Natural gas futures climbed in early trading Wednesday as models continued to tease colder temperatures arriving around the middle of the month. The January Nymex contract was up 3.3 cents to $2.913/MMBtu at around 8:40 a.m. ET.
Trends in the major weather models were mixed over the previous 24 hours, Bespoke Weather Services said early Wednesday, noting that it made only minor revisions to its latest forecast. The firm said its overall gas-weighted degree day projections for the next 15 days diverge to the warm side of five- and 10-year norms.
“That’s not to say there is nothing bullish from the data, as we still see potential for some stronger cold to get involved in the pattern toward the middle of the month, at least in the central U.S., as the pattern morphs into one more typical of a La Nina pattern,” Bespoke said. “The issue has just been that any truly colder look has not progressed forward in the forecast, so far.”
In the fundamentals data, Bespoke pointed to a “strong revision” higher in power burns as a possible catalyst for the early gains in futures.
The market “has not proven it can hold any rally, as we feel that the data, combined with at least some risk of colder weather, should have had us closer to $3.00 in the prompt month contract already,” the firm said.
Sentiment has turned bearish in the gas market amid recent production growth, according to analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH).
“As recently as a month ago there was nary a bear to be found, but following a soft start to winter and a ramp in production, bulls are now few and far between, with most investors content to wait until the second half of 2021 before reevaluating a long position,” the TPH analysts said. Production levels recently increasing to 91 Bcf/d “not only took steam out of the winter trade and 2021 outlook but, more structurally, increased skepticism that producers will stick to a no-growth strategy.”
There remains a “strong fundamental setup” heading into 2022, “but with the bull pitch being predicated on limiting supply growth, skepticism is on the rise,” the TPH team added.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, NGI’s model landed on a 15 Bcf withdrawal for the week ended Nov. 27, bearish versus the 22 Bcf pull recorded in the year-ago period and the five-year average withdrawal of 41 Bcf.
Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate for a 6 Bcf withdrawal for the upcoming EIA report. The firm modeled a 1.0 Bcf/d week/week increase in total Lower 48 supply, including increases from the Haynesville Shale and the Gulf of Mexico.
The firm modeled a 1.4 Bcf/d week/week decline in demand for the period, pointing to a 5% drop in heating degree days and impacts to industrial gas use from the Thanksgiving holiday.
January crude oil futures were down 15 cents to $44.40/bbl at around 8:40 a.m. ET, while January RBOB gasoline was off fractionally to $1.2171/gal.
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