Gas Market Update (October 23, 2012)

Canadian natural gas rose to an 11- month high last week after the U.S. Energy Department reported a decline in gas storage surplus.

The November gas contract in Alberta rose to its highest level since November 2011 when the Energy Department confirmed that inventories had grown by 51 billion cubic feet (Bcf) last week, less than the five-year average gain of 71 Bcf and last year’s 106 Bcf increase.

Meanwhile, a US energy analyst told CBC News that Irving Oil Ltd. may be “eyeing the Ontario and Quebec energy markets after receiving approval by US authorities to export natural gas to Canada.”

The U.S. Department of Energy has approved Irving Oil Terminals of Portsmouth, New Hampshire,  to ship 58 Bcf of natural gas from the United States to any Canadian entry point.

Supporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will launch the first major campaign to push lawmakers to allow the sale of more U.S. gas abroad, as the industry push for exports intensifies.

According to Reuters, the effort by the Centre for Liquefied Natural Gas will include a new website aimed at policymakers and the public, backing the case that selling the nation’s surplus natural gas to foreign countries will yield significant economic benefits and not lead to a dramatic increase in prices.

Asia should set up a regional spot market for natural gas trading to reduce high acquisition costs, the International Energy Agency (IEA) chief has stated.

“I think it’s of the utmost importance that in Asia there needs… to be developed a spot market for gas because it’s not there at the moment,” IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said at a conference in Singapore.

Pointing to Shanghai — which established a domestic natural gas spot trading platform earlier this year — van der Hoeven noted that the entire region needs a similar platform.

“Japan imported LNG at $18 per million British thermal units ($18 MMBtu) this summer, compared to $3 MMBtu prices in the United States and $10 to $12 in Europe,” she added.

Gas for November delivery rose this week to $3.617 MMBtu on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement price since December last year. Prices are up 21 percent this year.