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U.S. natgas futures fall to fresh 4-week low on cooler forecasts

U.S. natural gas futures eased to a fresh four-week low on Friday on forecasts for cooler weather and lower air conditioning demand over the next two weeks than previously expected. That price decline came despite a continued increase in LNG exports and record sales to Mexico.

Front-month gas futures fell 2.2 cents, or 1.0%, to $2.301 per million British thermal units at 8:28 a.m. EDT (1228 GMT). On Thursday, the contract closed at its lowest since Aug. 13. For the week, the front-month was down 11%, putting it on track for its biggest weekly decline since March. Data provider Refinitiv projected demand in the Lower 48 U.S. states would rise from an average of 84.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) this week to 84.9 bcfd next week as exports increase, before slipping to 83.6 bcfd in two weeks due to a seasonal cooling of the weather. Those forecasts are lower than Refinitiv's projections on Thursday.

The amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants was on track to average 4.5 bcfd in September. That is the most in a month since May and is up for a second month in a row for the first time since hitting a record high of 8.7 bcfd in February. That LNG-export gain comes as Cheniere Energy Inc's Sabine Pass in Louisiana keeps ramping up after shutting in late August for Hurricane Laura and as global gas prices rise making U.S. gas more attractive in Europe and Asia following months of U.S. cargo cancellations due to coronavirus demand destruction.

Cameron LNG's export plant in Louisiana, however, has remained shut since Aug. 27 when Laura struck the southwest Louisiana coast. U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico, meanwhile, were on track to rise to 6.1 bcfd in September, which would top August's record 5.9 bcfd.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Jason Neely)


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