Despite modestly weaker futures guidance (down 2.6 cents on the previous Friday), the cash market recovered to a large extent Monday from major softness late last week. Gains highly dominated numbers that seldom varied more than a few pennies up or down from unchanged.
Some cooling load was starting to surface, with highs on either side of 90 being forecast for Tuesday across the South, although the normal hot spot of Phoenix in the desert Southwest was expected to be limited to around 80. Even Chicago in the Midwest had a forecasted high of 80 for Tuesday, which was likely to be welcomed by GasMart attendees after recent chilly temperatures in the Windy City.
The Midcontinent and Rockies had the bulk of double-digit gains in pricing that overall ranged from flat to about 20 cents higher. Scattered instances of softness showed losses from 2-3 cents to nearly a dime.
After spending part of the morning in positive territory, June futures had negative guidance for Tuesday cash trading after finishing 8.1 cents lower Monday (see related story).
It was unlikely to create any significant amount of heating demand, but temperatures were due to recede a bit in the Northeast. Mostly minor warming trends in the Midwest would leave that region mostly in comfortable mid-spring conditions.
Following an unusually warm weekend, the Rockies forecast called for cooler conditions, with the Denver low falling to only a few degrees above freezing. However, the general western forecast was for moderate to cool temperatures.
High-linepack OFOs in California disappeared during the weekend. IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) said after slipping about 35 cents Friday, Southern California border quotes were back up nearly a dime Monday, but volumes there on its online platform only increased from 551,800 MMBtu to 591,100 MMBtu. Meanwhile, PG&E citygate numbers were up about 4 cents on ICE but trading activity had skyrocketed from 981,300 MMBtu going into the weekend to 1,447,000 MMBtu Monday.
A Rockies producer was still marveling at the price crash late last week in both the futures and cash markets, remarking, "Wow, what a week!" The "stars" were lining up and almost predictable, he said, but he didn't think the plunge was going to be so big following the storage report. He expected rising temperatures in Oklahoma to be boosting gas demand this week from such utilities as Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Public Service of Oklahoma.
The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count found an increase of eight drilling rigs (to 890) targeting U.S. natural gas during the week ending May 6. One rig was deactivated in the Gulf of Mexico, Baker Hughes said, but nine were added onshore. Its latest tally was flat from a month ago and 7% lower than the year-earlier level.
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