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New England, Gulf Losses Outdo Gains Elsewhere; Futures Bounce Off New Low

Gas for delivery Wednesday was mixed in Tuesday's trading with downturns in New England and the Gulf Coast just outlasting market strength in the Mid-Atlantic, Marcellus, Great Lakes and California. Overall, the market fell a penny.

Futures traders were generally unimpressed with the day's advance as little in the way of weather developments was seen capable of prompting an advance. At the close November had risen 8.8 cents to $3.649 after posting yet another new low for the move and December gained 9.4 cents to $3.731. December crude oil rose 42 cents to $81.42/bbl.

Next-day prices at western locations firmed as new deliveries began to Mexico and power loads and next-day peak power prices increased. Genscape reported nominations on El Paso from Tucson to the Mexico border. "The Sierrita Pipeline expansion to Mexico has begun operations. Over the weekend it was observed that 20 MMcf/d was nominated on El Paso via the newly installed San Joaquin Meter Station outside of Tucson, AZ. And yesterday, FERC formally issued a letter of authorization to commence service. Sierrita is a 61-mile, 36-inch pipe running between Tucson and the Mexican border at Sasabe, Arizona.

"The first phase which commenced operations will provide an initial capacity of 163 MMcf/d to the Sempra-owned Guaymas and Guaymas-El Oro pipelines in Mexico. Two additional phases will increase operational capacity to 200 MMcf/d by October 2017, and 550 MMcf/d by October 2020. The exports to Mexico will supply existing power plants that are in the process of switching from fuel oil to natural gas as well as numerous other proposed power plant projects as they come online over the next 15 years."

Loads and next-day power prices were forecast to increase in California. The California Independent System Operator predicted that Tuesday's peak load of 29,914 MW would increase Wednesday to 30,866 MW. IntercontinentalExchange reported that Wednesday peak power at SP-15 rose $1.48 to $48.22/MWh and off-peak power gained $1.85 to $38.19/MWh.

Gas for delivery Wednesday at Malin gained 6 cents to $3.51, and deliveries to the PG&E Citygates rose a penny to $4.05. At the SoCal Citygates, next-day parcels were seen at $3.81, up 3 cents, and gas at the SoCal Border changed hands 2 cents higher at $3.60. Deliveries on El Paso S Mainline gained 4 cents to $3.64.

Next-day prices at New England points were generally lower, but deliveries to the Mid-Atlantic and Marcellus firmed. Packages at the Algonquin Citygates shed 8 cents to $2.62, but gas on Iroquois Waddington gained 2 cents to $3.63. Deliveries to Tennessee Zone 6 200 L fell 9 cents to $2.65.

On Millennium, Wednesday parcels came in at $2.02, up 6 cents, and on Dominion South next-day deliveries were seen at $2.07, up 11 cents. Gas on Transco Leidy added 5 cents to $2.04, and gas on Tennessee Zone 4 Marcellus was up a penny at $1.90.

Next-day deliveries on Transco Zone 6 and Tetco M-3 rose as temperatures were forecast to ease closer to seasonal norms. Wunderground.com predicted that Tuesday's high in New York City of 72 would slide to 67 Wednesday and 57 by Thursday. The normal high temperature this time of year in New York is 60. Philadelphia's normal high this time of year is 59, and high temperatures Tuesday of 73 were expected to drop to 66 Wednesday and 59 Thursday.

The National Weather Service in New York predicted that "a cold front approaches the area tonight and moves through during the day Wednesday. High pressure builds into the region...and then offshore...for the end of the work week. Strengthening low pressure will impact the region this weekend...followed by high pressure for the start of the new week."

Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 added 49 cents to $3.21, and deliveries to Tetco M-3 rose 5 cents to $2.09.

Analysts aren't willing to give up on any chance of a seasonal rally, at least not yet. "The market's expectation of a normal build in heating demand during November typically is sufficient to keep the front of the futures curve supported as the industry transitions into the winter season," said Teri Viswanath, director of natural gas strategy at BNP Paribas. "However, despite the looming shortfall in end-of-summer inventories, more supply is anticipated to be available this winter to meet peak heating demand requirements. Thanks to nearly a dozen new pipeline expansions, focused on removing bottlenecks in the Marcellus region, consumers could potentially access 2 Bcf/d of additional supplies over the next few months. To be sure, our analysis suggests that the new take-away capacity will enable domestic production to increase 4.25 Bcf/d over the winter compared to year-ago levels.

"The likelihood that the fundamental balance in the industry will slip back into a surplus in 2015 has set a rather bearish tone to the heating season ahead. It is interesting to note, however, that the market made a similar early bearish call on the winter of 2010/2011, only to see the front of the curve gain 20% from the October lows to the peak prices recorded in January. So without further verification of the winter weather ahead, it might be a bit premature to write-off the season at this juncture," she said in a note Monday to clients.

Joe Bastardi, meteorologist with WeatherBELL Analytics, in a 20-day forecast pointed to the ECMWF (European) weather model and is anticipating below-normal temperatures in the East and West and snow at certain eastern points. The forecast shows below-normal temperatures concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic and northern California with a fairway of above-normal temperatures running from the upper Midwest to the Gulf in between. "This is a major cold shot and what will be a major early season snow event from the mountains of West Virginia into New England. Accumulating snows could get to the coast as far south as New Jersey. I think at the least, from DC to Boston, flakes are seen this weekend. The farther northeast you go, the more the snow," he said.

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