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Northeast Spikes Contrast With Near-Flat Quotes

Northeast price spikes had some citygates in the region averaging more than $6 Tuesday amid a generally little-changed cash market. The tropical storm factor, which never was significant anyway, continued to fade into the open Atlantic, but very hot forecasts in many areas remained a constant for gas prices.

A few small declines of up to a nickel or so, along with a bunch of near-flat locations, mixed with gains ranging from 2-3 cents to nearly $1.30. Other than the Northeast, only MRT experienced a rise of more than single digits.

Following a neutral signal from flat futures on Monday, Nymex had slightly negative guidance for Wednesday's cash trading in falling 1.3 cents (see related story).

Tropical Storm Bret remained very much a nonevent for the gas market as it continued to head north-northeastward into the open Atlantic Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center said Bret was expected to remain well out to sea from the East Coast.

With the day's biggest increase by far, the Transco Zone 6-New York pool continued to further blow out its basis spread from a flat Henry Hub to nearly $2.15.

Despite highs nearing 100 later this week in the Northeast, as of Tuesday only Tennessee was acting to stanch issues with low linepack (see Transportation Notes).

Other than generally cool to mild temperatures continuing to reign from Western Canada through the Pacific Northwest and along much of the California coast, most other market areas -- including some parts of Eastern Canada -- can expect highs Tuesday ranging from either side of 90 to throughout the 100s. There's no doubt that most gas-fired generation units are running full-out.

Even the previously cool West Coast is starting to warm a little. For instance, Los Angeles temperatures are starting to peak in the mid 80s these days after a long period of highs on either side of 70.

Although Westcoast still had a high-linepack OFO in effect, Westcoast Station 2 had one of the largest increases outside the Northeast in rallying by about C15 cents.

A Northeast marketer said a lot of gas-fired generation appeared to be already running 24 hours a day even though temperatures in the 100-degree area weren't due to arrive until nearer the weekend. After all, there's only a limited amount of pipeline capacity into the region, so some traders are already building inventories in preparation, he said. He reported seeing reports of Thursday prices for power at $135/MWh in New England, adding that was pretty pricey electricity.

A marketer in the Upper Midwest said her area's warmest day of the week was likely to be Thursday with highs in the mid 90s. It should be slightly milder later, she said, with most of the intense heat concentrated in the lower Midwest. Her company is just buying little bits of spot gas for now while watching the prices and hoping for them to move lower, she said.

Credit Suisse analyst Stefan Revielle said he expects a 62 Bcf storage injection to be reported for the week ending July 15. Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates anticipates a significantly lower build of 52 Bcf, which he said was down from an original estimate of 57 Bcf.

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