A colder shift in the latest forecasts starting around the second week of January had natural gas futures bouncing back from pre-holiday losses early Thursday. The January Nymex contract was up 8.4 cents to $2.256/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
The latest model guidance maintained similar demand expectations overall for the next two weeks but shifted colder in the 11- to 15-day period, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
This colder shift was “a little surprising given a continued tendency” in the pattern toward a combination of a positive Eastern Pacific Oscillation (EPO) and a positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Bespoke said. “This gives us some pause, as this suggests that either the projected 11- to 15 day cold weakens again as it rolls into the six- to 10-day, or the cold shot is real but just a narrow colder window in the sea of a warmer pattern type.
“For now, we did adjust the forecaster colder starting on Jan. 5 but did not move as cold as the current model consensus, as we want to see progression forward, or see a more pronounced change in the EPO/NAO configuration that would be more supportive for a material colder turn.”
Maxar’s Weather Desk also observed colder changes in its latest forecast for the Jan. 5-9 time frame.
The colder trends came “in response to model trends in the south displacement of the tropospheric polar vortex,” the forecaster said. The result of the large-scale pattern “includes the establishment of colder source in Canada, and a round of belows breaking away into the East at mid-period.
“Increased variability is the main theme, with expectation for warmer Southeast ridging to rebuild again late in the period. Confidence is on the lower side of usual overall.”
Meanwhile, the demand impact of the Christmas holiday appeared to be in line with historical comparisons, according to Genscape Inc. The firm estimated total Lower 48 demand Wednesday of 83.8 Bcf/d.
“While the number is likely to be revised following incorporation of later cycle data, so far it appears to represent a decline of about 17% to the prior seven day average,” Genscape senior natural gas analyst Rick Margolin said. “While that is a much larger decline than last year, it is in line with a broader history set.
“Last year Christmas Day demand fell just 4%. Not only were temperatures colder than the prior week, but the holiday fell on a Tuesday, so the preceding seven day average contained a full weekend and the subsequent Monday” when many businesses likely took off to make it a long weekend, according to Margolin. “Prior to last year, we typically saw midweek Christmas Day events curtail demand by about 17%.”
February crude oil futures were trading close to even at $61.15/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while January RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally higher at $1.7331/gal.
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