The prospect of prolonged Gulf of Mexico (GOM) production shut-ins in the wake of Hurricane Ida helped send natural gas futures higher in early trading Wednesday. The October Nymex contract was up 7.1 cents to $4.448/MMBtu as of around 8:50 a.m. ET.
Bullish indicators have increased for the natural gas market since Tuesday morning, according to analysts at EBW Analytics Group. They pointed to cooling degree day gains for days nine through 15 in the latest model runs, and they noted hot weather in Texas that could help support both physical prices at Henry Hub and futures.
“It also is becoming more apparent that much of the production in the Gulf of Mexico could be shut in for all or most of September due to power outages and severe damage at Port Fourchon,” the analysts said.
Port Fourchon serves as a “key staging area for oil and gas service companies in the Gulf” and is home to “several major natural gas processing plants,” according to the firm. The port was directly in Hurricane Ida’s path and endured “particularly severe” damage, the EBW analysts said.
“While lost production is likely to be largely offset by losses in demand, the prospect of a prolonged production shut-down could have a major bullish impact on the gas market,” the analysts said.
Wood Mackenzie’s daily pipe production estimates as of early Wednesday showed around 94% of GOM supply still shut in following the storm, albeit with output “showing minor day/day increases.”
“Impacts on demand remain mostly the same, but progress is underway,” Wood Mackenzie analysts Kara Ozgen and Dan Spangler wrote in a note to clients. Data showed natural gas-fired generation remaining at below-normal levels, while “power outages still amounted to over one million customers for Louisiana and Mississippi combined. However, there has been progress, with Entergy Corp. restoring power yesterday for 85,000 customers in Louisiana and for 26,000 customers in Mississippi.”
Ida’s impacts on industrial demand continued to linger Wednesday after the storm caused many facilities to shut down, according to the analysts.
“Louisiana burns around 3 Bcf/d for industrial use, or around 14% of total U.S. industrial demand,” Ozgen and Spangler said. “Many large end users were in the path of the storm and remain offline.”
From a technical standpoint, prices on the October contract will need to break below support at $4.219-4.202-4.192 and $3.917-3.902 in order to make the case that prices have topped out, according to ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose.
“Forced to treat any congestion near the highs as a pause in the up trend otherwise,” LaRose said. “Still see the potential for a run to $4.742-4.818-4.836, $5.000, even $5.354-5.410-5.517-5.600 if the $4.526 high can be breached before support is broken.”
October Nymex crude oil futures were up 11 cents to $68.61/bbl at around 8:50 a.m. ET.