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NYMEX July gas closes at $2.949/MMBtu, up 5.9 cents, on storage concerns

The NYMEX July natural gas futures contract rose Monday on concerns about storage tightness.

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The front-month contract settled at $2.949/MMBtu, up 5.9 cents, after trading between $2.912/MMBtu and $2.966/MMBtu.

"The market opened on a strong note, but this is not a weather-related push," said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy.

The six- to 10-day outlook from the US National Weather Service calls for cooler-than-average weather in the Southwest and Rockies and warmer weather across the rest of the US.

"We are two weeks into June and there is still shortness in storage," McGillian said, adding that there were concerns in the market about the deficit to typical levels.

Inventories sit at 1.817 Tcf, a 30.5% deficit to year-ago levels of 2.616 Tcf and a 22% deficit to the five-year average of 2.329 Tcf, according to Energy Information Administration data.

The 92-Bcf injection that EIA posted the week that ended June 1 did little to ease those gaps.

McGillian said the tightness makes a "strong case" for gas prices to track above $3/MMBtu.

US consumption fell 1.4 Bcf over the weekend to average 69.7 Bcf/d Saturday and Sunday, but is expected to rise to 71.1 Bcf Monday, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics data. Demand is projected to pick up over the next week, rising to 72.2 Bcf/d as temperatures start to rise.

Total production is expected to be 77.9 Bcf Monday, down 700 MMcf day on day. Platts Analytics projects output will rise to 78.3 Bcf/d over the next seven days.

Month-to-date production is up 6.2 Bcf to 78.4 Bcf/d from 72.2 Bcf/d at the same time in 2017.

The NYMEX settlement price is considered preliminary and subject to change until a final settlement price is posted at 7 pm EDT (2300 GMT).

--Veda Chowdhury,
--Edited by Valarie Jackson,