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U.S. natgas jumps as energy firms struggle to restart post-Ida

U.S. natural gas futures rose on Friday, ending a second straight week of gains, as significant output remained offline in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, exacerbating supply concerns in an already tight market.

Front-month gas futures NGc1 for October delivery rose 7.1 cents, or 1.5%, to settle at $4.712 per million British thermal units. Prices hit a more than two-year peak on Thursday.

U.S. Gulf Coast energy companies have advanced efforts to restart facilities, but larger hurdles remain for producers and refiners.

“We normally expect a quick recovery in production from hurricanes and this time it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, so that’s raising concerns about adequate storage going into winter,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

“Near-term, a test of $5 in the front end of the curve is not out of the question.”

A weekly report released on Thursday showing a storage injection of just 20 billion cubic feet (bcf) during the week ended Aug. 27 also supported prices.

Data provider Refinitiv said total U.S. production has averaged 88.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in September, down from 92.0 bcfd in August. Output is also expected to slip further, to 88 bcfd next week.

U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico rose to an average 6.3 bcfd so far this month, from 6.2 bcfd in August, but were slightly lower than June’s monthly record of 6.7 bcfd.

With European TRNLTTFMc1 and Asian JKMc1 gas both trading over $18 per mmBtu, compared with just under $5 for the U.S. fuel, analysts have said buyers around the world would keep purchasing all the liquefied natural gas the United States can produce.

But Price Group’s Flynn noted that the closure of several key ports in Louisiana due to Ida could temporarily slow LNG exports.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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