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Copper Tip Energy Services
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Copper Tip Energy

U.S. natgas falls 5% on lower demand forecast, contract expiry

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U.S. natural gas futures fell more than 5% on Monday, weighed down by forecasts for lower demand over the next two weeks than previously expected, near record output and ahead of the expiry of the front-month December contract.

On its last day as the front-month, gas futures for December delivery on the NYMEX were down 38.7 cents, or 5.5%, to $6.637 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 10:05 a.m. ET (1505 GMT). However, the contract posted its second straight weekly gain of over 11% last week.

“We’ve got some weather model moderation in the 6-10 day period, meaning that we lost some heating degree days… there’s going to be a fair amount of volatility here between the weather model forecast, the post trading from the holiday season and then, of course, for contract expiration,” said Robert DiDona of Energy Ventures Analysis.

Data provider Refinitiv forecasted 404 heating degree days (HDDs) over the next two weeks in the Lower 48 U.S. states. The normal is 362 HDDs for this time of year. HDDs, which are used to estimate demand to heat homes and businesses, measure the number of degrees a day’s average temperature is below 65 Fahrenheit (18 Celsius).

Refinitiv projected that average U.S. gas demand, including exports, would rise from 116 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) this week to 127.8 bcfd next week. The forecasts were lower than Refinitiv’s outlook on Friday.

Refinitiv said that average gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states rose to 99.6 bcfd so far in November from a record 99.4 bcfd in October.

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“This market has relinquished most of last week’s strong gains largely on negative spillover from the renewed plunge in oil prices,” energy consulting firm Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note.

Oil prices fell close to their lowest this year on Monday as street protests against strict COVID-19 curbs in China, the world’s biggest crude importer, stoked concern over the outlook for fuel demand.

In addition, the market had questions about whether Freeport LNG will be able to restart its liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Texas in mid-December as planned.

That matters because once the 2.1-billion-cubic-feet-per-day (bcfd) plant restarts it will consume U.S. gas to turn it into LNG for export, boosting demand for gas at the same time that cold winter weather will boost heating demand.

Meanwhile, British gas contracts for short-term delivery jumped on Monday morning on rising demand amid cold weather and low wind power generation, while Dutch contracts eased on steady supplies.

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