Natural Gas Market Indicators – March 15, 2023
- Winter Storm Sage to impact the Northeast; bringing wind, rain, and colder temperatures.
- The EIA’s March edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook anticipates an increase in U.S. natural gas exports over the next two years.
- Freeport LNG received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to restart the final train of the plant’s three train liquefaction system.
Winter Storm Sage has brought cold temperatures, snow, and wind across the U.S. The storm impacted the Western U.S. last week before traveling across the mid-west and into the northeast. Sage has already produced white-out conditions to several areas of the country. The Weather Channel expects the storm to dissipate towards the end of the week. For the week ending March 11, the weather in the U.S. was 2.5 percent warmer than last year and 3.7 percent warmer than normal. All regions experienced warmer temperatures than normal except the Mountain and Pacific regions.
The EIA reported a 6.1 Bcf per day decrease in total U.S. consumption from 91.2 Bcf to 85.1 Bcf for the week ending March 8. The decrease in consumption was primarily driven by a week-over-week decrease of 4.6 bcf per day in the residential and commercial sectors from 35.9 Bcf per day to 31 Bcf per day. However, the second full week of March has seen a demand uptick in the residential and commercial sectors. As Winter Storm Sage makes its way across the northeast, demand is expected to remain elevated across the northeast through the week ending March 17.
The EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reported dry gas production fell only marginally from 100.8 Bcf per day to 100.7 Bcf per day for the week ending March 8. Although the week-over-week decrease in dry gas production is slight, dry gas production has increased by 5.4 percent year-over-year for the same time period. Additionally, the latest EIA drilling productivity report projects a year-over-year increase in production in every reporting region for April 2023.
Pipeline Imports and Exports
The Energy Information Administration reported a 0.7 Bcf per day week-over-week decrease in imports from Canada from 5.0 Bcf per day to 4.3 Bcf per day for the week ending March 8. Exports to Mexico remained unchanged week-over-week for a consistent 5.4 bcf per day. Similarly, imports from Canada are down 0.5 Bcf per day year-over-year, and exports to Mexico are down 0.1 Bcf per day year-over-year.
The EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reports that overall natural gas deliveries to LNG export terminals increased 0.6 Bcf per day week-over-week from 13.2 Bcf per day to 13.8 Bcf per day for the week ending March 8. Deliveries to East Coast export terminals remained relatively unchanged while natural gas deliveries to terminals in South Louisiana and South Texas both increased. Sourcing Bloomberg, EIA reported twenty-five LNG vessels with a combined carrying capacity of 92 Bcf departed the U.S. between March 2 and March 8. Freeport LNG released a statement reporting the facility received regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on March 8 to restart train 1. This restart represents the final train of Freeport LNG’s three-train liquefication facility to receive regulatory restart approval. The restart of trains one and two have produced roughly 1.5 Bcf per day, and additional changes to production and feedgas flows are anticipated as the last train comes back online. The EIA’s March edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook released on March 7 anticipates exports of LNG will continue to drive growth in U.S. natural gas exports over the next two years. The EIA forecasts exports will average 12.1 Bcf per day in 2023, a 1.5 Bcf per day in exports compared to 2022. Continued high global demand for U.S. LNG is driven by east Asian markets and Europe’s need to substitute pipeline gas from Russia. The EIA reported international natural gas futures prices decreased to their lowest levels since July 2021 for the week ending March 8. Weekly average prompt-month futures at the TTF dropped $1.44 to a weekly average of $13.66 per MMBtu; representing a $47.42 decrease in the prompt-month future price since March 2022.
Working Gas in Underground Storage
The EIA’s Natural Gas Storage Dashboard weekly update reported a net withdrawal of 84 Bcf for the week ending March 9, resulting in total working natural gas in underground storage for the lower 48 of 2,030 Bcf. The net withdrawal of 84 Bcf is 17 Bcf less than the five year average, and 42 Bcf less than the same time last year. The consistent lower withdrawals throughout this withdrawal season have pushed the total working natural gas stocks to be 21% higher than the five-year average and 32% higher than the same time last year. Additionally, the EIA’s March 9th release of the Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts storage levels will be in excess of 1.9 trillion cubic feet at the conclusion of withdrawal season, 23% higher than the five-year average and 27% more than the January STEO forecast.
The total U.S. rig count decreased by a net total of three rigs for a total of 746 rigs as of March 10. Two of the decommissioned rigs were oil-directed while one rig was gas-directed, reducing total rigs from 749 to 746. The total rig count is still up 83 rigs year-over-year.
The EIA’s Weekly Storage Dashboard update continues to forecast natural gas prices to remain below $4.00 per MMBtu until late December of 2023. The EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reported that regional spot prices generally fell for the report week ending March 8, the week-over-week drop in prices ranging from $0.02 per MMBtu in New York to $3.83 per MMBtu in Wyoming. Spot prices largely reflected the change in weather as Winter Storm Sage makes its across the country. As of March 14, spot prices at the Algonquin Citygate rose by 52% to around $4.20. On March 15, prompt-month futures out of the Henry Hub were trading around $2.57 per MMBtu.
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