Into The Vortex – Natural Gas Storage Builds Larger Than Expected 82 Bcf on Freeport LNG Shut Down

The EIA reported a higher-than-expected build of 82 Bcf of working gas in storage last week. Natural gas futures sold off sharply off the report adding to the weakness since the Freeport LNG explosion, futures broke the support around $6 Btu as attention turns to heat and Hurricanes. Germany continues to be at the epicenter of Russian gas bans, LNG is capped by how much you can ship, hence the Freeport impact.

The needs to assess to clarify the implications of a potentially prolonged outage at the Freeport liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. This implies gas will flow to domestic consumption or into storage.

LNG feed gas demand fell to a four-month low under 10.4 Bcf/d in the latest estimates last Wednesday show. Prior to the Freeport explosion, with the global energy crisis LNG exports volumes were over 13Bcf, a two-month high last week. That put exports near the 14 Bcf-plus record.

Freeport LNG Explosion

Europe is moving aggressively to wean itself off Russian natural gas supplies with U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas expected to remain strong for some time. Meanwhile a tightening backdrop in the natural gas market, unrelenting export demand highlighted by Germany’s dependance on Russian supplies and its impact on domestic supplies futures continue to be elevated with a lack of sustained production growth fueling concerns about adequate supplies ahead of summer, let alone next winter.

Into The Vortex Contents

Click on the links below to navigate to the relevant section.

  1. EIA Natural Gas Storage Forecast and Analysis
  2. Natural Gas Quick Summary
  3. Rig Watch
  4. Weather
  5. LNG and Export Watch
  6. Natural Gas Import Watch
  7. Natural Gas Demand Watch
  8. Nuke Watch
  9. Natural Gas Futures Technical Analysis
  10. Option Volatility and Gamma
  11. DCOT Report

EIA Weekly Storage Report

  • Report Date: 6/23/2022 Via TradersCommunity.com
  • Release Time: Thursday 6/30/2022 10:30 a.m. ET
  • Market Expectations
  • Actual +82 Bcf Prior +74 Bcf
  • Consensus Forecast +70 Bcf
  • Cons. Range +62 Bcf to +73 Bcf
  • Last Year: +73 Bcf
  • 5 Year Average: +73 Bcf

Looking ahead to the next few EIA storage reports we will have eyes on salt storage to see if the lost LNG feed gas demand from Freeport’s outage head there. Basically, it’s power demand increases or salt injections closer to peak hurricane season. Bespoke Weather Services said unless Freeport is out more than six weeks, the market may have issues with storage.

  • Wall Street Journal’s survey of analysts injections of
  • Bloomberg’s poll median injection of
  • Reuters’s poll estimates injections of

With “healthy corrections’ not withstanding we have seen mostly steady gains in the natural gas market since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine one month ago. Benchmark Henry Hub prices are well above the $8.000/MMBtu mark for May, traditionally a month in which prices sell off as temperatures warm. In addition to the Ukraine factor weather also has been supportive of prices as models continue to reflect periods of brisk temperatures that could keep demand elevated longer into the spring season.

US Natural Gas Storage Stage

Summary

Working gas in storage was 2,169 Bcf as of Friday, June 17, 2022, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 74 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 305 Bcf less than last year at this time and 331 Bcf below the five-year average of 2,500 Bcf. At 2,169 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range.

Broken down by region

  • South Central region +12 Bcf increase +16 Bcf in nonsalt facilities and -6 Bcf in salts
  • Midwest +29 Bcf decrease
  • East +31 Bcf decrease
  • Mountain +6 Bcf increase
  • Pacific +4 Bcf increase

Current Storage Level vs. Last Year; 5-Yr

  • Current Storage Level: 2251 Bcf
  • Storage 2020/Same Week: 2547 Bcf
  • 5Yr Avg/Same Week: 2,573 Bcf
EIA Storage Report
us natgasl locations

via Brynne Kelly @BrynneKKelly


Global Natural Gas Quick Overview


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Via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen

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Natural Gas Market Price Influence Factors

Bearish Factors Include

  • Economic damage and reduced natural gas demand caused by the Covid pandemic,
  • Warm U.S. winter that resulted in weak demand for natural gas for heating.
  • Over long spec positions
  • Freeport LNG Outage
  • Expectations that the high level of oil prices would increase shale drilling and natural gas extraction as a by-product

Bullish Factors Include

  • Record foreign demand for U.S. nat-gas as flows to U.S LNG export terminals on April 18 rose to a record 11.921 bcf (data from 2014) and after U.S. LNG exporters loaded a record 81 cargoes in November, breaking the previous record of 75 set January of 2020, (This was before the Russian invasion of Ukraine – which has led to even greater demand for US LNG)
  • The lower level of oil prices and ESG politics reduced shale drilling and natural gas extraction as a by-product
  • Tighter U.S. natural gas supplies that are down -14.8% y/y and -2.6% below their 5-year average.
  • High power burns
  • Perception that gas supply and demand are more inelastic than ever before.
  • Over short spec positions

Rig Watch 

Baker Hughes active rigs total in the U.S. onshore and Gulf of Mexico (GOM)

  • US Baker Hughes Rig Count 01-Jul: 750 (prev 753)
  • – Rotary Gas Rigs: 153 (prev 157)
  • – Rotary Oil Rigs: 595 (est 599; prev 594)

For May the oil rig count rose for a record 21 months in a row, while the gas rig count was up for a ninth month in a row, the most since May 2017.

US Oil Rigs w/w changes by key shale basins

  • Permian unchanged at 348
  • Eagle Ford -2 to 60
  • Williston unchanged at 37
  • Cana Woodford -5 to 27
  • DJ Niobrara unchanged at 16

Canada Rigs

  • Canada averaged 175 active drilling rigs this week according to data from the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors. Of those rigs, 29% are drilling for natural gas, 52% are drilling for oil, 2% for other (helium, hydrogen, geothermal, or potash), and 17% are moving.
  • Drilling activity by province is 70% in Alberta, 19% in Saskatchewan, 3% in BC, and 8% elsewhere. Precision Drilling holds the majority of the Canadian market share with 26%, Ensign Drilling with 23%, Savanna Drilling with 11%, Akita Drilling with 5%, Bonanza Drilling with 5%, Horizon Drilling with 5% and Stampede Drilling with 5%. via Camtrader

Talking About The Weather

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico Live Weather Report

The NHC predicts up to 21 named storms this hurricane season, up from the annual average of 14. Six to 10 of these storms could evolve into hurricanes.

Paths of Recent Gulf Hurricanes

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European Energy Crisis

The energy crisis pounding the world with unheard of prices was impacting the domestic pricing. In Europe we saw up near record highs again. However European natural gas prices slumped to the lowest since start of the war in Ukraine on April 14. Stephen Stapczynski @SStapczynski cited a number of factors:

  • Mild weather hitting demand
  • Easter holiday market
  • Russia/Norway supply slated to rebound
  • Putin remains silent on possible halt to supplies

The EU also is considering requiring natural gas storage facilities to be filled at least 80% capacity for next winter. Given that European supplies are below historic averages coming out of winter, this would almost certainly keep demand for U.S. LNG elevated through 2022.

Europe’s dependence on Russia’s gas in one map via @michaeltanchum

Daily Europe natural gas inventory by year.

Daily Europe NG inventory by year. Europe NG storage is at 57.6% of capacity. That is -3.0% vs 5yr avg.


La Nina

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U.S. Climate Prediction Center said Thursday there is a 53% chance that La Nina conditions could persist through the summer and a 45% chance of those conditions carrying into next fall.  

This raises the likelihood of Atlantic hurricanes, which could disrupt natural gas operations on the Gulf Coast late in the summer and early fall. La Nina conditions tend to allow more tropical systems to strengthen into hurricanes, the forecaster said. 

The phenomenon begins when the atmosphere reacts to a cooler patch of water over the Pacific Ocean.

Technical Analysis via KnovaWave 

Henry Hub Natural Gas Futures Weekly Chart Outlook via @KnovaWave

Daily: US Natural Gas has continued higher after it completed 3 waves correcting the daily 8/8 spit correction to -2/8. Two clear alternatives, we are correcting the highs 5 or that was a 3 and we go higher. Resistance is Tenkan +4/8 Support Kijun.

The Cloud top broke Kijun and Tenkan with a kiss of life. Meaning that 3 was either an a i or iv– impulse in a nutshell. Prior to this move the adjunct failure of the 50dma and Tenkan opened up the retest of 3.80-3.60 last time which fueled this week’s move higher. From there we fell sharply to the Kijun, A completion of 4 (bear) or (i) of 5 (bull) which gave this move sustenance

Notice the fractals of the move after completing the C of 4 bullish scenario played out the consolidation phase since it completed its IV (Bull Case) last year since then a series of 3 waves. For the bulls all this needs to hold for the highs to be a (iii) looking at possibilities we have the 161.8% at 7.026 if we get ‘silly’ 50dma support.

Like the larger wave on the way up it accelerated through previous highs (flat topped triangle energy) and over the resistance at 8/8 and new highs. We successfully tested that break in a pennant ABC. Previous highs (flat topped triangle energy) and 8/8 and new highs underscore the structure that fed the move and is key longer term. 

Weekly:  Notably a sharp reversal off the previous high, like the previous impulsive spikes. We saw a clean break of the Kijun to close back over near highs. From there that retested the Tenkan in over a $1.50 daily fall and $1.00 regrab. This move was fueled by a fractal of the classic double top playing out after a spit of the weekly Kijun was sent back off Tenkan only to reverse all the way to spit the 50wma for the energy needed. Resistance is Previous highs and Murrey Grid.

The Natural gas rebalanced after continued to fail and retrace with impulse after reaching its major target, the double top potential from 2014 which equated nicely to over 8/8 Weekly and showed true impulse off that to rebalance Chikou. It’s now a question of degree, 3 or 5? Impulse just shy of the 8/8 and Tenkan confluence. A question of continuation with the 50wma as resistance and cloud as support.

Natural gas futures Weekly

  Natural Gas Production

In the April Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA said it expects output to average 96.9 Bcf/d in April and 97.4 Bcf/d for the full year. This would reflect a 3.8 Bcf/d increase over 2021 levels.

Rystad Energy analysis has Permian Basin drilling permits reaching new highs in March, roughly doubling levels from late 2021 and early 2022. The increase provides further evidence for a natural gas supply boom later this year, according to EBW Analytics Group adding a recent Kansas City Fed energy survey indicates that Midcontinent and Rockies producers plan to boost production by an average 7.5% by 4Q2022 despite difficulty finding labor and investor pressure to maintain capital discipline.

“While we continue to expect major natural gas production gains later this year, however, they may arrive too late to avert bullish pressure in early to mid-summer,” EBW senior analyst Eli Rubin said.

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The EIA’s latest 914 report showed dry gas production slumping 2.59 Bcf/d month/month as every key state saw output slide in the coldest January since 2014. The Appalachian tri-state area saw production fall 1.03 Bcf/d from December, while Texas and New Mexico output slid a combined 0.81 Bcf/d.

Around 97% of production over the next two years will come from the Lower 48 states (L48), excluding the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The other 3% will come from Alaska and the GOM.

U.S. natural gas production growth will primarily come from the Appalachia region in the Northeast, the Permian region in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico, and the Haynesville region in Texas and Louisiana. EIA forecast that the Permian region will contribute 2.2 Bcf/d to production growth in 2022 and 1.2 Bcf/d in 2023.

EIA

Natural Gas Exports Watch

Some US LNG export projects vying for FID:

  • Corpus Christi Stage 3 — 10mtpa (mostly contracted)
  • Plaquemines — 10mtpa (mostly contracted)
  • Driftwood — 11mtpa (mostly contracted)
  • Cameron T4 — 6mtpa
  • Freeport T4 — 8.4mtpa
  • Commonwealth — 8.4mtpa
  • Rio Grande — 11mtpa
  • via Stephen Stapczynski @SStapczynski

On Friday March 25, 2022, from a EU/NATO meeting in Poland , the Biden administration and European Union (EU) leaders announced a new effort to ensure Western supplies of natural gas to the continent through 2022 and beyond. The United States and the EU now have a joint goal to send an additional 15 billion cubic meters of LNG to EU countries in 2022, about 1.5 Bcf/d, with “expected increases going forward,” according to the White House.

U.S. exporters have little room to ramp up more in the near term, and Western governments do not have the power to order private companies in the LNG market to direct shipments to Europe.

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LNG

Natural Gas feed to LNG facilities:

Sabine Pass, Cameron, Elba Island, Cove Point, Freeport & Corpus Christi combined

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US Gulk Coast LNG Netbacks

  ++Charts via RonH @RonH999 – Visit Ron for daily updates 

Natural Gas Mexican Exports Watch

via RonH Energy

US natural gas exports to Mexico established a new monthly record in June 2021 surpassing 7 Bcf/d from then March-to-date average exports to Mexico continued to be flat against the previous month, at barely 5.6 Bcf/d, according to Wood Mackenzie. In the preceding five years, the average February-to-March growth rate was slightly above 4%.

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Mexico pipeline exports

 Natural Gas Canada Import Watch

Source via RonH Energy

Natural Gas Demand Watch

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via RonH Data ‏@ronh999

Natural Gas Nuclear Power Watch

Source: via RonH Data ‏@ronh999

ALERT Three Mile Island nuclear shut down permanently on Friday afternoon 9/292019.

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EDF cut its nuclear output forecast as it realized that “stress corrosion” issues affecting some of its reactors will require more checks and repairs @SStapczynski

Natural Gas Options Structure – Volatility (COT)

NYMEX ON NATURAL GAS OPTIONS CommodityVol.com @CommodityImpVol

NYMEX ON = NATURAL GAS OPTIONS (Live Link)

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Natural Gas Futures Commitment of Traders

 Disaggregated Commitment of Traders (DCOT) via RonH Data ‏@ronh999 @ole_s_hansen

Latest ICE and CFTC Open Interest Data: 

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Natural Gas DCOT futures only managed money traders WoW change

(Note at NG peak Highest Longs Ever 87% (since 2006) Lowest Longs 2020 24%)

  • For week ending June 21
  • Natural Gas DCOT futures only managed money traders 
  • WoW change -5,269 longs,
  • +4,237 shorts,
  • -9,506 net change,
  • 45.5% net long
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The combined net long across 24 major commodity futures has fallen to a four-month low at 1.85m lots. From a recent pre-war and pre-China lockdown peak on Feb 22 at 2.23m lots, energy length is down 23%, metals down 67% while the agriculture sector is up 2% led by softs via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen

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Understanding DCOT Reports

Read Understanding Commitments of Traders Reports – COT, TFF and DCOT  to help understand the disaggregated reports (DCOT) and how they break down the reportable open interest positions into four classifications:

1. Producer/Merchant/Processor/User 2. Swap Dealers 3. Managed Money 4. Other Reportables


Sources: TradersCommunity, EIA, RonH Energy, The Fundamental Edge, KnovaWave

From The TradersCommunity US Research Desk