October 9, 2020 Reuters
U.S. natural gas futures were on track to reach their highest close since November on Friday as production fell to its lowest in over two years after Gulf Coast energy firms shut wells ahead of Hurricane Delta and on forecasts for colder weather and higher demand in mid October.
That price increase came despite a drop in gas flows to liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants as operators either shut or reduced their Louisiana facilities before Delta makes landfall.
Delta was expected to slam into Southwest Louisiana near the Cameron LNG export plant later Friday.
Front-month gas futures rose 11.3 cents, or 4.3%, to $2.740 per million British thermal units at 8:54 a.m. EDT (1254 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since November.
After rising 19% over the past two weeks, the front-month was up 12% so far this week.
Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 U.S. states would drop from a 26-month low of 84.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) earlier this week to a preliminary 83.1 bcfd on Friday as Gulf Coast producers shut wells.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said energy firms shut 1.7 bcfd, or 62%, of offshore Gulf of Mexico gas production.
In Louisiana, meanwhile, Cameron LNG shut its LNG export plant on Thursday, while Cheniere Energy Inc reduced gas flows to its Sabine Pass facility from a five-month high of 4.0 bcfd earlier in the week to a preliminary 2.1 bcfd on Friday. Cheniere said it planned to keep Sabine operating with a small “ride-out” crew.
Refinitiv projected demand would slip from 87.0 bcfd this week to 85.3 bcfd next week before jumping to 93.2 bcfd in two weeks when the weather turns colder and with LNG plants in Louisiana and Cove Point in Maryland expected to return.