Natural Gas Market Indicators – March 31, 2023
- The EIA released The Annual Energy Outlook for 2023 on March 16 which anticipates the U.S. to remain a net exporter of petroleum products and natural gas through 2050.
- On March 28 the Shanghai exchange settled an LNG trade with the United Arab Emirates in yuan for the first time ever as China continues its push to settle oil and gas trading in yuan.
- EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook reported natural gas consumption in both January and February reached five-year lows. According to data analyzed by S&P Global, working natural gas in underground storage has reached lows not seen since 2010.
NOAA’s 16-day forecast predicts that the first week of April will see colder temperatures in the West and the upper Mid-West, and warmer temperatures in the East. The pattern will be reversed over the second week of April, when colder temperatures will push East and a warm front settles over the West. For the week ending March 25, weather across the U.S. was roughly 47 percent colder than last year and 11 percent colder than normal. All regions experienced colder temperatures than normal except New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
The EIA reported a 3.9 Bcf per day decrease in total U.S. consumption from 89.9 Bcf per day to 85.9 Bcf per day for the week ending March 22. The decrease in consumption was largely driven by a week-over-week decrease in consumption from the power generation, residential, and commercial sectors. Based on data from the winter Short-Term Energy Outlook reports, the EIA estimated that natural gas consumption in the U.S. reached five-year lows in January and February of 2023. Natural gas consumption in January was roughly ten percent lower year-over-year, and five percent lower than the five-year average. Similarly, consumption in February was six percent lower year-over-year, and three percent lower than the five-year average. The decline in consumption was primarily driven by lower consumption in the residential and commercial sectors.
The EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reported dry gas production fell slightly from 101.0 Bcf per day to 100.9 Bcf per day for the week ending March 22. However, dry gas production remains up 5.9 Bcf per day year-over-year.
Pipeline Imports and Exports
The EIA reported that imports from Canada remained unchanged week-over-week at 4.7 Bcf per day for the week ending March 22, while exports to Mexico decreased marginally from 5.4 Bcf per day to 5.2 Bcf per day for the same period.
The EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reports that overall natural gas deliveries to LNG export terminals decreased 0.2 Bcf per day week-over-week from 13.2 Bcf per day to 13 Bcf per day for the week ending March 22. Natural gas deliveries to East Coast export terminals remained unchanged while deliveries to export terminals in South Louisiana decreased 0.3 Bcf per day from 8.7 Bcf per day to 8.4 Bcf per day, and deliveries to South Texas increased only marginally from 3.3 Bcf per day to 3.4 Bcf per day. According to Bloomberg, as reported by EIA, twenty-seven LNG vessels with a combined carrying capacity of 100 Bcf departed the U.S. between March 16 and March 22. The EIA Annual Energy Outlook for 2023 forecasts LNG exports will drive production while domestic consumption will remain stable. The forecasted exports remain consistent across all reference cases until 2050. EIA reports that weekly average prompt-month futures for LNG cargoes in East Asia fell $0.98 to a weekly average of $13.24 per MMBtu for the week ending March 22. Prompt-month futures at TTF also fell, bringing prices to $12.14 per MMBtu. Prices in East Asia and the TTF have dropped $21.59 and $20.67 per MMBtu respectively year-over-year. In other LNG news, On March 28 the Shanghai exchange settled an LNG trade with the United Arab Emirates in yuan for the first time ever as China continues its push to settle oil and gas trading in yuan. At the same time, the European Union continues to seek legal options to stop Russia from purchasing upfront capacity to deliver LNG to Europe. The move is seen as the next step in Europe’s plan to eliminate its dependency on Russian gas.
Working Gas in Underground Storage
The EIA’s Natural Gas Storage Dashboard weekly update reported a net withdrawal of 72 Bcf for the week ending March 17, resulting in total working natural gas in underground storage for the lower 48 of 1,900 Bcf. Working natural gas stocks are twenty-three percent higher than the five-year average and thirty-six percent higher than the same time last year. Although natural gas stocks are above year ago levels and the five-year average, working natural gas stocks in the Pacific region have reached 72 Bcf, a historic low. According to an S&P Global analysis of EIA data, the Pacific region has not seen stocks this low since 2010. The low storage levels have been driven by the sustained cold weather throughout the region.
The U.S. rig count increased by four rigs for a net total of 758 rigs as of March 24. All new rigs were oil-directed. The total rig count is up 88 rigs year-over-year.
The EIA’s Weekly Storage Dashboard update continues to forecast natural gas prices to remain below $4.00 per MMBtu in their twelve-month strip until middle/late December of 2024. The EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reported that spot prices at the Henry Hub fell $0.40 for the report week ending March 22. As of March 31, spot prices out of the Southwest rose roughly 76% from the day prior to around $4.75 per MMBtu. However, prices in the Southwest are still trading well above prices in most other hubs, consistent with the patterns observed since the beginning of the year. On March 31, prompt-month futures out of the Henry Hub were trading below $2.25 per MMBtu.
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