Mostly small losses continued Thursday at nearly all points. Not much heating load remains in any market area; the South is only gradually building up to some significant cooling demand, and a minimal amount of the previously estimated potential quarter Bcf/d of South Louisiana shut-ins due to flooding is occurring.
Several flat points in the Rockies and Northeast, along with a minuscule 2-cent gain by Southern Star Central in the Midcontinent, ran against the overall market grain in which losses ranged from 2-3 cents to nearly 15 cents. Waha in West Texas and the three key trading points in Western Canada garnered most of the double-digit declines.
The Energy Information Administration said 92 Bcf was taken out of storage in the week ending May 13, which was barely above consensus estimates on either side of 90 Bcf. Nymex traders had a predictably bearish reaction since the volume exceeded the year-earlier build of 78 Bcf and the five-year average of 91 Bcf, and they pushed June futures 10.4 cents lower on the day (see related story).
The cash market is currently in a very quiet shoulder month period, with only minimal weather-based demand, little futures influence and no significant transportation constraints pulling it in either direction.
Moderation is the dominant weather outlook these days, with only a few mountainous parts of the Rockies region due to get as low as the upper 30s Friday. Highs from the low 60s through the low 70s are getting more common from the Midwest through the Northeast. Temperatures are gradually rising throughout the South, but other than in Florida and Texas they have yet to spur major air conditioning demand.
Near-term chances for increased cooling load are fairly good as the National Weather Service predicts above-normal temperatures during the latter half of next week all along the East Coast and extending along the Gulf Coast through South Texas.
In an unusual late-afternoon notification, SoCalGas declared a high-linepack OFO for Friday with a 10% tolerance for positive daily imbalances. The e-mail notice came far too late to affect that day's cash trading, in which Southern California border quotes dropped about a nickel.
Despite Henry Hub quotes falling about a nickel, its trading on the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) platform rose from 516,100 MMBtu Wednesday to 590,100 MMBtu Thursday.
However, ICE said the Chicago citygate, which also dropped a nickel or so, declined from 688,400 MMBtu to 603,900 MMBtu in ICE activity.
A Midcontinent producer said muggy conditions and area highs in the 80s weren't doing anything to boost regional gas prices, noting that several Midcontinent pipes have slipped below the $4 level. Panhandle Eastern has had some of the weakest numbers recently, he said. The producer said he expects current pricing to stay much the same heading into the June bidweek starting next week.
A Midwest marketer said "a little" heating load still lingered in her area as temperatures remained cooler than expected, but a warming trend through the weekend should have all local furnaces idled by the start of next week.
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