March Nymex natural gas futures were trading 2.4 cents higher at $2.666/MMBtu shortly before 9 a.m. ET Tuesday as forecasts lost some heating demand overnight but maintained a shift to more frigid temperatures starting this weekend and continuing into next week.
With the European model dropping “numerous” heating degree days from the outlook and the Global Forecast System (GFS) was mostly unchanged, NatGasWeather viewed the overnight forecast trends as mixed.
“Overall, a much colder U.S. pattern is on track for this weekend and next week with strong national demand returning,” the forecaster said. “Much of the data then sees a milder break over the East Feb. 23-24 with demand easing, but then major model differences for Feb. 24-26, where the GFS is quite a bit colder than the rest of the data by favoring cold air being more aggressive returning across the East.
“…Even with the coming colder U.S. weather pattern, prices are only 8 cents off multi-month lows and now 10 cents off Monday’s highs. Bears have been in solid control, and even with colder trends over the weekend bulls have to be a bit discouraged prices haven’t gained more.”
Based on overnight guidance, Bespoke Weather Services dropped a “solid chunk” of gas-weighted degree days (GWDD) from its latest forecast. Despite the GWDD losses, Bespoke said the latest guidance hinted at a Week 3 pattern that could bring “another significant shot of cold weather” to the East for late February and into March.
“Before then, we still have some days that are likely to warm as models pick up on exactly what days storms cut up the East and warm the coast as opposed to which days feature cold shots, but the bias remains to the cold side and any small GWDD losses there will likely be canceled out by long-range cold being able to roll forward,” Bespoke said.
A light withdrawal reported in this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report could keep prices from rallying, but “given tighter balances at these lower price levels, we see little reason for another leg lower and instead would favor bounces on any colder weather model guidance.”
Energy Aspects issued a preliminary estimate calling for an 80 Bcf withdrawal from this week’s EIA report, based on a “crash” in residential/commercial heating demand of 17 Bcf/d week/week and 5.2 Bcf/d drop in power demand. Liquefied natural gas feedgas activity was down 2.5 Bcf/d week/week. These demand declines “easily trump a 2.5 Bcf/d drop in supply” for the period, according to the firm.
Following last week’s 237 Bcf pull, this week’s storage report is “clearly weighing on market sentiment as the return to an 80 Bcf withdrawal signals to some that winter is effectively over, although our balances are pointing to an end-March inventory position just below 1.1 Tcf,” Energy Aspects said. Despite recent weakness in Henry Hub cash prices, “it might only take one bout of sustained cold to push the heating season’s carryout below 1 Tcf. Winter is not quite over yet.”
March crude oil was trading $1.28 higher at $53.69/bbl shortly before 9 a.m. ET, while March RBOB gasoline was trading about 3.4 cents higher at $1.4531/gal.
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