Six energy prognosticators over the past week have raised their outlooks for domestic natural gas prices this year, with one indicating that $4.50/MMBtu this summer is “on the table” based on a colder-than-expected end to winter and slowing production in major onshore basins.
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Cash prices overall fell an average of about a nickel Wednesday as temperature outlooks held close to seasonal norms and power generation economics got out of alignment. New England points suffered multi-dollar declines, but eastern and Texas prices weakened as well. At the close of trading the expired December contract had fallen 7.3 cents to $3.696 and January had lost 9.1 cents to $3.801. January crude oil fell 69 cents to $86.49/bbl.
Cash prices overall tumbled 17 cents on average Thursday as weather outlooks changed abruptly. Northeastern points were the hardest hit with prices free-falling upwards of $2 at some locations, but the East and Texas suffered losses as well. At the close of futures trading December had risen 3.0 cents to $3.608 and January was higher by 2.3 cents to $3.737. December crude oil gained 65 cents to $85.09/bbl.
Both cash and financial gas advanced Monday, although marketers were trying to digest mixed weather outlooks and financial traders saw nothing on the horizon to indicate market fundamentals had changed. Nationwide cash prices rose by about a nickel with strong gains reported at Northeast points and more modest advances along the Gulf. At the close of futures trading May had risen 3.5 cents to $2.016 and June gained 2.4 cents to $2.108. May crude oil was up 10 cents to $102.93/bbl.
January natural gas crept higher Tuesday as medium-term weather outlooks called for an uncertain cold spell and analysts admitted difficulty discerning natural gas’ next move. At the close January had added 2.6 cents to $3.487 and February had gained 3.3 cents to $3.523. January crude oil rose 29 cents to $101.28/bbl.
A pair of winter weather outlooks released last week by prominent forecasters call for colder weather across the Mid-Atlantic region in coming months, and each said the nation’s winter weather will be significantly effected by the current El Nino event, though one outlook called for a fading El Nino and the other sees El Nino strengthening.
The cash market was a mishmash of higher, lower and flat quotes Monday as varying points reacted to a variety of weather outlooks and capacity constraints. There was little consistency of price movement within individual market areas other than the Northeast tending to see the greatest strength and Midwest citygates being solidly softer. The return of industrial load after a weekend hiatus provided a little support in all areas.
With bearish weather and storage outlooks little changed Wednesday from the day before, some traders were a bit surprised to see Tuesday’s hemorrhaging of spot prices come to a halt so soon for the most part. But they cited further buying for storage injections and the probability of power generation maintenance shifting load to gas peaking units as reasons for the rebounds.