Natural gas futures on Wednesday soared past $9.000/MMBtu for the first time since 2008 amid worries that fragile supplies may prove inadequate to meet summer cooling demand and robust calls for U.S. exports.

At A Glance:

  • Futures fly ahead of June’s expiry
  • LNG export demand intensifies
  • Spring production struggles fester

Traders through most of the year also have bought aggressively ahead of the prompt month’s final settlement, preferring to bet on bullish momentum given the supply/demand imbalance concerns. At its intraday peak Wednesday, the front month hit $9.399.

The June Nymex gas futures contract, a day before rolling off the books, later gave back some of the gains in afternoon trading but still advanced 17.5 cents day/day and settled at $8.971. July jumped...