U.S. natural gas futures hit their highest in nearly 14 years tracking a rally in oil prices on the European Union’s plans to phase out Russian imports, with forecasts for hot weather also seen driving up demand for the fuel to cool homes and businesses.
U.S. front-month gas futures rose 45.4 cents, or 5.7%, to $8.408 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) by 9:31 a.m EDT (1331 GMT). Prices earlier hit $8.474 per mmBtu, the highest since August 2008.
The market appears to be interpreting the planned EU sanctions on oil as indicative of an increased possibility of an eventual embargo on Russian gas, advisory firm Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note.
“This week’s upside price acceleration is being driven by recent weather-related production declines and next week’s expected major warmup across the nation’s midsection that appears to be conjuring up images of an early start to a hot summer.”
The world’s largest trading bloc, the EU, has proposed a phased oil embargo on Russia and sanctions on its top bank and broadcasters in its toughest measures yet to punish Moscow for its war in Ukraine.
Russia supplies 40% of EU gas and 26% of its oil imports.
U.S. gas futures have rallied by more than 100% so far this year with much higher prices in Europe keeping demand for U.S. LNG near record highs as several countries try to wean themselves off Russian gas. Gas was trading around $36 per mmBtu in Europe and $24 in Asia.
The U.S. gas market, however, remains mostly shielded from those much higher global prices because the United States is the world’s top gas producer, with all the fuel it needs for domestic use while capacity constraints inhibit exports of more LNG no matter how high global prices rise.
Meanwhile, forecasts from data provider Refinitiv showed temperatures over the next two weeks are estimated to be much hotter than usual with 107 cooling degree days (CDDs) projected compared with a 30-year average of 67 CDDs for the period.
CDDs, used to estimate demand to cool homes and businesses, measure the number of degrees a day’s average temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on Tuesday warned of larger-than-normal demand for power due to extreme hot weather expected in the region over May 6-9.