The Alberta Clipper that blasted cold air through last weekend was followed by an Atlantic coastal storm that blanketed New England with snow and wreaked havoc with airline schedules.

In addition to long lines of cranky, delayed travelers at airport Starbucks locations, natural gas has experienced spot market gyrations and benchmark climbs, while NGL prices have convulsed.

Weekly average ethane prices have soared 25.8% since mid-December at Mont Belvieu, Texas, and 30.8% at Conway, Kan. Propane jumped 6.9% then fell back 9.4% at Mont Belvieu. At Conway, the rise was 9.6% and the fall was 7.5% in that time period.

An upward trend for ethane continued this week, with a close of 26.75 cents per gallon at Mont Belvieu on Jan. 17. Natural gas trends have also been somewhat jagged, with Chicago Citygate rising close to $4 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on Jan. 16 before a steep drop to close at $3.32/MMBtu on Jan. 17. The steadier Henry Hub price increased from $2.80/MMBtu on Jan. 5 to $3.23/MMBtu on Jan. 17, a rise of 15.6%.

But it’s not just the frigid Northeast that has influenced gas markets. Record low temperatures in the usually mild Gulf Coast region have nurtured rumors of a 265 billion cubic feet (Bcf) draw for the week ending Jan. 19, Seaport Global Securities wrote in a research note.

In the week ended Jan. 12, storage of natural gas in the Lower 48 experienced a decrease of 183 Bcf, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported, less than the Bloomberg consensus of a 198 Bcf draw and the 2017 draw at this time of 230 Bcf. It was closer to the S&P Global Platts forecast of a 189 Bcf draw. The figure also contrasts with the five-year average decrease of 203 Bcf, resulting in a total of 2.584 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). That is 12.5% below the 2.952 Tcf figure at the same time in 2017 and 12.3% below the five-year average of 3.946 Tcf.

If the 265 Bcf withdrawal estimate is correct, then the working gas inventory would descend to about 2.3 Tcf or 17.7% below 2017 levels at this time and 17.3% below the five-year average, Seaport Global said.

What does this trend mean?

“With more than two months of winter left, the pathway towards 1.1 Tcf seems to be open for business,” said Seaport Global. Citing EIA’s data history, the analysts wrote that since 1993, there have been only 10 weeks with draws over 250 Bcf. Only three times have there been weeks with draws in excess of 270 Bcf.

Will this week make four? Stay warm and stay tuned.

Joseph Markman can be reached at and @JHMarkman.