arrive, giving a window of warmer change ahead of it early next week, but that is outweighed by cooler changes thereafter, and even some cooler change to this week.”
This comes as “production has moved back up within 0.25 Bcf/d of its highs, higher than at any point last week, and weekend burns were very weak on a weather-adjusted basis, marking two very weak weekends in a row,” the forecaster said.
Radiant Solutions similarly noted cooler changes in its latest 11-15 day outlook Monday, with the forecaster calling for more cool air to move into the northern part of the country during the period.
The pattern could result in “near to slightly below normal temperatures in the Midwest, while the South leans on the hotter side of normal,” Radiant said. “Above normal temperatures are also forecast in the Pacific Northwest. Confidence is held on the low side of moderate overall, with higher confidence being precluded by differences in the models.”
Meanwhile, Radiant’s latest six- to 10-day forecast “carries a mix of small changes” versus earlier expectations, “trending cooler from the Northwest to Central and warmer in the East. The period is one of changing conditions, as a trough settles over the Great Lakes at the end of the period. A round of below normal temperatures are associated in the North Central at that time. However, above normal temperatures can be expected in advance from the Upper Midwest toward the East.”
Going into the expiration of the August contract, which has sold off around 30 cents over the past two weeks, EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman said the front month is unlikely to stray too far from last Friday’s settlement price before going off the board Monday.
“With cash market demand expected to stay near last week’s for the first two or three weeks of August, September should be range-bound during its first week or two as the front month,” Weissman said. “By mid-August, however, air conditioning demand should rapidly fade, and start-up of the 2 Bcf/d Gulf Coast Express pipeline will only be a few weeks away.
“As this occurs, renewed downward pressure is likely, potentially driving the front end of the forward curve below $2.00 this fall and forcing electricity prices in gas-sensitive regions to new lows.”
September crude oil futures were trading 6 cents higher at $56.26/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while August RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally lower at $1.8692/gal.