By Nathalie Voit
U.S. natural gas futures jumped to their highest level in nearly 14 years on May 3 as markets reacted to a global fuel crunch driven by the war in Ukraine.
Industry benchmark Henry Hub surged over 9% on Tuesday to hit a high of $8.169 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), its highest since September 2008.
The contract has surged 110% year-to-date as Europe looks to transition away from Kremlin-owned gas and Asian countries aim to replace carbon-intensive international coal with lower-emitting U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG).
“While the domestic demand does not seem to be too much out of line with the normal conditions, it is the international pull of gas away from the U.S. that concerns the market,” said managing consultant at C.H. Guernsey and Co in Oklahoma City Zhen Zhu, according to Reuters.
“There will be more demand from the international market, especially the European and Asian markets. This increased demand is not expected to be just transitory,” she noted.
Demand for U.S.-produced gas is expected to remain high in Europe as the European Union prepares to issue its sixth round of sanctions against Russia.
Earlier-than-expected heat over the next two weeks is also fueling the price surge as hotter temperatures increase air conditioning usage.
“A faster-than-expected turn hotter is the principle bullish driver as traders jump on early-season heat in Texas — and any further weather model shifts hotter could set up a challenge of recent highs,” energy market advisory service EWB Analytics said.
The U.S. became the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas for the first time in December and is projected to hold that spot through 2022, according to forecasts from ICIS and the U.S. Energy Information Agency.