U.S. natural gas futures jumped as much as 10.4% on Tuesday to an over three-month high as bone-chilling weather across the United States disrupted pipeline flows and pushed up heating demand.
Front-month gas futures gained 12.1 cents, or 4.2%, to $3.033 per million British thermal units at 12:33 p.m. EST, having earlier hit a peak since Nov. 5 at $3.214 per mmBtu.
In the spot market, next-day power at the ERCOT North hub jumped to an all-time high of $1,489.75 per megawatt hour (MWh).
“The extreme cold that we’ve seen in Texas, in the Midcontinent, has wreaked havoc and not only do you have a situation where demand for natural gas is extremely high, production has been shut in because the pipelines are frozen,” said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
“Long-term, we’re showing a much more bullish underlining market right now.”
The deep freeze forced several big oil refineries to remain offline in Texas, the country’s largest crude-producing state, and disrupted operations of natural gas pipelines. More than 5 million customers were without power in most states, including Texas and New York.
Enbridge Inc. said on Tuesday operations restarted on its crude pipeline from a terminal outside of Chicago to Cushing, Oklahoma, after a power outage.
Enable Gas Transmission said it was taking measures to ensure adequate supply for customers.
“The narrowing in the longstanding supply surplus that has been supporting values of late will not only continue but will be seeing some major acceleration within the next couple of EIA releases beginning with this Thursday,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Illinois, said in a note.
Data provider Refinitiv estimated 425 heating degree days (HDDs) over the next two weeks in the Lower 48 U.S. states, down slightly from Monday’s forecast of 449 HDDs.
The normal is 377 HDDs for this time of year. HDDs measure the number of degrees a day’s average temperature is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). The measure is used to estimate demand to heat homes and businesses.
Refinitiv projected average demand, including exports, would rise to 147.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) this week but slip to 123.2 bcfd next week, while staying above the five-year average of 107.2 bcfd.
Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 U.S. states fell to a more than 2-year low of 76.98 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Monday.29dk2902l