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Natural Gas Notes: R.W. Beck Projects 15% Price Cut

Energy Consultants R.W. Beck have cut their 2006 natural gas price forecast by 15%. From a company press release:
The latest natural gas market analysis from management consulting and engineering firm R. W. Beck, Inc. supports a reduction to its calendar 2006 forecast Henry Hub price - bringing it to $7.60 per MMBtu.

The new price deck is $1.40 lower than the $9 per MMBtu price R. W. Beck predicted during the first two quarters of 2006. The decrease stems primarily from January's mild weather, which led to lower prices during the second quarter.

"Taking into account the current storage overhang, with normal injections for the rest of the summer, we are projecting a November 1 inventory of 3.55 Tcf, only 0.25 Tcf higher than the previous high recorded in 2004," says Catherine Elder, leader of R. W. Beck's Natural Gas & Fuels practice in Sacramento. "We, therefore, don't think prices will go much lower, absent an extraordinarily mild summer or lower oil prices," she says.

Elder adds, however, that unresolved world tensions may lead R. W. Beck to maintain the assumption of oil at $65 per barrel into 2007. Doing so would increase the 2007 forecast natural gas price from $7.20 to $7.79.
The latest forecast is available for download.

Turkey, which recently made noises about wanting to build three nuclear power plants (possibly with Russian assistance), is apparently facing a series of blackouts and brownouts thanks to higher natural gas prices.

And finally, via Megawatt Daily (subscription required), a Merrill Lynch report projected that electricity demand growth will outstrip capacity additions in the U.S. by more than 31,000 MW through 2010. As a result, more natural gas-fired capacity could be pressed into service as peaking capacity as a "stop-gap measure."

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