Heat Lingers But Loses Price-Supporting Touch
The national heat wave continued through Friday into the
weekend, and electric utilities continued to use appeals for
customer conservation and other demand-side management tools to
keep juice flowing as needed. But the heavy cooling load lost its
ability to keep cash gas prices moving higher. Instead, most points
were about a dime or more down in flows for the last day of July,
and although quotes for Sunday and Monday tended to surpass those
for Saturday, they still were below monthly indexes. Sources cited
the usual drop in weekend demand, a small screen decrease and
forecasts that major market areas will have cooled off a bit by
today as reasons for the softness.
The aftermarket saw another schizophrenic beginning since the
weekend bridged the monthly divide, and there was no consensus
whatever on price direction. Some sources reported distinctive
differences between Saturday-only and Sunday-Monday numbers, while
others said there was no significant movement between the two
periods. And just to twist matters further, most Calgary traders
were doing their deals through Tuesday because of today being
Canada's Civic Holiday.
One aggregator found its weekend quotes ranging from flat at
Northeast citygates between the Saturday and Sunday-Monday periods,
while Gulf Coast numbers averaged 3-10 cents higher for
Sunday-Monday than on Saturday. But marketers in both the
Midcontinent and Southwest said there was little if any appreciable
difference in their prices over the entire weekend, and a couple of
sources said Saturday deals commanded at least a small premium due
to the approaching break in the heat.
Divided opinion also surfaced in market expectations for the
first week of August. A marketer expects prices to remain
relatively weaker due to power loads being "way off." But while
another trader conceded that the heat wave will be considerably
milder this week, he added, "At least 'this one' [heat wave] will,"
meaning that it will be August and another siege of intense hot
weather is bound to be just around the corner.
The first two months of 1999's hurricane season have ended with
no Atlantic storm activity of any significance to gas production.
Such a lack of early storms is normal, one forecasting service
said. Last year the quiet period lasted until September, when the
season made up for lost time with approximately a hurricane a week.
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