U.S. natural gas futures edged lower on Thursday as market participants awaited cues from a federal report expected to show a bigger-than-usual storage draw last week.
Analysts forecast U.S. utilities pulled 21 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas from storage last week. That compares with a 24 bcf withdrawal during the same week a year ago and a five-year (2018-2022) average of 0 bcf.
“There is nothing much happening in the market right now. There is just some profit-taking ahead of the storage report,” said Robert DiDona of Energy Ventures Analysis.
“We favor price consolidation at least for the next week or two. If there is a surprise or a big shift in the weather models, then we will see a price break.”
Front-month gas futures for May delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) fell 3.3 cents, or 1.5%, to $2.11 per million British thermal units at 09:45 ET.
Freeport LNG’s export plant, which shut in June 2022 after a fire, was on track to pull in about 2.24 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas on Thursday, slightly down from 2.26 bcfd on Wednesday, according to data provider Refinitiv.
That was still above the 2.1 bcfd of gas Freeport LNG can turn into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. LNG plants can take in more gas than they can turn into LNG because they use some of the fuel to power equipment used to produce LNG.
Shell said it expects higher LN) output in the first quarter after outages at its Australian plants last year as well as stable earnings from LNG trading.