A glance at January bidweek natural gas prices failed to reflect a market entering the peak of winter; dramatic losses of more than $1 were common as early-season cold made way for a far milder December, with long-range outlooks not yet conclusive as to when frigid conditions would return. The NGI Bidweek National Avg. tumbled 82.5 cents to $4.315/MMBtu.
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It was a month of extremes for natural gas markets in November, featuring surging futures and negative spot trades in West Texas as early heating season cold brought volatility back with a vengeance; the NGI Bidweek National Avg. rocketed $1.955 higher to $5.14/MMBtu.
Widening storage deficits just weeks ahead of colder weather and cuts to Canadian imports have muddled the supply picture for the winter despite record production.
Meager natural gas storage inventories ahead of the 2018/19 winter helped futures bulls gain the momentum entering October bidweek, while physical prices in Appalachia and West Texas showed producers potentially feeling the shoulder season squeeze; the NGI National Bidweek Average climbed 3.5 cents from September bidweek to $2.675/MMBtu, which represents a 13.5-cent premium over October 2017 bidweek.
Late summer heat and hefty storage deficits took a back seat to record production as traders sent NGI’s National Bidweek Avg. down 12 cents from August to $2.64 for September, which is exactly on par to the penny with September 2017’s bidweek average.
With only a few months of injections left, steep natural gas storage deficits remain in key regions, but with production setting records and trending higher, prices haven’t responded.
Bidweek came at an opportune time for market bulls as weather forecasts showing warmer-than-normal weather across much of the country for the first half of the month lifted July bidweek prices, with especially stout increases seen in southern California, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.
As the saying goes, April heating demand brings May cooling demand, or something to that effect.
With an unusually cold April fading into memory and minimal weather catalysts expected over the month ahead, May natural gas bidweek traders were left to ponder the impact of a belated start to the injection season on a well-supplied market.
A hefty storage deficit combined with near-record production had April natural gas bidweek traders taking stock of the market’s supply and demand balance on the cusp of injection season; the NGI National Bidweek Average shaved off 7 cents month/month to $2.36/MMBtu.