U.S. natgas slips 2% to 25-month low on milder Feb weather forecast
Adds latest prices
Feb 3 (Reuters) -U.S. natural gas futures slidabout 2% to a 25-month low on Friday on forecasts for milder winter weather than expected over the next two weeks, andlower heating demand.
The gas contract was down more than63% over the past seven weeks, its biggest seven-week collapse in history. January temperatures in the U.S. Lower 48 states averaged about 41.8 degrees Fahrenheit (5.7 Celsius),second warmest on record for the month.
The warmest January on record was in 2006 when the temperature averaged 42.8 F, according to data from Refinitiv and the federal government.
In an outlook that has further depressed gas prices, meteorologists forecast the current extreme cold freezing parts of the country would end on Feb. 4 and average temperatures will climb back to mostly above-normal levels from Feb. 5 through at least Feb. 18.
Prices fell even though cold weather cut output by freezing oil and gas wells and expectations mounted that theFreeport liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Texas couldstart pulling in big amounts of fuel as it restarts LNG production in coming weeks.
Federal regulators this week approved Freeport's plan to start sending gas to one of the plant's three liquefaction trains, which turn gas into LNG. On Thursday, Freeport asked regulators for permission to start loading LNG on ships to free up space in the storage tanks for the new LNG expected to be produced soon.
Analysts, however, have said they still do not expect Freeport to return to full LNG production until mid-March or later.
Freeport, the second-biggest U.S. LNG export plant, shut after a fire in June 2022. The energy market expects gas prices to rise once the plant starts producing LNG again. When operating at full power, Freeport can turn about 2.1 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into LNG each day. That is about 2% of total U.S. daily gas production.
Federal regulators will hold a public meeting on Freeport on Feb. 11 to provide members of the community and other interested parties an opportunity to voice their concerns about Freeport's restart plans and get an update on what's happening at the plant.
Over the past week, U.S. gas output has dropped about 3.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to a one-month low of 93.6 bcfd as winter storms freeze oil and gas wells - known as freeze-offs - in several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
Front-month gas futures NGc1 for March delivery fell 4.6 cents, or 1.9%, to settle at $2.410 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their lowest close since December 2020.
That put the contract down about 22.5% this week, its biggest weekly decline since plunging 23.0% in December.
With extreme cold blanketing the U.S. Northeast, next-day power prices for Friday in New England EL-PK-NPMS-SNL soared 140% to around $237 per megawatt hour (MWh), their highest since late December.
Spot gas prices in New England NG-CG-BS-SNL soared 437% to $26 per mmBtu, also their highest since late December. At those prices, it makes sense for some New England power generators to burn oil instead of gas. The region was currently getting about 11% of its generation from oil and 24% from gas.
On average, about 50% of the power generated in New England comes from gas with less than 1% from oil. But on the coldest days, oil-fired generators can produce over 20% of the grid's power.
That's because most of the pipeline gas going to New England is used to heat homes and businesses on those cold days, forcing generators to rely on more expensive oil and LNG.
Week ended Feb 3 (Forecast)
Week ended Jan 27 (Actual)
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SNL U.S. Natural Gas Next-Day Prices ($ per mmBtu)
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Transco Z6 New York NG-CG-NY-SNL
PG&E Citygate NG-CG-PGE-SNL
Eastern Gas (old Dominion South) NG-PCN-APP-SNL
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SNL U.S. Power Next-Day Prices ($ per megawatt-hour)
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Ercot North EL-PK-ERTN-SNL
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Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by David Gregorio
For Refinitiv type ENERGY in Eikon search bar and then go to the GAS drop down and the NORTH AMERICA drop down or see: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageid=usa-gas
For Interactive Map, type 'Interactive Map' in the box at upper left of the Reuters nEiko terminal.
For graphics on Baker Hughes rig counts, see: http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/15/rigcount/index.html
For next-day SNL U.S. gas prices, see: 0#SNL-NG
For next-day SNL U.S. power prices, see: 0#SNL-PWR
For U.S. natgas price and storage polls, see: NGAS/POLL
For U.S. nuclear power outages, see: NUKE/
For U.S. Northwest hydro power report, see: NWRFC
For U.S./Canada natural gas rig count vs Henry Hub futures price, see: http://tmsnrt.rs/2eT9k44
For the U.S. natural gas speed guide, see: USGAS
For the U.S. power speed guide, see: USPOWER
To determine CFTC managed money net position add (NYMEX Henry Hub options and futures combined 3023651MNET) plus (ICE Henry Hub options and futures combined 3023391MNET divided by four) plus (NYMEX Henry Hub swaps options and futures combined 303565BMNET divided by four) plus (NYMEX Henry Hub penultimate gas swaps 303565CMNET divided by four)
NYMEX Henry Hub options and futures combined 0#3CFTC023651
NYMEX Henry Hub futures only 0#1CFTC023651
ICE Henry Hub options and futures combined 0#3CFTC023391
NYMEX Henry Hub swaps options and futures combined 0#3CFTC03565B
NYMEX Henry Hub Penultimate gas swaps 0#3CFTC03565C
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