U.S. natural gas futures fell to a two-week low Friday on forecasts for milder weather than previously expected and a delayed restart to the end of the year for the Freeport liquefied natural gas export plant in Texas.
Milder weather should allow utilities to leave more gas in storage, with stockpiles currently ~2.5% below the five-year average for this time of year.
Front-month Nymex natural gas (NG1:COM) for January delivery settled -6.8% Friday and -14.3% for the week to $6.281/MMBtu.
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Freeport LNG said Friday it expects to restart the second-biggest U.S. LNG export facility at around the end of the year, pending regulatory approval, after previously estimating a mid-December restart, which represented a delay of about a month from an earlier target.
The company has secured several key approvals from regulatory agencies that allow it to complete critical repairs and begin reinstatement of certain systems, a spokesperson told S&P Global Platts.
Freeport LNG has said it will restart and ramp up its three liquefaction trains in a slow and deliberate manner, with each train starting separately before restarting a subsequent train, reaching full production utilizing both docks in March.
The plant has been shut since June 8 after an explosion that consultants said was caused by human error, inadequate operating and testing procedures and other factors.