LBNL Report Number
This paper evaluates the accuracy of two methods to forecast natural gas prices: using the Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook forecasted price (AEO) and the Henry Hub compared to U.S. Wellhead futures price. A statistical analysis is performed to determine the relative accuracy of the two measures in the recent past. A statistical analysis suggests that the Henry Hub futures price provides a more accurate average forecast of natural gas prices than the AEO. For example, the Henry Hub futures price underestimated the natural gas price by 35 cents per thousand cubic feet (11.5 percent) between 1996 and 2003 and the AEO underestimated by 71 cents per thousand cubic feet (23.4 percent). Upon closer inspection, a liner regression analysis reveals that two distinct time periods exist, the period between 1996 to 1999 and the period between 2000 to 2003. For the time period between 1996 to 1999, AEO showed a weak negative correlation (R-square = 0.19) between forecast price by actual U.S. Wellhead natural gas price versus the Henry Hub with a weak positive correlation (R-square = 0.20) between forecasted price and U.S. Wellhead natural gas price. During the time period between 2000 to 2003, AEO shows a moderate positive correlation (R-square = 0.37) between forecasted natural gas price and U.S. Wellhead natural gas price versus the Henry Hub that show a moderate positive correlation (R-square = 0.36) between forecast price and U.S. Wellhead natural gas price. These results suggest that agencies forecasting natural gas prices should consider incorporating the Henry Hub natural gas futures price into their forecasting models along with the AEO forecast. Our analysis is very preliminary and is based on a very small data set. Naturally the results of the analysis may change, as more data is made available.