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Brief Cold Snap Bolsters Northeast NatGas Basis; Other Markets Quiet

Natural gas forward basis markets remained mostly quiet ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday as weather forecasts failed to offer up any sustained cold weather for the United States.

There were a few exceptions, however, as a fast-moving weather system was expected to track up the eastern U.S. coastline Wednesday, dumping rain and snow and leaving temperatures struggling to get above freezing through Thanksgiving Day.

“However, natgas demand will rapidly ease late this weekend and early next week as all but the extreme northern U.S. warms,” said forecasters with NatGasWeather.

Still, the strong demand from the cold blast was enough to send December basis sharply higher between Friday and Tuesday at two key Northeast market hubs.

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line zone 6-New York December basis jumped 18.6 cents to roll off the board at plus $2.946/MMBtu, according toNGI’s Forward Look. The sharp increase for December occurred as cash prices shot up more than 75 cents for Wednesday-Sunday delivery.

Prices for Transco Zone 6-New York’s January-March package as well as the summer 2015 package shifted no more than a couple of cents, but a steep decline was seen in the winter 2015-2016 strip, which plunged 68 cents to plus $2.37/MMBtu.

At New England’s Algonquin Gas Transmission Citygates, December basis climbed 13.5 cents between Friday and Tuesday to reach plus $9.552/MMBtu as cash prices surged nearly $3 higher, while January basis slipped 4.4 cents to plus $13.918/MMBtu.

“I don’t know why, but I’m assuming people are finally realizing Deep Panuke is back,” a Northeast trader said, noting the facility is operating at a reduced level.

Encana, the facility’s owner, had indicated Deep Panuke would operate at 140,000-180,000 Mcf/d, a decline of about 70,000 Mcf/d from pre-maintenance level, once it returned to service. There was no indication as to if or when the facility would return to full service.

Like New York, Algonquin also posted decreases further out the curve. January basis slipped 4.4 cents to plus $13.918/MMBtu, and the balance-of-winter package fell 8.4 cents to plus $11.603MMBtu.

The winter 2015-2016 strip tumbled $1.50 to plus $6.91/MMBtu.

Most other markets hubs across the U.S. shifted only a couple of cents from Friday to Tuesday, following the path laid out by Nymex futures. The December contract climbed just 2 cents during that time, expiring Tuesday at $4.282/MMBtu.

In the Midwest, points along the Northern Natural Gas Pipeline were down as much as 7.4 cents at the front of the curve, while the balance of winter was down as much as 6.1 cents.

Further out the curve, NNG’s winter 2015-2016 package dropped 5 cents on average on news that the pipeline received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to place units 3 and 4 at the Homer Compressor station and the greenfield and tie-over branch pipeline facilities in Dodge and Dakota counties, NE, and Woodbury County, IA, into partial service. According to the pipeline's Section 7 application to FERC, the project allows the system to deliver 88,430 Mcf/d of firm transport by 4Q2015.

Chicago city-gates December basis fell 4.3 cents to plus 86.5 cents/MMBtu, January slipped 3.5 cents to plus 70.5 cents and the balance of winter dropped 4.8 cents to plus 58 cents.

In the Rockies, Northwest Pipeline-Wyoming December basis fell 4.3 cents to plus 0.61/MMBtu, while packages across the rest of the forward curve failed to budge during the short holiday week.

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