September 15, 2017 / 7:43 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Speculators boost U.S. natgas net longs for 2nd week in a row -CFTC

 (Adds benchmarks and gas supply and demand forecasts)
    Sept 15 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas speculators this week
boosted their net long positions for a second week in a row,
betting prices will rise on the chance there will be less gas
than usual in storage this winter due to relatively low output
and rising exports.
    Speculators in four major New York Mercantile Exchange
(NYMEX) and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) markets added to
their bullish bets by 21,481 contracts to 277,801 in the week to
Sept. 12, the most since mid-July, the U.S. Commodity Futures
Trading Commission said on Friday.
    That compares with a five-year (2012-16) average speculative
net long position of around 127,300. The biggest net long
position was 456,475 in April 2013, while the biggest net short
position was 166,165 in November 2015, according to Reuters
    Gas futures on the NYMEX averaged $2.96 per million British
thermal units during the five trading days ended Sept. 12 versus
$3.01 during the four trading days ended Sept. 5.
    There were only four trading days in the week ended Sept. 5
due to the U.S. Labor Day holiday.
    Over the summer, analysts forecast utilities will add just
1.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas into storage during the
April-October injection season, much less than the 2.1 tcf seen
on average over the past five years. 
    If correct, that would leave stockpiles at the end of
October at 3.8 tcf versus a record high of 4.0 tcf on Oct. 31
last year and a five-year average (2012-16) of 3.9 tcf.
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in
September forecast pipeline and liquefied natural gas exports
would rise from an average of 6.4 billion cubic feet per day
(bcfd) in 2016 to 9.0 bcfd in 2017 and 10.5 bcfd in 2018.
    That puts the United States on track to transition from a
net importer of gas into a net exporter of the fuel on an annual
basis in 2017. The United States was last a net exporter of gas
on an annual basis in 1957.             
    U.S. gas output averaged 73.2 bcfd during the past 30 days,
topping the 71.4 bcfd produced during the same period in 2016.
That, however, falls well short of the 74.3 bcfd during the same
time in 2015, when production was at a record high, according to
Reuters data.       

 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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