Higher natural gas prices are predicted this winter

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Natural gas users in Oklahoma and across the U.S. can expect higher prices this winter predicted the U.S. Energy Information Administration this week….the highest prices in 15 years.

The EIA said that while demand remains high in the U.S. as well as Europe and Asia and inventories remain low, natural gas spot prices will likely climb to a monthly average of $9.1 per million Btus by January 2023. In August, the Henry Hub spot price averaged $8.80 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), up from $7.28/MMBtu in July.

The EIA issued its forecast in its September 2022 Short-Term Energy Outlook and said the expected January price will be the highest inflation-adjusted monthly average price since 2008.

Natural gas futures prices in Europe and Asia set records in August as pipeline exports from Russia to Europe reached their lowest level in 40 years and U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports remained limited due to the outage at the Freeport LNG facility.

EIA expects demand for natural gas to remain high despite high prices for the commodity.

“There are limited options for replacing natural gas in the short term, especially for electricity generation,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis. “We expect electricity producers—particularly in Europe—will have to generate some electricity from oil-based fuels this winter.”

The EIA expects the Henry Hub price to average about $9/MMBtu in 4Q22 and then fall to an average of about $6/MMBtu in 2023 as U.S. natural gas production rises.

As the United States approaches winter, EIA forecasts U.S. natural gas inventories will be 7% below their previous five-year average at the end of October. Natural gas is the primary source of heat for 46% of U.S. households.

EIA continues to forecast a decrease in average U.S. natural gas prices in 2023, as production increases.

Other key takeaways from the September 2022 STEO forecast include:

  • EIA forecasts U.S. LNG exports will average 11.7 billion cubic feet per day during the fourth quarter of 2022—up 17% from the third quarter. “U.S. LNG exports should return to record volumes if the Freeport LNG facility resumes partial operations in November, as we expect,” DeCarolis said.
  • EIA expects that oil prices will remain somewhat the same for the rest of the year, although with continued price volatility. “Any number of factors could affect oil prices in the fourth quarter, including changes in OPEC production, conflict in Libya, or potential U.S. production and transportation disruptions due to late-season hurricanes,” DeCarolis said.
  • EIA estimates that U.S. households consumed 1.7% more electricity this summer (June–August) than during the summer of 2021. This increase is largely because estimates show the summer of 2022 was slightly hotter than 2021.

Source: EIA