Natural gas futures continued to sell off, down another 4.3% on the day and down 12.49% for the week after EIA reported an above consensus net build of +110 Bcf from storage last week. In the same week last year stocks were +82Bcf, with a five-year (2017-2021) average +101Bcf. Salt Dome Cavern stocks rose +10 Bcf after rising +4 Bcf last week. Natural gas prices in Europe and the UK continued to slide as did LNG futures in the past week. TTF was down 13.68% for the day, UK gas down 13.82%. The speculative inspired rally from ETF rolls and delta covering two weeks ago helped clean out many shorts, prices are lower with the same factors higher production and lower demand.
Last week benchmark Henry hub futures pulled back 6.56% after it rose 14.12%, after weather and production updates futures prices pulled back somewhat. HH is now down -72.27% year on year.
LNG demand is a big driver of natural gas demand. Average gas flows to the seven big U.S. LNG export plants rose to 14.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in April, up from a record 13.2 bcfd in March, data provider Refinitiv said. In the background however European natural gas futures sold off hard. The impact relative to the US pricing is lower LNG export demand.
Production has not let up, Permian and Haynesville production at all-time highs of late. Eagle Ford output very close to all-time highs. Gas stockpiles in northwestern Europe (Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands) were currently about 56% of capacity, about 66% above its five-year (2018-2022) average for this time of year. The European Union wants utilities to refill stockpiles during the summer injection season to 90% of capacity by Nov. 1. U.S. gas inventories are currently about 21% above their five-year average.
Into The Vortex Contents
Click on the links below to navigate to the relevant section.
- EIA Natural Gas Storage Forecast and Analysis
- Natural Gas Quick Summary
- Rig Watch
- LNG and Export Watch
- Natural Gas Import Watch
- Natural Gas Demand Watch
- Nuke Watch
- Natural Gas Futures Technical Analysis
- Option Volatility and Gamma
- DCOT Report
Energy Price Matrice Performance
Moving forward weather, ETF speculation and the strength of LNG demand will determine natural-gas prices. Remember natural gas prices are majority affected by domestic actions, for the US the variance is exports, that is Mexican pipelines, Canadian imports and LNG exports.
Henry Hub was the worst performing future in the first quarter of 2023. Natural-gas prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 53% in the first three months of the year and fell to their lowest finish in about two-and-a-half years earlier in March.
EIA Weekly Storage Report
- Report Date: 5/25/2023 Via TradersCommunity.com
- Release Time: Thursday 6/1/2023 10:30 p.m. ET
- Market Expectations
- Actual + Bcf Prior +99 Bcf
- Consensus Forecast +110 Bcf
- Cons. Range +104 Bcf to +117 Bcf
- Last Year: +82 Bcf
- 5 Year Average: +101 Bcf
- Reuters survey of 10 analyst’s median + Bcf
- Bloomberg survey of 9 analysts median + Bcf
- The Wall Street Journal’s survey showed a median + Bcf
Working gas in storage was 2,446 Bcf as of Friday, May 26, 2023, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 110 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 557 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 349 Bcf above the five-year average of 2,097 Bcf. At 2,446 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range.
Broken down by region
Current Storage Level vs. Last Year; 5-Yr
- Current Storage Level: 2,446 Bcf
- Storage 2021/Same Week: 1,889 Bcf
- 5Yr Avg/Same Week: 2,097 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.
Global Natural Gas Quick Overview
Via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen
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 results 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
- The Gulf coast hurricane season looks to be quite inactive. The North Atlantic Ocean has experienced the quietest months of July and August since 1941. Named storms have skipped August in the Atlantic only three years on record: 1997, 1961, and 2022. (This is bullish or bearish depending on where the storm comes onshore)
Bullish Factors Include
- Record foreign demand for U.S. nat-gas 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
- Discussion of a European gas price cap
Baker Hughes active rigs total in the U.S. onshore and Gulf of Mexico (GOM)
- US Baker Hughes Rig Count 26-May: 711 (prev 720)
- – Rotary Gas Rigs: 137 (prev 141)
- – Rotary Oil Rigs: 570 (est 572; prev 575)
US Oil Rigs w/w changes by key shale basins
- Permian +1 to 347
- Eagle Ford unchangedat 57
- Williston unchanged at 38
- Cana Woodford -2 to 22
- DJ Niobrara -1 to 14
- Canada’s weekly rig count at 140 April 14, 2023
- Canada averaged 140 active drilling rigs this week according to data from the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors. Of those rigs, 45% are drilling for natural gas, 41% are drilling for oil, 3% for other (helium, hydrogen, geothermal, lithium, or potash), and 11% are moving.
- Drilling activity by province is 81% in Alberta, 17% in BC, 1% in Saskatchewan, and 1% elsewhere.
- Precision Drilling holds the majority of the Canadian market share with 35%, Ensign Drilling with 22%, Savanna Drilling with 10%, Horizon Drilling with 7%, and Akita Drilling with 5%. View a full breakdown of Western Canada’s rig activity .
- BOE Report
Talking About the Weather
There are every indication that geopolitical and climate risks will only intensify going forward. How secure are global supply chains in a world hamstrung by today’s energy and climate uncertainties? What might global inflationary and economic consequences be if China’s extreme drought persists into next year?
Gulf of Mexico
Last summer was dominated by record heat, which has seen a barrier to building storage inventories as intense heat in June and July has used up more gas for power generation. In Texas alone, the electric grid operator for 90% of the state, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has seen its peak power loads set fresh records on 11 days.
La Nina conditions through the summer and into next fall raise 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 phenomenon begins when the atmosphere reacts to a cooler patch of water over the Pacific Ocean.
There have been four other times over the past 30 years in which the Atlantic basin has been devoid of named storm activity between July 3 and Aug. 3, 1993, 1999, 2000 and 2009, according to data analyzed by Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.
On average, there are 14 named storms in a hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin, according to data collected between 1991 and 2020, with the first hurricane typically recorded by Aug. 11, and the first major hurricane occurring by Sept. 1.
In the last two years the third month of hurricane season can be extremely active. Four named storms were spawned during the month of August in 2021, including the powerful Hurricane Ida that devastated communities from Louisiana to New Jersey at the tail end of the month. In 2020, the devastating Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm, the 12th named tropical system of the season. And in 2019, Hurricane Dorian, one of the basin’s strongest-ever hurricanes, formed in late August before making its destructive landfall in the Bahamas on Sept. 1 of that year.
Paths of Recent Gulf Hurricanes
Technical Analysis via KnovaWave
Henry Hub Natural Gas Futures Weekly Chart Outlook via @knovawave
Daily: US Natural Gas futures are a great example of rebalancing mania. We have for the first time since last December got over the 50dma as we corrected the manic 5. We have got over the cloud and we saw confluence with the Kijun, Tenkan energizing the move higher. Much work to do as we sailed lower under the 61.8%. Two clear alternatives, we are correcting the highs 5 or that was a 3 and we go higher. Resistance is heavy: 0/8 and above the March gap. Should it get going VPOC will fuel a move. If not Kijun, 50dma and cloud support above previous lows, and which was also a major break up level. (The spheres of influence)
Important to watch how this energy was built for shape correlation. 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 year’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: Natural gas first sign of life since breaking the weekly 50wma and the Kijun gave a kiss of death. This week we closed right above Tenkan with a 1-2 out of the sphere of influence. Support under previous lows. Above MML, 50wma and fibs. Energy from flat Kijun and cloud twist. Impulse needed to confirm1 higher. Recall the instability stems from the sharp reversal off the 5 over 8/8 indicative of speculative fervor like the previous impulsive spikes. Heavy resistance is the 1/8 Sphere (4 or IV). Bulls need all the damage down to be rebuilt. Kijun is major resistance given energy higher came from a clean break of the Kijun.
The key has been rebalancing which we also can see in option vol and spec v’s hedger blending. 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.
European Energy Watch
Natural gas prices saw some violent few years in Europe. After being held hostage to the restricted flow of Nord Stream from Russia the energy crisis pounding the world with unheard of prices was impacting the domestic pricing. In Europe we saw record highs again but since then prices collapsed from newly sourced supply and less severe weather coupled with collapsing industrial demand.
Catalysts to watch:
- Hotter or colder weather hitting demand.
- Russia transfer, sanctions, cheating
- German Industry
- French Nukes
- Norway supply
- Putin constant threats
Into the Maelstrom – LNG and European Natural Gas Outlook for the Week Ahead:
Natural Gas Production
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 Demand Watch
Natural Gas Exports Watch
Natural Gas to Feed to LNG Facilities
Sabine Pass, Cameron, Elba Island, Cove Point, Freeport & Corpus Christi combined.
Note: On Wednesday March 8, 2023, Freeport got final approval to restart its final train “The U.S. energy regulator on Wednesday granted Freeport LNG’s request to return to service the last of its three gas liquefaction units and phase 1 facilities.” The Freeport terminal accounted for around 20% of all U.S. natural gas exports before the explosion on June 8
++Charts via RonH @RonH999 – Visit Ron for daily updates
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 BBG Stephen Stapczynski @SStapczynski
Natural Gas Mexican Exports Watch
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 according to Wood Mackenzie. In the preceding five years, the average February-to-March growth rate was slightly above 4%.
Natural Gas Canada Import Watch
Natural Gas Nuclear Power Watch
Source: via RonH Data @ronh999
ALERT Three Mile Island nuclear shut down permanently on Friday afternoon 9/29/2019.
Natural Gas Options Structure – Volatility
NYMEX ON NATURAL GAS OPTIONS CommodityVol.com @CommodityImpVol
NYMEX ON = NATURAL GAS OPTIONS (Live Link)
Natural Gas Futures Commitment of Traders (COT)
Disaggregated Commitment of Traders (DCOT) via RonH Data @ronh999 @ole_s_hansen
Latest ICE and CFTC Open Interest Data:
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 May 23
- Natural Gas DCOT futures only managed money traders
- WoW change +1,534 longs,
- -8,909 shorts,
- +10,443 net change,
- 46.3% net long.
In energy week to May 9 saw mixed flows despite crude oil’s 3% rally with fund selling of Brent (-25k to 113k) being partly offset by buying of WTI (+15 to 172k). The gasoil short was reduced by 4k from a 7-yr hi to -28.5k while the RBOB long was cut by 8.6k to 39k
Natural gas attempt to rally from the current $2 floor helped support a reversal of the positions held across four Henry Hub deliverable swaps and futures contract to the first net-long in ten months in late April. via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen
COT on Commodities
Money managers in commodities covering the week to May 9: Net exposure across 24 futures contracts held near a June 2020 low at 702k lots. Selling of energy (Brent and RBOB) being offset by fresh demand for ags led by corn, wheat, sugar and cotton. Small changes seen in metals ahead of correction via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen
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, CommodityVol, Argus, KnovaWave
From The TradersCommunity US Research Desk