A consistently warm weather outlook and steady balance data saw natural gas futures trading close to even early Wednesday. The April Nymex contract was trading at $1.798/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, off 0.2 cents from Tuesday’s settle.
The overnight guidance did little to alter the weather picture, with forecasters continuing to predict widespread warmer-than-normal conditions deep into the month of March.
“So far, all of the changes we have seen this week have been detail changes, as the big picture remains unchanged,” Bespoke Weather Services said. “A strong upper level ridge is forecast to persist in the eastern half of the nation more often than not, resulting in above to much above normal temperatures in key areas of the Midwest and East, as well as down into parts of the South at times.”
Maxar’s Weather Desk similarly characterized Wednesday’s updated forecast for the period from Monday through March 13 as retaining the “overall themes” from its previous forecast, noting only small warmer changes in the East and the Rockies during this time frame.
“Above normal temperatures span most areas from the Rockies points eastward, with risks being mixed depending on the details surrounding a series of storm systems tracking through,” Maxar said.
Further out in the March 14-18 window, Maxar said its updated forecast “carries similar themes” but leans in the warmer direction for the eastern half of the Lower 48.
“The large scale pattern is of positive Arctic Oscillation characteristics, where still stronger than normal winds surrounding the Arctic act as a barrier to prevent polar air from spilling southward,” the forecaster said.
Much like the weather outlook, the latest balance data heading into Wednesday’s session showed no major changes day/day, according to Bespoke.
“This is the time last year we began to see production ramp up, but so far we are not seeing that this month,” Bespoke said. Liquefied natural gas exports remain “well off” their highs at 7.1 Bcf/d. “Power burns are not as impressive, but demand has been quite low recently. While we cannot say for certain, we feel rather comfortable suggesting that the intraday low back on Friday could have been the bottom.”
Genscape Inc.’s estimate of Lower 48 production volumes through the first four days of March showed an average of 92.6 Bcf/d, down around 0.6 Bcf/d from the average over the final seven days of February.
The firm said in a note to clients that Gulf Coast region production is down 0.27 Bcf/d, with Permian volumes off by 0.22 Bcf/d. Rockies output is down around 0.15 Bcf/d, and production in the Midcontinent is down around 0.1 Bcf/d.
“We believe there is close to 0.6 Bcf/d of freeze-offs, with the bulk in the Green River area of southwestern Wyoming and some in the Denver-Julesburg,” Genscape said.
April crude oil futures were up 73 cents to $47.91/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while April RBOB gasoline was trading about 2.0 cents higher at $1.5516/gal.