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US natural gas breaks $5 [ClearOnMoney]
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US natural gas breaks $5

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Commentary

US natural gas breaks $5

25 Jan 2014 by Jim Fickett.

US natural gas on the Nymex exchange recent broke above $5 per million BTU, a price not seen for several years. This was certainly due in part to the very cold weather seen recently on the east coast. From the Financial Times:

Nymex February natural gas climbed as much as 6 per cent to a high of $5.026 per m Btu as a wave of cold weather from the Arctic hit the US east coast and Midwest for the second time this month. The benchmark is up more than 15 per cent on the week and is now up almost 20 per cent this year.

A combination of high demand amid the cold weather and frozen wells that have disrupted supplies, has sucked up gas from storage: a record 287bn cu ft was withdrawn in the week to January 10, and a net 1.4tn cu ft has been drawn since early November.

This article, and the news in general, still regards this as a temporary blip, with the cold weather bucking the long-term oversupply. However there is, in fact, at recent prices, no oversupply.

And the medium-term trend is still one of uneconomic drilling slowly being curtailed.

Since [2012] US production has plateaued, as producers favoured drilling for more expensive oil. According to Baker Hughes, almost 80 per cent of the rigs active in the US currently are drilling for oil – at the start of 2011, the majority were drilling for gas.