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Natural Gas News: Will Sellers Emerge at $2.686 to $2.867 Resistance?

By:
James Hyerczyk
Published: May 19, 2024, 05:49 GMT+00:00

Key Points:

  • Natural gas futures reach highest levels since February
  • Decline in domestic production drives bullish sentiment
  • Freeport LNG plant’s gas flows hit five-month high
Natural Gas News

In this article:

Futures Surge Amidst Reduced Production and Strong LNG Exports

Natural gas futures posted a stellar performance last week, reaching their highest levels since February. This surge was driven by strong market sentiment suggesting a balancing market and mixed weekly cash prices. Anticipation of summer weather increased demand in various regions, while ongoing or completed pipeline maintenance provided varied support.

Last week, Natural Gas Futures settled at $2.626, up $0.374 or +16.61%.

Weekly Natural Gas

Production Declines and Maintenance

A significant driver of the bullish sentiment in natural gas markets is the decline in domestic production. Leading producers like EQT and Chesapeake Energy have postponed well completions and reduced drilling activities in response to earlier price drops, contributing to an approximate 9% production decrease in 2024. Additionally, the near-full service return of the Freeport LNG plant in Texas has elevated gas flows to LNG export facilities, tightening supply further.

Record High Gas Flows to Freeport LNG

Natural gas flowing to Freeport LNG’s export plant in Texas hit a five-month high, according to LSEG data. This increase followed the return of a liquefaction train after a brief upset. U.S. gas futures at the Henry Hub benchmark have soared by around 59% over the past three weeks, partly due to increased feedgas at Freeport following an outage in late April.

As of Friday, gas flows to the seven major U.S. LNG export plants rose from an average of 11.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in April to 12.7 bcfd in May, with Freeport’s 2.1-bcfd plant contributing significantly.

EIA Report and Inventory Levels

June natural gas prices saw significant gains, supported by a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report showing a smaller-than-expected increase in natural gas inventories. For the week ending May 10, inventories rose by 70 billion cubic feet (bcf), short of the forecasted 76 bcf and the five-year average of 90 bcf. Despite this, total natural gas inventories were still up 17.5% year-on-year and 30.8% above the five-year seasonal average.

Lower-48 states’ dry gas production on Thursday was reported at 98.3 bcf per day, marking a 2.1% year-on-year decline, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Concurrently, gas demand in these states stood at 64.4 bcf per day, a 2.7% decrease from the previous year. LNG exports from U.S. terminals were at 13.2 bcf per day, up 4.0% week-on-week, indicating robust international demand.

Market Forecast

Given the current market conditions—reduced storage increases, lower production, and strong LNG exports—natural gas futures are likely to maintain their upward trend in the short term. However, potential cooler weather could temper this bullish outlook by reducing immediate demand for natural gas. Traders should remain vigilant regarding inventory reports and weather forecasts to navigate this volatile market effectively.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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