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What's next for natural gas prices? Goldman Sachs weighs in

Published 04/25/2024, 08:56 PM
© Reuters.

Recent trends in the natural gas market suggest a potential moderation in Henry Hub prices, according to insights from analysts at Goldman Sachs. Henry Hub is a natural gas pipeline located in Erath, Louisiana. It serves as the official delivery location for futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

Analysts explain that despite US gas production slightly lagging behind expectations, particularly in the Gulf region, a combination of factors, including maintenance activities, well shut-ins, and production declines driven by low investments have influenced market dynamics.

Henry Hub cash prices have widened their discount relative to the prompt NYMEX contract, currently standing at a 22-cent differential compared to 12 cents earlier this month. This shift has been driven by supply increases in certain regions, notably the recovery of Haynesville production in North Louisiana from earlier maintenance.

On the demand side, seasonal weaknesses during shoulder months and persistent LNG outages have contributed to the softness in the market. Disruptions at the Freeport LNG export facility since mid-January, including reported train restart issues, have notably impacted US gas prices, with a daily decrease of 17 cents observed.

Analysts anticipate that these factors will be transient. As cooling demand rises with the approach of summer, LNG outages are expected to be resolved, and declines in Haynesville production are likely to deepen, leading to a moderation in market softness from current levels.

Looking ahead, concerns about US LNG maintenance persist but are not forecasted to result in end-summer storage congestion. Analysts project that ongoing outages at US LNG export facilities will be fully resolved by May, with average LNG feedgas demand expected to increase to 12.8 Bcf/d for the remainder of the summer.

While there are risks associated with potential further LNG maintenance, even in a scenario where significant facilities undergo maintenance, estimated end-October storage levels under current forecasts are expected to remain below 4.1 Tcf, indicating a lack of end-summer congestion concerns.

Overall, the analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests a potential shift in market dynamics towards a more balanced state as seasonal factors and operational issues in the LNG sector are addressed, influencing the trajectory of natural gas prices in the coming months.

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