U.S. and Canadian natural gas prices soar during arctic freeze

Feb 8 (Reuters) - Natural gas prices across North America soared on Monday as homes and businesses cranked up their heaters to escape a blast of arctic air and snow moving from Canada to the U.S. Midwest.

“This blast of cold air will likely settle in for multiple days to come,” meteorologists at AccuWeather said.

High temperatures in Chicago were expected to remain below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius) from Feb. 5-22, AccuWeather said. The normal high in the city at this time of year is 34 degrees F.

That cold air will move to the East Coast later this week where it could drop up to a foot (30.5 centimeters) of snow on parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New England that have already been blanketed by more than a foot of snow over the past week or so.

Next-day gas for Monday rose to its highest since December 2018 at the Waha hub NG-WAH-WTX-SNL in the Permian basin in Texas where some producers were forced to pay others to take their gas when prices turned negative in October.

That was before Kinder Morgan Inc’s 2.1-billion- cubic-feet-per-day (bcfd) Permian Highway and WhiteWater Midstream/MPLX LP’s 1.8-bcfd Agua Blanca gas pipes in Texas entered service in January, which helped free up much of the gas trapped in the Permian shale region.

One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about five million U.S. homes for a day.

Spot prices in other regions, meanwhile, soared to their highest since March 2019, including the AECO hub NG-ASH-ALB-SNL in Alberta, Dominion South NG-PCN-APP-SNL in southwest Pennsylvania, Chicago NG-CG-CH-SNL and the Henry Hub benchmark NG-W-HH-SNL in Louisiana.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Paul Simao