U.S. natural gas futures slipped to a fresh two-week low on Monday as output slowly increases despite forecasts for hotter weather and higher cooling demand over the next two weeks than previously expected.
Prices remained weak even though pipeline exports to Mexico are on track to hit a record high this month.
Front-month gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 2.5 cents, or 1.5%, to $1.693 per million British thermal units at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT). If the contract closes at its current level, it would be the lowest settle since July 1.
Looking ahead, speculators last week boosted their long positions on the NYMEX to their highest since December 2018 on hopes energy demand will rise as the economy rebounds later this year after state governments lift coronavirus-linked lockdowns.
Refinitiv said production in the Lower 48 U.S. states averaged 88.4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in July, up from a 20-month low of 87.0 bcfd in June but still well below the all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November. Traders noted output was rising as EQT Corp boosted production in Appalachia.
As consumers crank up their air conditioners, Refinitiv forecast U.S. demand, including exports, will rise from 92.5 bcfd this week to 94.1 bcfd next week. That is higher than Refinitiv’s outlook on Friday.
Pipeline gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants averaged 3.3 bcfd (34% utilization) so far in July, down from a 20-month low of 4.1 bcfd in June and a record 8.7 bcfd in February. Utilization was about 90% in 2019. Flows to Freeport in Texas held at zero for a 14th straight day for the first time since July 2019 when the first of its three liquefaction trains was in test mode.