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Natural Gas Holds Steady as US Supplies Rise, NY Rejects Pipeline

May 16, 2019 at 15:39 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures are holding steady on Thursday, despite the US government reporting a surge in domestic inventories of the energy supply. The industry is also bracing for various Democratically-controlled states to push back against natural gas development, just like what New York State recently did, which could impact the nation’s energy revolution.

June natural gas futures advanced $0.03, or 1.15%, to $2.63 per million British thermal units (btu) at 15:03 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas prices have had a great one-month performance, leaving the energy commodity on track for a weekly gain of more than 1%. Year-to-date, natural gas is down just under 4%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic stockpiles of natural gas climbed by 106 billion cubic feet for the week ending May 10. This is in line with what the market had anticipated. In total, inventories stand at 1.653 trillion cubic feet, up 103 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are 286 billion below the five-year average.

The industry is buzzing about the latest developments across the country of several left-leaning states fighting back the development of natural gas. Facing pressure from environmental groups, many Democratic governors and state houses have been reining in the sector by rejecting permit applications or postponing projects that have been deemed environmentally unsafe.

On Wednesday, New York State rejected a water quality permit for a 24-mile underwater pipeline. A spokesperson for Williams Partners, the pipeline developer, confirmed that the company will resubmit the application. New Jersey regulations will make a decision by June 5.

State regulators may have had caved to environmental groups that warn the Northeast Supply Enhancement project from New Jersey to Queens threatens marine life. Environmentalists are also griping that the project further extends the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels instead of green energy.

The natural gas initiative would expand the Transco pipeline, which extends from Texas to the northeast, allowing the national grid to bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to the metropolitan region.

Meanwhile, the spring temperatures are leaving investors ready for the dog days of summer. With temperatures hovering around seasonal norms, there has been a lack of significant air-conditioning demand that would reduce storage levels. This trend is leaving natural gas prices only 1% higher compared to the same time a year ago.

In other energy markets, June West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures soared $1.33, or 2.16%, to $63.36 per barrel. July Brent crude futures surged $1.37, or 1.91%, to $73.13 a barrel. June gasoline futures spiked $0.05, or 2.4%, to $2.06 a gallon. June heating oil futures jumped $0.05, or 2.3%, to $2.13 per gallon.

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