Natural Gas Market Indicators – September 20, 2023
- Hurricane Lee was downgraded as it made landfall in the Northeastern U.S. as a post-tropical cyclone. Hurricane Nigel develops in the Central Atlantic.
- The EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook increased their forecasted demand for the remainder of September, and sees higher production in 2024.
- The U.S. exported more LNG than any other country in the first half of 2023, in addition to exporting more natural gas in the first six months of 2023 than in any other six-month period.
- The California Public Utilities Commission approved an expansion of gas storage in Aliso Canyon.
Hurricane Lee was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone before making landfall in Maine on Saturday afternoon, bringing strong wind and rain to the region. Cooler-than-normal temperatures are expected in the Northeast following the post-tropical cyclone, while warmer-than-normal temperatures remain in the Midwest. The National Centers for Environmental Information, part of NOAA, reported the average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in August was 74.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the historic average temperature for August. This most recent August ranked the ninth warmest August in the 129-year record, while Louisiana had the warmest meteorological summer on record. For the week ending September 16, the weather in the U.S. was roughly five percent warmer than last year and roughly three percent warmer than normal. For August, temperatures in the U.S. were roughly ten percent warmer than normal.
Natural gas demand has been reflective of the high temperatures across the U.S. However, the second week of September has seen slight declines in regional demand as cooler temperatures begin to settle over several regions. Total U.S. consumption remained unchanged week-over-week with 72.3 Bcf per day for the report week ending September 13. Although total consumption remained stable week-over-week, there were slight fluctuations by sector. Demand in the power generation sector dropped 0.1 Bcf per day from 42.1 to 42 Bcf per day, while demand in the industrial sector increased 0.2 Bcf per day from 21.6 to 21.8 Bcf per day. Demand in the residential and commercial sector also decreased only marginally, dropping from 8.6 to 8.5 Bcf per day for the week ending September 13. The September edition of the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook increased the natural gas consumption forecast to 80.5 Bcf per day for September, a five percent increase year-over-year and an anticipated record for September consumption. The EIA anticipates this boost due to the increased reliance on natural gas to fuel power generation due to strong air-conditioning demand throughout the U.S. and a reduction in generation from coal-fired power plants.
The EIA reported a slight decline in dry gas production week-over-week, supply falling 0.3 Bcf per day from 102.2 to 101.9 Bcf per day for the week ending September 13.
Pipeline Imports and Exports
According to the EIA’s Natural Gas Weekly Update, imports from Canada dropped 0.2 Bcf per day week-over-week from 5.6 Bcf per day to 5.4 Bcf while exports to Mexico also dropped 0.1 Bcf per day from 6.6 to 6.5 for the week ending September 13.
The September 12 edition of Today in Energy reports the U.S. exported more LNG than any other country in the first half of 2023. U.S. LNG exports averaged roughly 11.6 Bcf per day during the first half of 2023, 0.5 Bcf per day more than the same time last year. The increase in exports is attributed to Freeport LNG’s return to service and the continued strong demand for LNG in Europe. Over the first six months of 2023, the U.S. exported 12.5 Bcf per day of LNG, more than in any previous six-month period, and 1.3 Bcf (11 percent) more than in the first six months of 2022. International LNG prompt-month futures increased at both JKM in East Asia and TTF in the Netherlands for the report week ending September 13. Weekly average prompt-month futures for LNG cargoes in East Asia increased $0.10 from $13.26 to a weekly average of $13.36 per MMBtu, while Dutch-TTF futures increased $0.23 to a weekly average of $10.98 per MMBtu for the week ending September 13.
Working Gas in Underground Storage
The EIA’s Natural Gas Storage Dashboard reported a 57 Bcf storage build to 3,205 Bcf of working gas inventories for the week ending September 8. Working gas inventories are seven percent higher than the five-year average and 16 percent higher year-over-year. As reported by Politico, The California Public Utilities Commission voted to expand natural gas storage at Aliso Canyon. This expansion is the result of a request from a SoCalGas proposal to store roughly 69 Bcf in total at the facility “in an effort to moderate price spikes like those that shocked some customers during the cold spell last winter.” The EIA expounds on the topic further, explaining that the 27.4 Bcf increase from 41.2 to 68.6 would help moderate any potential price increase and enhance reliability for the upcoming winter heating season.
The rig count in the U.S. increased week-over-week, as reported by Baker Hughes, with a total of 641 rigs for the report week ending September 15. The week-over-week increase results from adding two oil-directed rigs and eight gas-directed rigs.
Looking ahead on the futures strip, futures rise above $3.00 per MMBtu for December 2023 contracts and remain in the $3.00 range throughout 2024. Still, October futures are trading below $2.75 per MMBtu. Spot prices vary throughout the U.S. depending on region, the highest being Northern CA, where prices hit $3.74 per MMBtu, while the lowest prices are located near New York City at around $1.15 per MMBtu.
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