Natural Gas – Short-Term Energy Outlook

Onyx Power and Gas Consulting continues with its weekly series providing the Short-Term Energy Outlook as of June 12, 2018.  This series of news articles should provide a complete insight on the current conditions of the energy…enjoy, check out archives and come back each week for additional information on how all sorts of energy sources impact our daily lives.

Natural Gas

Prices: The front-month natural gas futures contract for delivery at the Henry Hub settled at $2.93/million British thermal units (MMBtu) on June 7, an increase of 13 cents/MMBtu from May 1 (Figure 8). This year, the coldest April in the past 21 years resulted in a delayed start to the summer injection season. The 2018 summer injection season did not start until April 27, four weeks later than in 2017. Working natural gas stocks as of June 1 were 1,817 billion cubic feet (Bcf), 31% lower than the year-ago level and 22% lower than the five-year (2013–17) average for that time of year. The large working natural gas inventory deficit and the late start to the storage injection season contributed to higher Henry Hub prices despite record production growth. EIA estimates that dry natural gas production in May reached 81.3 Bcf per day, 13% higher than in May 2017. EIA projects dry natural gas production to increase by 10% in 2018 and by 3% in 2019. The Henry Hub natural gas spot price averaged $2.80/MMBtu in May, the same price as in April.

Figure 8: Historical ULSD front-month futures price and crack spread

The difference between the Henry Hub and Tennessee Zone 4 (TZ4) spot prices, which reflect prices in northeast Pennsylvania, narrowed in November 2017 but began widening again in April 2018, falling below -$2/MMBtu before settling at -$1.23/MMBtu on June 4 (Figure 9). The TZ4 to Henry Hub spot price spread tends to narrow during winter months when regional demand is higher and to widen during the summer season when demand is lower. The spread also may be widening because pipeline takeaway capacity is constrained in northeast Pennsylvania. The Atlantic Sunrise project, which will connect producing regions in northeastern Pennsylvania to markets in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and U.S. Southeast, is under construction with an expected start date of mid-2018. Once that project is completed, the TZ4 to Henry Hub spot price spread is likely to narrow.

Figure 9: Historical front-month U.S. natural gas prices

The professional consultants at Onyx Power & Gas Consulting are always ahead of the current issues that may affect energy consumption and pricing. Now is the time to partner with an Onyx professional consultant to discuss energy management and secure energy prices based on today’s stable pricing. Volatility in the energy markets makes it too precarious to take chances. Partner with Onyx Power & Gas in Making Energy Make a Difference!

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