Feeding on recent futures strength and slight cooling trends in northern market areas, prices ranged from flat to about 40 cents higher at a large majority of points Wednesday. Texas Eastern-Kosciusko in the Gulf Coast and Transco Zone 6-New York City were the only contrarian points to see modest losses of up to a nickel.
This week's moderation of eastern weather may not allow Wednesday's rally to continue, but Thursday's cash market will continue to have prior-day futures support after the March natural gas contract tacked on another 6.1 cents.
Gulf Coast quotes managed to rise despite Thursday weather in the South that is due to feel more like mid-spring than late February. But most of their advance was based on rising heating load in the Northeast and Midwest, where what The Weather Channel called a "clipper storm" will be bringing snow and colder temperatures to the regions. Highs around the Great Lakes area won't get above the 20s and 30s Thursday, the forecaster said. Snow is also in the forecast for mountainous areas of the West.
What a difference a week and a change in weather can make. On Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the height of a frigid winter storm period in the Northeast, Transco Zone 6-NYC was priced at a $10-plus premium to Henry Hub. But on Wednesday of this week, with the Big Apple due to see a high around 45 degrees Thursday, the differential had shrunk radically to about 70 cents.
The market is "pretty quiet" as the March bidweek nears, a Northeast marketer said. He thought cash prices rose at most points chiefly due to firmness in March futures being extended into a third straight trading day Wednesday, but he acknowledged that market-area heating load also is getting a little boost. He noted that the market got through last week's severe cold without any major transportation hassles, and of course the pipelines are wide open by now and open again to repaying due-shipper imbalances.
A Calgary-based producer noted the forecast for a stormy Midwest and said the influx of colder weather the storms would bring was responsible for Chicago citygates moving about 20 cents higher. He wasn't aware of any regional transportation constraints other than restricted Chicago-area takeaway capacity on Vector for the trip to Dawn.
March is very much a low-demand period for his company, a Southwest utility buyer said. Nevertheless, he has contracted for some baseload gas in March, saying he "locked it up" earlier this month at a San Juan-Blanco index plus a quarter. "We're waiting for summer" when power demand will pick up hugely, the buyer said.
Ron Denhardt of Strategic Energy & Economic Research looks for a 225 Bcf storage withdrawal to be reported for the week ending Feb. 16. Bentek Energy expects a pull of 229 Bcf.
Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report
may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any
form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.