A large warm shift from the major weather models overnight sent natural gas futures tumbling in early trading Monday. Shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, the March Nymex contract was down 5.2 cents to $1.853/MMBtu.
Weather models had leaned milder over the weekend but “moved more significantly in the warmer direction” overnight, Bespoke Weather Services said. The forecaster removed close to 10 gas-weighted degree days from its updated forecast through the first nine days of March.
“The reason for the change continues to be the same issue that has plagued the pattern the entire winter season,” namely a positive Eastern Pacific Oscillation/Arctic Oscillation combination that is expected to continue dominating, Bespoke said. “Models have continually struggled in this setup, consistently forecasting too much cold in the medium range.
“We are again warmer than the model consensus in the 11-15 day time frame in the eastern half of the nation for this same reason. There can be some occasional cold in parts of the Interior West, although even there, we are not expecting to see strong cold.”
Natural gas bears have the upper hand once again, EBW Analytics Group analysts said in a note to clients early Monday.
“Since last Friday, the European and American weather models have trended significantly warmer, with large changes occurring during the past 24 hours,” the EBW analysts said. “While a cold shot is still expected to start on Thursday of this week, it is forecast to be shorter and milder and followed by greater warming than had been expected last week.”
The next three storage weeks “have all lost significant space heating demand” based on the latest forecast changes, which sets the stage for “a significant price decline for natural gas this week,” they said.
Meanwhile, looking at the supply picture, Canadian imports were in retreat as of Monday, dropping back below the 5 Bcf/d mark, according to Genscape Inc.
“Last week, imports surged to 6 Bcf/d, and the week prior saw a 6.5 Bcf/d print, primarily driven by seasonal cold in the Northeast bringing incremental molecules” via the Iroquois Gas Transmission and Maritimes and Northeast pipeline systems, Genscape senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin said. “With cold having departed, volumes are back down.
“Despite the recent days’ declines, February month-to-date total U.S. net imports from Canada are averaging 5.1 Bcf/d, which is about 0.7 Bcf/d above this past January and nearly 0.8 Bcf/d above February 2019...March volumes are expected to show their typical seasonal retreat as well as show some moderate year/year declines, primarily resulting from the ongoing storage deficit in Western Canada that needs to be rebuilt.”
April crude oil futures were down $2.11 to $51.27/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while March RBOB gasoline was off about 5.9 cents to $1.5918/gal.