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U.S. natural gas futures fell about 5% to a near two-week low with the decline in other energy futures on Monday as the shutdown of the Freeport liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant last week cut U.S. demand for gas, leaving more of the fuel available to refill low stockpiles.

 

U.S. natgas down 7%; Freeport LNG outage leaves more fuel for storage- oil and gas 360

Source: Reuters

That gas price decline came even though power demand in Texas hit an all-time high on Sunday and will likely break that record on Monday as economic growth boosts usage and homes and businesses keep air conditioners cranked up to escape a lingering heatwave.

Freeport shut on June 8 after a pipe burst, according to energy research firm IIR Energy and others. Freeport LNG, the plant owner, has said that the plant would be down for at least three weeks of maintenance.

Analysts projected that the Freeport shutdown would reduce the amount of gas available to the rest of the world, especially in Europe where most U.S. LNG has gone in recent months as countries look to wean themselves off Russian supplies after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

But leaving more gas in the United States should give utilities a chance to rebuild extremely low U.S. stockpiles more quickly. Freeport, the second-biggest U.S. LNG export plant, consumes about 2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas, so a three-week shutdown would result in about 42 billion cubic feet (bcf) more gas being available to the U.S. market.

U.S. storage was currently about 15%, or 340 bcf, below normal levels for this time of year, its lowest since April 2019. EIA/GASNGAS/POLL

Front-month gas futures NGc1 for July delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) fell 40.9 cents, or 4.6%, to $8.441 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 GMT), their lowest since May 31.

Oil futures CLc1 fell about 2% as a flare-up in COVID-19 cases in Beijing and worries about more interest rate hikes raised concern about demand. O/R

With the U.S. Federal Reserve expected to keep raising interest rates in coming months to reduce inflation, open interest in NYMEX futures NG-TOT fell to its lowest since September 2016 for a second day in a row on Friday as investors cut back on risky assets like commodities.

U.S. gas futures were up about 126% so far this year as much higher prices in Europe and Asia keep demand for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports strong, especially since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine stoked fears Moscow might cut gas supplies to Europe.

Gas was trading around $25 per mmBtu in Europe TRNLTTFMc1 and $23 in Asia JKMc1NG/EU

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U.S. futures lag far behind global prices because the United States is the world’s top producer, with all the gas it needs for domestic use, while capacity constraints inhibit additional LNG exports.

Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states slid to 95.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in June from 95.1 bcfd in May. That compares with a monthly record of 96.1 bcfd in December 2021.

With hotter weather coming, Refinitiv projected average U.S. gas demand, including exports, would rise from 92.2 bcfd this week to 92.9 bcfd next week. The forecast for this week was lower than Refinitiv’s outlook on Friday.

The average amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants fell to 11.9 bcfd so far in June from 12.5 bcfd in May, according to data from Refinitiv. That compares with a monthly record of 12.9 bcfd in March. The seven big U.S. export plants can turn about 13.6 bcfd of gas into LNG.


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