Natural gas futures pared some of their recent losses early Friday, adding back a penny or so as overnight weather data trended warmer. The July Nymex contract was up 1.3 cents to $1.840/MMBtu at around 8:40 a.m. ET.
As of early Friday the weather data had taken “another step in the hotter direction” over the past 24 hours, showing changes in the eastern half of the Lower 48 between days six and 15 of the outlook period, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“With projected global angular momentum anomalies heading negative over the next two weeks, signifying the atmosphere’s move toward a La Nina base state, confidence is increasing” in overall hotter trends for this summer, Bespoke said. “While not an extreme pattern at the moment, other than in parts of the central U.S. where stronger anomalies are most persistent, there is just a lack of cooling anywhere once beyond the start of next week. This keeps projected demand above even the hotter 10-year normal.”
Meanwhile, prices sold off Thursday as the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest storage report showed a plump 109 Bcf injection into inventories for the week ending May 22. The reported build fell on the higher end of a wide range of projections.
Total working gas in storage as of May 22 stood at 2,612 Bcf, 778 Bcf higher than last year and 423 Bcf above the five-year average, EIA said.
“This week’s EIA print likely represents the floor on demand, which we peg at 77.5 Bcf/d,” analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH) wrote in a note to clients. They expect gains from power demand heading into the summer to offset losses in residential/commercial demand. “The print matches the year-to-date high…and we expect at least one more 100 Bcf or higher build, and potentially as many as three, before cooling demand tightens the market in late June.”
TPH estimates showed current week balances “largely unchanged,” suggesting an injection of around 106 Bcf for next week’s EIA report.
Beyond next week’s storage report, TPH analysts expect production and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export utilization to be “the key variables to watch…LNG has surprised so far this week, recovering to an average of 6.2 Bcf/d (about 62% utilization), but we expect this will be short-lived given June cancelations and maintenance at Cove Point, scheduled to begin next week.
“On the supply side, flow data doesn’t yet show any meaningful return of associated volumes, but we’ll continue to monitor, as we expect a significant share” of the 2-3 Bcf/d TPH estimates is currently shut in “could return in June.”
July crude oil futures were down 70 cents to $33.01/bbl at around 8:40 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.0010/gal.
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