Overnight weather models extended a recent cold shift in the forecasts, giving natural gas futures continued upward momentum in early trading Wednesday. The expiring February Nymex contract was up 6.2 cents to $2.718/MMBtu at around 8:40 a.m. ET, while the March contract was trading 6.0 cents higher to $2.696.
Another round of colder-trending weather data had the latest 15-day forecast from Bespoke Weather Services leaning to the chillier side of 30-year norms, the firm said in a note to clients early Wednesday.
“Much of the colder change the last several days has been centered around more storm-induced variability than projected a week ago as opposed to a true cold outbreak coming out of Canada, but that narrative changes in the 11 to 15 day period, as a stronger cold air mass is expected to push southward out of Canada into the U.S.,” Bespoke said. “Its focus appears to be in the middle of the nation, however, as opposed to hitting the more populated East and South.”
This mass of cold temperatures should be enough to drive a few days of above-normal gas-weighted degree day totals, but even a “small shift in the pattern” could produce large swings in degree days “if the cold winds up having more or less impact in the Midwest to East.”
After the latest shift in the weather models, analysts at EBW Analytics Group said they see increasing odds of colder temperatures lasting further into the month of February.
“While the models are due for a down day — which could cause gas to temporarily pull back — the cold scenario for the first half of February is supported by cold Arctic air in Canada, a strong Greenland block, increasing snow cover, favorable conditions in the Gulf of Alaska and movement” of the Madden Julian Oscillation “in the tropics toward a cold phase,” the EBW analysts said.
This comes as the once sizable year/year storage surplus is on track to evaporate soon, setting up potential gains for natural gas prices over the next two to three weeks, the analysts said.
Prompt month prices have also garnered strength this week from a combination of near-term cold weather and recovering liquefied natural gas (LNG) export volumes, according to Wood Mackenzie analyst Anthony Ferrara.
“Just over the past two days, we have added over 30 population weighted” heating degree days “to the forecast,” Ferrara said. “The bounce back in LNG export levels after the fog this weekend along with increased demand driven by this cold weather have helped to lift the prompt month after a week full of losses.”
Currently, the Mountain and Pacific regions are experiencing cold shots that began earlier in the week. Colder than normal temperatures are also on tap for the Midwest, with peak demand expected on Thursday, and the East, where demand is expected to peak on Friday, according to Wood Mackenzie projections.
March crude oil futures were off 8 cents to $52.53/bbl at around 8:40 a.m. ET, while February RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to $1.5714/gal.
© 2021 Natural Gas Intelligence. All rights reserved.
ISSN © 1532-1231 | ISSN © 2577-9877 |