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NatGas Cash, Futures Part Ways, October Sheds A Dime

Physical natural gas for Wednesday delivery posted a hefty double digit gain with advances in the Northeast and Appalachia far outdistancing losses in California and soft pricing in Texas, Louisiana, the Midcontinent and Midwest.

California power loads backed off from the near record levels of Friday, yet vicious load-killing Hurricane Irma may be on a course towards Florida with its potential loss of energy demand. The NGI National Spot Gas Average rose 4 cents to $2.62.

Futures bulls were blindsided by overnight weather model runs showing unexpected moderation -- also due to likely impact of Irma -- and at the close October had dropped 9.8 cents to $2.972 and November had fallen 9.2 cents to $3.044. October crude oil rose $1.37 to $48.66/bbl.

Futures traders still see life in the market despite the day's setback. "The natural gas market is just hangin' around and of course it has everything to do with the weather," said a New York floor trader. "I thought the market should have been down around $2.62, but it stayed above $2.85, and it could possibly rally above $3.

"It's a long shot but it's still the build season and it’s working its way to the usage season. I haven't seen a summer like this with the market staying as strong as it has. It has shocked a lot of people, but there is still a lot of gas out there. It most likely fails at $2.98, and I would be a seller. Only for 3 or 4 cents, though, because I wouldn't stay short through a rally. It might come back to bite you."

The day's decline was the result of changes to the near-term outlooks. "Forecast changes were in the cooler direction and largely based on the increased probability for hurricane Irma to track toward the Southeast U.S.," said MDA Weather Services in its morning six- to 10-day report to clients. "Below normal temperatures are now forecast in result across the South and East, with changes from the Holiday report also being cooler from the Midwest to the East."

MDA cautioned that "there remains risk to the cool side of forecast in the Eastern Half and based on the GFS Ensemble model. In the West, the lingering influences from former tropical storm Lidia merging into the upper air pattern has changes being cooler here as well versus expectations from late last week.

"The risk lean is to the cool side based on the GFS model in the Eastern Half, but confidence is low due to lead time concerns in hurricane Irma's track. GFS is warmer in the Southwest/California."

In physical market trading prices soared at eastern points as constraints limited supply at a number of New England locations. Algonquin Gas Transmission said it has “restricted 100% of interruptible, secondary out of path and approximately 38% of secondary in path nominations sourced from points west of its Southeast Compressor Station for delivery east of Southeast. No increases in nominations sourced west of Southeast for delivery east of Southeast, except for Primary Firm No-Notice nominations, will be accepted,” the company said on its website.

Further restrictions were placed on flows in an out of its Oxford compressor station as well as the interconnect with Tennessee Gas Pipeline at Mendon and upstream of the G-System.

Gas at the Algonquin Citygate jumped 58 cents to $1.79 and deliveries to New York City via Transco Zone 6 rose 85 cents to $2.50. Packages on Tetco M-3 added 39 cents to $1.44 and gas priced at Dominion South rose 33 cents to $1.38.

Deliveries to the Chicago Citygate slipped a penny to $2.83 and gas at the Henry Hub shed 4 cents to $2.86. Gas priced at Transco Zone 4 fell 2 cents to $2.90 and on Northern Natural Demarcation Wednesday deliveries were quoted at $2.77, down 2 cents.

Next-day gas on the West Coast plunged as power loads were forecast to tumble. On Friday it looked like CAISO might set an all time record for power consumption, and late in the afternoon CAISO was still predicting a peak load of 50,812 MW, just ahead of the all time record of 50,270 MW of July 2006. 2006 still stands as record CAISO load, but load forecasts have dropped considerably since the weekend.

CAISO forecasts Tuesday's peak load at 41,637 MW and Wednesday is estimated at 40,284 MW.

Kern River came in at $2.64, down 7 cents, but Kern Delivery tumbled 33 cents to $2.99. Gas at the SoCal Citygate fell 44 cents to $3.37 and gas priced at the SoCal Border Average dropped 28 cents to $2.90.

In its 5 pm. EDT report the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said dangerous Category 5 Irma is about 210 miles east of Antigua and is heading toward the west near 15 mph, and this general motion was expected to continue Tuesday. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma was expected to move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night and early Wednesday, move near or over portions of the northern Virgin Islands Wednesday, and pass near or just north of Puerto Rico late Wednesday and Wednesday night, NHC said.

NHC said Tropical Depression 13 was situated in the western Gulf of Mexico with winds of 35 mph. It was moving to the east at 2 mph.

Tropical Storm Jose situated west of the Cabo Verde Islands was moving to the west at 12 mph and was holding winds of 45 mph.

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