A cooler forecast shift toward the end of the 15-day outlook had natural gas futures trading a few cents higher coming out of the weekend. The February Nymex contract was up 2.7 cents to $2.157/MMBtu just after 8:40 a.m. ET Monday.
Forecasts over the weekend eased demand projections compared to Friday’s outlook, but warmer changes were concentrated over the next 10 days, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“We did move the 11-15 day marginally colder, respecting a trend in the models to bring a small piece of Canadian cold across the Midwest and Northeast in the Jan. 16-18 period,” Bespoke said. There are risks, however, that guidance lessens the intensity of this cold shot as it gets nearer in time, similar to a stretch this week “that looked colder in models a week ago.
“There is an ample supply of cold in Canada and over parts of the western U.S., but the look of the pattern does not seem favorable for delivery into key areas farther east.”
Amid recent declines in projected demand, prices have shown “strong support” around $2.10-2.12 and could rebound should cold momentum continue to build in the models, according to EBW Analytics Group.
“Weather model guidance is finally showing a brief period of normal to slightly cooler-than-normal weather starting around Day 10, with the potential for a more sustained cooler shift beginning in the 16-20 day window,” EBW analysts said early Monday. “Additionally, natural gas production remains depressed” and liquefied natural gas exports “are soaring.”
Still, the EBW analysts said they see a high risk for forecasts to once again fail to deliver the kind of cold needed to rally the market.
“If support for a cooler shift continues to build, prices could quickly jump 10 cents or more,” they said. “The potential for a bearish shift, however, is almost as high, creating continued downside risk for natural gas.”
Looking at the balance picture, Genscape Inc. projects an increase in exports as flows to Mexico are restored following holiday period impacts.
“In the 14 days prior to the holidays, exports had averaged 5.1 Bcf/d,” Genscape senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin said. Between Christmas Eve and the day after New Year’s “flows averaged 4.2 Bcf/d. We also saw a notable dip on Friday due to maintenance out of South Texas. Another similar maintenance event will take place Jan. 16-22.”
As for Lower 48 production, Genscape’s estimates show supply hovering around 94 Bcf/d, including more than 0.5 Bcf/d of impacts from freeze-offs. However, freeze-offs appear to be “slightly waning,” according to Margolin.
February crude oil futures were trading 70 cents higher at $63.75/bbl shortly after 8:40 a.m. ET, while February RBOB gasoline was up about 1.8 cents to $1.7665/gal.