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After plunging to a 5-week-low on Tuesday, natural gas prices in the U.S. have ramped up again, gaining 4% on Wednesday on excessive temperatures expected to last through next week.
By 3:05 p.m CT, Henry Hub natural gas prices were at $7.514, up 4.52%, up over 109% year-to-date.
Demand for natural gas to power air-conditioners is expected to rise significantly as one-third of the United States is witnessing extreme heat warnings. Over the next few days, heat indexes are expected to break records, putting additional pressure on electricity providers.
Heat waves are also spreading across Europe, where natural gas prices surged more than 20% on Wednesday. Gas prices in Europe continue to spike not only on temperature but on Russia’s move this week to curb gas supplies via Nord Stream.
On Tuesday, Gazprom said it would cut gas flows to Germany via Nord Stream by 40%, citing equipment repairs, prompting German officials to accuse Moscow of further weaponizing natural gas.
On Wednesday, Gazprom said it had reduced the flow of gas to Italy, as well.
In the United States, Tuesday saw natural gas prices plunge on news of a 90-day shutdown of the Freeport, Texas, LNG export terminal following an explosion last week.
″[C]ompletion of all necessary repairs and a return to full plant operations is not expected until late 2022,” the company said Tuesday in a statement.
Freeport’s delayed restart takes approximately 2% of demand off the market, suggesting potential oversupply of natural gas.
As of Wednesday, potential oversupply, ahead of the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) release of natural gas inventory data on Thursday, was being counterbalanced by a heat wave that suggests an uptick in demand.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com