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Forecasts for milder weather and lower heating demand have seen natural gas prices plummeting by over 12% on Monday, after a strong rally on Friday to five-week high.
At 10:07 a.m. EST on Monday, front-month gas futures for April delivery were down 12.30% to $2.639 per million British thermal units, the biggest drop since January 30th, when nat gas prices shed 14%.
The large drop comes only days after Freeport LNG boosted exports at its Texas plant after reopening last month following a shutdown that had lasted for eight months. At full capacity, Freeport can pump out 2.1 bcfd of LNG from natural gas. On Monday, according to Reuters citing Refinitiv data, Freeport was poised to take in some 1.7 billion cubic feet of gas per day. So far in March, total intake of feed gas to U.S. LNG export plants rose from 12.8 bcfd to 13.7 bcfd, breaking last year’s monthly record of 12.9 bcfd, according to Reuters.
While numbers like that contributed to a one-month high last Monday and a 9% rally on Friday, by Monday, weather forecasts had taken over fundamentals. There have been some patches of extreme weather that led to a reduction in gas output in December and February; however, cold weather has not been a sustained pattern. The forecast now is for less severe temperatures than those anticipated on Friday, when prices rallied.
While U.S. natural gas demand and demand for LNG exports is expected to rise this week, the rise is now smaller than that predicted last week by Refinitiv.
At the same time, stockpiles of natural gas reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) last Thursday show they are currently 19% higher than their five-year average, with that figure expected to increase further with this week’s inventory report.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com