Natural Gas and Electricity Prices Are Trending Upward

Natural gas prices have very quietly trended up over the past three months pulling power prices along for the ride.  With NYMEX prompt month gas just above $3 as this article was being written, many seem to be putting the value in historical perspective. But relative to recent prices, $3 represents a substantial move.  During this stretch, September natural gas prices have risen over 36% and one year forward, beginning September, have increased over 17%.  For a commodity that has seen its value plummet so dramatically and for such a prolonged period, this 3-month gain represents a stark change and one that should have garnered more attention than it actually has.

Storage has helped fuel this run as many of the recent summer injection levels are down from previous year, week-in-kind volumes.  Despite the lower build, end of injection season levels are still forecaste to be at all-time highs.  Rig counts continue to fall and over the past nine months, they have decreased by nearly 50% -contributing to the smaller storage builds and price increases.  As prices rise and as we near the winter season, the rig decline could reverse course.   The approximate 10% year-over-year contango in the forward market displays the general market consensus that the future will hold higher prices, but a similar or stronger contango has existed over the past several years throughout a majority of the price decline.