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NYMEX December gas settles 1.3 cents higher on steady supply

With supply steady and a largely favorable extended weather forecast for the next two weeks, the NYMEX December natural gas contract hewed closely to Thursday's levels for most of the Friday session, eventually settling at $3.213/MMBtu, up 1.3 cents.

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Production and imports from Canada are staying steady, averaging about 81.51 Bcf/d, according to Platts Analytics' Bentek Energy. Friday's supply figure checked in just a hair below that level at 81.5 Bcf/d.

Demand over the last seven days has been volatile, swinging from a low of about 74 Bcf/d last Sunday to a high of about 98.4 Bcf/d Friday as colder weather settled in over the northern US from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Overall, though, demand over that period averaged 85.1 Bcf/d.

But demand is expected to fall off as bearish weather enters the picture. US demand is slated to tumble to about 85.2 Bcf/d for the next seven days, then start to climb again to 92.6 Bcf/d over the eight- to 14-day window.

The eight- to 14-day weather forecast calls for lower-than-normal temperatures in the Northeastern and Southeastern demand areas, but most of the rest of continental US looks to see above-average temperatures toward the end of November.

With the arrival of true winter weather, the shoulder season has officially passed.

The US Energy Information Administration Thursday reported a build of 15 Bcf for the week that ended November 3. That injection put total US stocks at about 3.79 Tcf, 5.5% below year-ago levels of 4.009 Tcf and 1.8% off the five-year-average level of 3.861 Tcf.

Bentek Energy data shows steady draws through November 23, with 42 Bcf likely to be taken out of storage for the week that will end November 10 and 64 Bcf for the period that will end November 16.

But, even though there are draws seen for the next few weeks, total storage still looks to top 3.6 Tcf November 23.

The NYMEX settlement price is considered preliminary and subject to change until a final settlement price is posted at 7 pm EST (0000 GMT).

--John DeLapp,
--Edited by Valarie Jackson,