Despite a larger-than-expected stock increase, U.S. natural gas prices rose on Thursday to a two-week high on expectations of strong demand in the coming days and lower production.
As of 11:40 a.m. ET on Thursday, the front-month natural gas futures at the Henry Hub were trading up by 2.61% at $8.398 per million British thermal units (MMBtu).
Working gas in storage was 2,501 Bcf as of August 5, a net increase of 44 Bcf from the previous week, the EIA estimated in its Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report on Thursday. The net increase last week exceeded expectations of a 39-bcf build gas stocks build in a Reuters poll among analysts.
More natural gas has been available domestically in the U.S. since the outage at the Freeport LNG export terminal in early June, which has allowed more gas to be injected into storage than previously expected.
Freeport LNG has reportedly retracted its force majeure, according to anonymous sources who shared the information with Reuters, leaving traders to source product on the spot market at significant losses. The force majeure would have given traders cover in defaulting on their current agreements to supply end users with product. Instead, the retraction has caused traders to scurry to the spot market to fulfill customer orders-at much higher prices that resulted in collective losses of about $8 billion, the trading sources suggested.
Natural gas stocks as of August 5 were 268 Bcf less than this time last year and 338 Bcf below the five-year average of 2,839 Bcf. Total working gas is within the five-year historical range, the EIA said.
Domestic demand for natural gas is expected to be high over the coming days, with most of the U.S. expected to be under hot high pressure with highs of upper 80s to 100s, according to NatGasWeather.com. Cooler temperatures are expected across the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and East w with showers, but overall, national demand is expected at moderate to high between August 11 and 17, per NatGasWeather.com forecasts.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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