Spot gas prices at several locations in the US Northeast fell precipitously heading into the first weekend of February, with demand expected to head down in coming days after a short-lived demand burst caused by an arctic blast this week.
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Iroquois Zone 2 spot prices swooned by more than $124/MMBtu, to $8.05/MMBtu, in Feb. 3 trading for gas flows Feb. 3-5, while Tennessee Zone 6 delivered fell nearly $70/MMBtu, to $9.885/MMBtu, according to preliminary settlement data from S&P Global Commodity Insights. All told, prices at nine Northeastern hubs fell more than $20/MMBtu Feb. 3, returning to more earthly levels after a flurry of demand drove a historic run-up in the previous session.
The cooldown follows a record spike in prices at multiple locations in the US Northeast Feb. 2, mostly because of sub-zero temperatures throttling down on the region this week. According to S&P Global data, temperatures in Boston are expected to fall to 2 degrees Fahrenheit and below zero F Feb. 3 and Feb 4, respectively, while the National Weather Service said wind chills could reach below negative 30 F in Boston and New York.
That cold blast led to a spike in demand to close the week: heating-linked residential-commercial demand in the Northeast rose more than 5.7 Bcf/d between Feb. 2-3, helping drive total regional demand near 37.4 Bcf/d on Feb. 3—the highest mark recorded since Dec. 19, 2019, according to S&P Global data.
The cold weather also had a freezing effect on regional production, with Northeast gas output falling by roughly 1.5 Bcf/d from the prior day to 31.8 Bcf/d Feb. 3, the lowest mark recorded since Dec. 28 of last year.
However, the price dip recorded on Feb. 3 for flows across Feb. 3-5 indicates markets expect the US Northeast to face less pressure in coming days. S&P Global forecasts Northeast res-comm demand will moderate from 22.4 Bcf/d Feb. 3 to 13.4 Bcf/d Feb. 6, before dipping as low as 11.6 Bcf/d by Feb. 10 amid a widespread rise in temperatures.
Weather forecasts from CustomWeather indicate average temperatures in the US Northeast will dip to an average 19 F Feb. 4 before rising to a 40 F average over the following 10 days. That stretch of mild mid-February weather is expected to apply to most of the US, portending to "keep [gas] storage levels above average through the balance of the winter," RBC Capital Markets analyst Scott Hanold wrote in a research note Feb. 2.
Prices in the US Northeast are still expected to remain elevated for the remainder of the month in progress. The February balance-of-month contract for the Algonquin trading hub in the Northeast closed the week at $8.658/MMBtu Feb 3, less than half of where the contract sat at the same time last year, but elevated from levels recorded for the contract over the last five years, according to Intercontinental Exchange data.