US natural gas falls through the April-May lows

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The story of natural gas this month is what happened at the Freeport LNG facility in Texas.

An explosion there locked in 2 bcf per day of exports that would have gone to Europe. Despite high temperatures in the US and power burn, today’s storage report showed a build of 74 bcf, up from 65 bcf expected.

Since the explosion (and Russia lowering European supplies) the benchmark prices in the US and Europe have gone in opposite directions. Here’s a look at the US chart, which is down 8.5% today on the inventory report.

Henry hub

That’s a break through the May and late-April lows.

In contrast, European benchmark TTF gas is up 4.4% today and in line to close at the highest since March.

European TTF

For Europe, the key next is what happens to Russian gas. If supplies continue to be curbed, they won’t be able to meet storage goals heading into next winter.

For the US, the long-term picture is strong due to increased urgency to build more LNG facilities. At the same time, +$6 gas is wildly profitable for drillers and fracking was initially natural-gas extraction technology. There’s plenty of gas in North America so prices should slowly fall towards the marginal cost of extraction. That said, reports of difficulties finding rigs and pipe are an x-factor (and so is the weather).

Looking ahead, the re-start of the Freeport LNG facility is probably the next inflection point. Seasonally, the June-through-August period is negative for gas and July in particular.