Winter 2015/16 is on the Horizon

Omaha, NE - 08/28/2015

Before we address this coming winter, here are a few highlights of natural gas market events thus far this year:

  • NYMEX traded in a narrow band between about $2.50 and $3.25 since Jan 1st. One would have to go back many, many years to find an 8-month period with that little movement. 
  • Shale supply growth continues to astound. It has gone from about 2 Bcf/day in 2000 to over 41 Bcf/day in 2015.
  • Natural gas used for electric generation production sets multiple daily records in late July at over 38 Bcf/day. In April, more power was produced from natural gas than with coal – the first month that has ever happened in the U.S.
  • FERC approves permitting for several U.S. LNG export terminals. Now under construction.

Regarding this winter - in the end, the principal driver in the natural gas market each winter is weather.  Most weather experts are pointing to the strong El Nino conditions that currently exist, which often leads to a milder winter.  The strongest El Nino in recent history was in 1996/97 and many are predicting a stronger El Nino presence this winter.  Many current forecasts point towards normal to warmer-than-normal conditions for the northern portion of the country. Forecasts are cooler for the south and southeast. El Nino could also provide some needed higher-than-normal precipitation on the southern West Coast and in the Southwest. Given the ample production and gas storage, the country looks to be in pretty good shape heading into winter.  Given these factors, one would conclude that gas price volatility will be non-existent this winter; however, a good risk management strategy should always be in place to put guardrails on the roadway.

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