It’s been a wild year for commodity markets, marked by despair last spring as the world ground to a halt and followed more recently by exuberance. Nowhere has the bullish feeling been more evident than the usually staid market for liquefied natural gas: February futures for Asian gas hit nearly $20 per million British thermal units last week according to data from Refinitiv. As recently as mid-December, they were only trading around $8 per MMBtu.
Unfortunately for gas producers, today’s prices aren’t sustainable and the longer-term supply picture is bearish. Supply stoppages combined with the coldest winter in Asia in decades are a perfect market for those gas producers who still have capacity to supply spot shipments—including U.S. firms like Cheniere. But futures are already pricing in warmer weather a few months out: the April contract is currently trading around $7 per MMBtu.
Further out, Chinese demand is still