After some boring times in Summer and Fall, it has been a wild and crazy ride for natural gas prices this Winter 2018-2019. We have seen the most volatile U.S. gas market since 2009. Prices hit highs not seen since 2014 and lows not seen since 2016. Since November, prompt month gas prices have been in the very wide range of $2.55 to $4.85 per MMBtu. It was a cold and early start to winter in November, augmented by the fear of storage levels nearly 20% below the five-year average, that got the party started.
It was indeed remarkable that the U.S. natural gas market saw the lowest prices since July last week despite Polar Vortex 2019. In particular, given that gas demand peaks in the Winter when heating and power generation needs collide, the U.S. hit an all-time record of 150 Bcf/d of consumption.
In every column I have written about natural gas for Forbes I have referred to the natgas futures contract's legendary status among energy traders. Yes, as I have mentioned before, the natgas contract is known as "the widowmaker" owing to its extraordinary volatility. That volatility has been in full force in the last three months as natgas futures jumped through $4.50/mmcf in November before moving back downward into the recent "normal" range of $3.00-$3.50/mmcf and have now taken another leg downward to sit at $2.83/mmcf as of this writing.