Natural gas futures hovered close to even early Wednesday as forecasts showing sustained mild temperatures put downward pressure on prices. The November Nymex contract was off 1.5 cents to $5.490/MMBtu at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
Updated forecasts early Wednesday continued to look bearish even with “some minor gains” in expected demand that would periodically bring gas-weighted degree days closer to normal levels over the next 15 days, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
“The background state remains skewed quite warm, focused in the central U.S., but with a lack of chill anywhere thanks to a Pacific pattern that is very hostile toward delivery of any true chilly air into the U.S.,” Bespoke said.
The firm noted “some modest blocking” near term that “keeps the eastern U.S. closer to normal after the next few days, but that appears to be on a waning trend in the data as we move to late month.”
In terms of prices, as of early Wednesday Bespoke said volatility appeared likely to continue, creating the potential for “wild moves in either direction.” Still, the firm characterized its outlook as “slightly bearish” given the prospect of mild weather extending into late October and early November, when it would “gradually increase headwinds in the market.”
On the liquefied natural gas (LNG) front, the resolution of annual maintenance at the Cove Point terminal represents a supportive development. Wood Mackenzie analyst Kara Ozgen said in a note to clients early Wednesday that flows to the terminal were back to pre-maintenance levels as of Tuesday’s gas day.
“Deliveries at Cove Point Plant have returned to pre-maintenance levels after 21 days of being nearly 0 MMcf/d,” Ozgen said.
Net scheduled flows on the Cove Point LNG Pipeline also returned to pre-maintenance levels Tuesday, increasing 743 MMcf/d day/day, according to the analyst.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to Thursday’s storage report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a net 76 Bcf injection for the week ended Oct. 8.
That would represent a build of sharply lower magnitude compared to the 112 Bcf injection in last week’s EIA report.
Energy Aspects said it projected a lower build this week “due to a 3.4 Bcf/d week/week gain in gas burn in power, as well as a 0.4 Bcf/d production decline driven by Appalachian maintenance.”
NGI’s machine learning model landed on a 93 Bcf injection for the upcoming report. The five-year average injection for the period is 79 Bcf, while the year-earlier period saw a net 50 Bcf injection, according to EIA.
November crude oil futures were down 70 cents to $79.94/bbl at around 8:45 a.m. ET.
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