MARKET WATCH: Colder weather boosts natural gas prices

Natural gas futures prices continued to rise, boosted by colder weather in the US. Weather forecasts for the next 2 weeks call for temperatures to remain cold for the northern part of the country, said analysts with Barclays Research.

“Well freeze-offs have had an especially large effect on production this winter season so far: according to sample flow from Bentek, production dropped more than 2 bBcfd compared with pre-freeze-off levels in early December,” observed Barclays Research analyst Shiyang Wang. “Although production is recovering, as of [Dec. 12] output remained curtailed in the Rockies, Texas, and other states in the southwest. Production should recover from freeze-offs, as temperatures in the west and south are due to become milder in the forecast period,” Wang said.

The January natural gas contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange increased 7.2¢ on Dec. 12 to settle at a rounded $4.41/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $4.40/MMbtu, jumping 17.3¢.

The NYMEX January crude contract edged up 6¢, closing at $97.50/bbl. The February contract rose 10¢ to settle at $97.82/bbl.

Heating oil for January delivery declined 4.11¢ to settle at a rounded $2.98/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January delivery dropped 2.63¢ to a rounded $2.64/gal.

In London, the January ICE contract for Brent crude oil dropped $1.03, closing at $108.67/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for December was unchanged from Thursday at $932/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $106.96/bbl on Dec. 12, gaining 15¢.

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