Midcontinent/Midwest Softest in Mostly Flat Market
The cash market entered one of its leveling-off phases Thursday
with flat prices prevailing at a majority of points. A little early
strength on the futures screen helped buoy physical gas at first,
but toward the end of the morning cash numbers were following the
screen lower "step for step," a Gulf Coast producer said. Once
again there was essentially nothing to influence trading beside the
screen, she added, dismissing the AGA storage report Wednesday
afternoon as a non-event.
Most of the softness was concentrated in the
Midcontinent/Midwest region, which was losing any vestiges of
heating load that might have been lingering before Thursday.
Northern Natural Gas points fell almost a nickel.
A marketer quoting only one fixed price for the day thought his
$2.255 purchase into Trunkline-East Louisiana was a little on the
expensive side because of a capacity curtailment. The pipeline took
its offshore T25 platform out of service Thursday for an
undetermined period of maintenance on the fuel system piping.
However, Trunkline said, although offshore producers may experience
daily pressure fluctuations during the work, it did not qualify as
a force majeure for daily scheduling penalties.
One of the day's widest ranges came at Northwest-Sumas, where
late trades plunged from earlier levels. A marketer who started the
day with a $2.10 Sumas deal saw his last purchase slide to $1.94,
saying demand diminished quickly due to warming weather in the
Pacific Northwest. It's obvious that late mountain snowmelt is
still delaying the onset of what is expected to be copious
hydropower, he said; many of the buyers at Sumas Thursday were
power generators. But the marketer doesn't expect a steep plunge in
gas prices when the hydro finally arrives. There is still plenty of
room for putting gas into storage because injections in the
Northwest have been delayed this spring, he said.
A couple of sources reporting another "quiet" day of trading
activity were hopeful that the market will liven up a bit as
bidweek gets nearer. A marketer reporting June basis of plus 5-5.25
for Chicago citygates and minus 4 for NGPL-Louisiana said he was
seeing "normal spreads so far."
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