Friday's cash trading activity was largely a repeat of that on Thursday: mixed price movement with most points averaging flat or only a few pennies up or down and small gains handily outweighing small losses. Frigid weather outside the South and a five-trading day streak of prior futures advances (which barely got extended by 2.8 cents Friday) were the chief impetus for overall slight firmness.
Only one Gulf Coast point (Florida Gas Zone 2 in Louisiana) was up much more than a dime, and a large majority of Friday's increases were in single digits. Iroquois Zone 2's drop of about 20 cents topped the losses, which occurred primarily at points in the West and Northeast and like the gains were mostly in single digits.
Storminess was expected to be widespread over the weekend and would bring heavy snow to much of the Midwest and later to the Northeast, according to The Weather Channel (TWC). The South was due to remain fairly mild going into the weekend, but a cold front would take regional temperatures lower by Sunday, TWC said. Meanwhile in the West, the central U.S. storm would cause blizzard conditions in eastern Colorado Saturday, and snowfalls would be expanding from the northern Rockies into the central Rockies over the weekend, the forecaster added.
CIG fell about a nickel despite the pipeline warning of a weekend winter storm watch for the southeast Colorado plains. CIG expressed concern that its ability to absorb imbalances related to underdeliveries at receipt points or overpulls at delivery points "will be limited to a significant degree." It mentioned potential wellhead freeze-offs as a factor in its working with shippers to keep imbalances in check.
A producer reported seeing a lot of buying in NGPL's TexOk zone, which he suspected was mostly for storage injections. The transportation spread to Chicago from TexOk was working well, he said.
The producer said he was getting quite a bit of March business done before the weekend. He reported doing MichCon basis at plus 12.25 cents, and said a citygate fixed-price deal was in the upper $7.70s. Panhandle Eastern traded at index minus 3 cents, he said. He sold a Chicago citygate package destined for the Nicor system at the NGI index plus a nickel and bought at index plus 3 cents at NIPSCO. Nicor still commands a small premium for Chicago-area citygates because it tends to restrict deliveries more often than the others, he said.
The producer also quoted basis for NGPL-Midcontinent at minus a penny and for Transco Zone 6 non-New York City at plus 59 cents. In general, MichCon basis got a little stronger Friday but indexed deals were slightly weaker, he said.
In contrast to the producer, a Northeast marketer said he hasn't seen very much March trading getting done yet. Befitting its being the first shoulder month of the year, March should see relatively light baseload volumes, he said. The daily market was "very quiet," he said, with prices mostly flat to slightly higher.
A Calgary-based producer also perceived a quiet spot market, although he used the term "uneventful." NOVA Inventory Transfer is looking pretty strong for March at basis of minus US78 cents, he said. That kind of pricing won't cover variable transport costs to California, the producer said, so a lot of Alberta production likely will stay home next month. He traded Malin at basis of minus 47 cents Friday, which he said was about flat from Thursday. In fact, it appeared to him that March prices in general were moving very little in the first two days of bidweek.
The number of drilling rigs actively searching for gas in the United States dropped by one to 1,472 in the week ending Feb. 23, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count (http://intelligencepress.com/features/bakerhughes/). However, rigs drilling for gas in the Gulf of Mexico increased by one to 82, the company said.
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