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Rebounding Physical NatGas Market Outpaces Sluggish Futures; November Drops 4 Cents

After the physical natural gas market took a 14 cent drubbing for weekend and Monday packages, the stage was set for a rebound in Monday's trading. Physical prices got most of it back, with the NGI National Spot Gas Average posting a 13-cent rise to $2.69 and healthy double-digit gains spread across the board.

Just as New England points Friday were whacked for $1 plus losses, those points recovered most of that in Monday's trading. A strong next-day power market provided additional incentive for incremental purchases as well.

Futures were not quite so fortunate. The November contract lethargically traded down to $3.244, off 4.1 cents, and December lost 2.2 cents to $3.481. November crude oil shed 41 cents to $49.94/bbl.

"Overall it was a quiet day, and I don't think there is much for the bulls to worry about," said a New York floor trader. He said trading ranges were minimal; natural gas had a 6-cent range, and crude oil traded within about a $1 range, narrow for crude oil.

"I look for initial support at $3.20, then $3.10 and $3, but I am not seeing much either way. We'll see how the storage number plays out, but today was pretty light all the way around."

The Desk' Early View storage survey last Friday of 12 analysts showed an average 74 Bcf with a range from 59 Bcf to 82 Bcf.

In physical market, trading next-day prices got a boost from higher on-peak power prices across the country. Intercontinental Exchange reported that on-peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub rose a stout $8.99 to $32.58/MWh, and power at the New York ISO's Zone G (eastern New York) delivery point added $10.68 to $$35.68/MWh.

On-peak Tuesday power at the PJM West Hub added $6.89 to $48.84/MWh, and deliveries to the Indiana Hub rose $4.70 to $60.91/MWh. In the West, next-day on-peak power at SP-15 added $3.85 to $36.03/MWh.

Next-day gas at the Algonquin Citygate jumped 71 cents to $2.16, and deliveries to Iroquois, Waddington zoomed $1.24 to $2.70. Gas on Tenn Zone 6 200L jumped 87 cents to $2.14, and gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 rose 48 cents to $1.28.

Major market trading centers also gained. Gas at the Chicago Citygate rose 11 cents to $3.03, and packages at the Henry Hub were quoted 3 cents higher at $3.16. Gas on Panhandle Eastern gained 10 cents to $2.82, and deliveries to the SoCal Citygate added 31 cents to $3.05.

Power loads were expected to increase as well.

The PJM Interconnection forecast peak load Monday of 34,078 MW would rise to 36,754 MW Tuesday and advance further Wednesday to 37,078 MW. CAISO predicted peak load Monday of 30,201 MW would climb to 30.822 MW Tuesday. .

Forecasters were having a difficult time as their weather models are not in agreement. In the bigger picture, there seems to be nothing in the data that suggests the incursion of weather events that would lead to seasonal heating demand.

"Back on Friday, the models were in great agreement on a strong warm six-10 day range (which is now the one- to five-day), but in poor agreement for the 11-15 day," said Commodity Weather Group President Matt Rogers in a Monday morning report to clients.

"Now that poor agreement has shifted forward into the six-10 day too, lowering confidence for that period. The American ensemble features seasonal to below normal temperatures for the Eastern U.S., and the European has warmer anomalies (warm side of zero normal line) all the way to the East Coast with the exception of the Northeast. There is at least some agreement on a warm Texas to Southwest and SoCal, which is generating some last-minute enhanced cooling demand concerns."

Data from the National Weather Service shows for the week ending Oct. 22, little in the way of heating or cooling load for major eastern energy markets. New England is expected to have 44 total degree days (DD), or 69 fewer than normal. The Mid-Atlantic, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, is forecast to see only 38 DD, or 60 fewer than its seasonal tally. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is predicted to have 66 DD, or 39 less than its seasonal norm.

Mild conditions may be the rule in the Lower 48, but it's a different story in Canada.

"Since the first of the month, the weather in Calgary has been well below normal for this time of year," said EnergyGPS in a Monday morning note to clients. "In fact, we have seen over half the days this month recording double-digit below normal average temperatures.

"This type of deviation from normal in Calgary and other parts of Alberta has impacted the demand in the region as we have seen last week average around 4.7 Bcf. This is roughly 0.7 Bcf higher than last year's October average and just over 0.5 Bcf from last month's average.

"From a price perspective, the increased demand has helped keep AECO pricing strong to where it is trading within a couple of pennies of Empress and actually clearing in the $2.30 level the last week or so."

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