The benchmark U.S. natural gas prices rose by more than 3% early on Thursday ahead of the weekly EIA gas inventory report, to the highest level in two weeks, amid expectations of higher demand for the fuel next week.
As of 9:05 a.m. ET on Thursday, the front-month futures at the Henry Hub, the U.S. benchmark, were trading 3.20% higher at $7.125 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). Demand for natural gas across the United States is expected to rise in the coming days more than previously expected, according to Reuters estimates.
U.S. natural gas prices were rising early on Thursday despite a forecast of a bigger-than-average gas in storage build expected to be reported by the EIA later today. The steeper-than-average stock build was expected due to milder weather in the past days, halts of two LNG export facilities, and a rise in wind power generation.
Estimates point to the EIA reporting later today a build of 113 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas in storage for the week that ended September 30. While generally in line with the build from the same week of 2021, this would be above the five-year average build in gas in storage stocks of 87 bcf, according to Reuters.
Gas demand has faltered lately due to mild weather and power outages in Florida after Hurricane Ian. Moreover, there has been more gas available domestically in recent days as the Cove Point LNG export facility in Maryland started a three-week annual planned maintenance on October 1.
The Freeport LNG export facility continues to be out until at least early November after a fire in June.
Earlier this week, U.S. natural gas futures dipped by 6% on Monday, extending losses from Friday, as market participants fretted over receding domestic demand prospects, rising production, and possible disruption for American LNG exports.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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