During the winter months, energy prices typically experience favorable conditions due to increased heating demand in colder weather, which widens the gap between supply and demand. The use of natural gas tends to reach its peak at the beginning of the winter season as households and office buildings turn to heaters.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) raised U.S. natural gas consumption estimates by 230 MMcf/d to 93.28 Bcf/d for the fourth quarter of 2023 and by 240 MMcf/d to 104.22 Bcf/d for the first quarter of 2024.
Colder U.S. Conditions Drive Energy Prices Higher
Natural gas prices yesterday added to Tuesday’s gains and reported a 4-week high. Gas prices surged Wednesday on forecasts for colder U.S. temperatures, which would drive heating demand for natural gas. Forecaster Maxar Technologies said that a storm next week will bring wintry conditions to the nation’s eastern half and snow in the Midwest from June 8 to June 12.
On the other hand, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center stated that there is a greater than 55% chance the present EI Nino weather pattern will remain strong in the Northern Hemisphere through March, keeping temperatures above average and weighing on gas prices. As per AccuWeather, El Nino will limit snowfall across Canada this season in addition to causing above-normal temperatures across North America.
Last Thursday’s weekly EIA report was bullish for natural gas prices as natural gas inventories for the week ended December 22 declined by 87 Bcf to 3,577 Bcf, a larger draw than expected 79 Bcf decline; however, less than the 5-year average draw of – 123 Bcf.
As of December 22, natural gas inventories were up 12.1% year-over-year and 10% above their 5-year seasonal average, signaling adequate gas supplies.
Record U.S. Oil and Gas Production and Exports
Winter weather can be a significant tailwind for natural gas prices, with colder temperatures more supportive of heating demand, particularly from residential and commercial segments. But with high gas inventories, a price rally may not persist this winter.
U.S. oil and gas production has grown at a much faster pace, offsetting most of the OPEC+ efforts to push up energy prices by coordinated supply cuts.
Earlier, various OPEC+ oil producers announced voluntary production cuts totaling 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first quarter of 2024. Leading the cuts is OPEC’s kingpin and the world’s biggest crude exporter, Saudi Arabia, which extended a voluntary oil output cut of 1 million bpd, priorly intended by the end of December 2023.
The U.S. is currently producing more than 13 million bpd of crude oil and is headed to a continued increase in the short and medium term. According to data from the EIA, U.S. output hit a new monthly record of 13.252 million bpd in September 2023 and kept the pace at 13.248 million bpd in October. As a result, the country’s crude oil exports also surged.
Meanwhile, U.S. LNG exports are breaking records. The U.S. exported more LNG during the first half of 2023 than any other nation, the EIA reported earlier this year. The average LNG exports during this period were 11.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), up 4% from the first half of 2022. Also, October 2023 witnessed record LNG shipments, as per EIA data.
2 Natural Gas Stocks Which Could Benefit from Strong Winter Demand
With a $40.35 billion market cap, Cheniere Energy, Inc. (LNG) is an energy infrastructure company that mainly engages in liquified natural gas (LNG) related businesses in the U.S. The company owns and operates the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana and the Corpus Christi LNG terminal near Corpus Christi, Texas.
In addition, Cheniere Energy owns the Creole Trail pipeline, a 94-mile pipeline interconnecting the Sabine Pass LNG terminal with several interstate pipelines and operates the Corpus Christi pipeline, a 21.5-mile natural gas supply pipeline interconnecting the Corpus Christi LNG terminal with various interstate and intrastate natural gas pipelines.
On November 29, 2023, LNG and Cheniere Energy Partners, LP (CQP) announced that Sabine Pass Liquefaction Stage V, LLC entered a long-term Integrated Production Marketing (IPM) gas supply agreement with ARC Resources U.S. Corp., a subsidiary of ARC Resources Ltd. (ARX), a prominent natural gas producer in Canada.
Under the IPM, ARC Resources agreed to sell 140,000 MMBtu per day of natural gas to SPL Stage 5 for 15 years, commencing with commercial operations of the first train of the Sabine Pass Liquefaction Expansion Project. This deal will allow Cheniere to deliver high quantities of Canadian natural gas to Europe.
“We are pleased to build upon our existing long-term relationship with ARC Resources, and further demonstrate Cheniere’s ability to construct innovative solutions that help meet the needs of customers and counterparties along the LNG value chain while delivering value to our stakeholders,” said Jack Fusco, Cheniere’s President and CEO.
On November 2, LNG’s subsidiary, Cheniere Marketing, LLC, entered a long-term liquified natural gas sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Foran Energy Group Co. Ltd, a leading natural gas company based in China.
Under the SPA, Foran will purchase nearly 0.9 mtpa of LNG for 20 years from Cheniere Marketing on a free-on-board basis for a purchase price indexed to the Henry Hub price, plus a fixed liquefaction fee. Deliveries will commence upon the start of commercial operations of the second train of the SPL Expansion Project in Louisiana.
Also, on October 30, Cheniere’s Board of Directors declared…
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