This week’s modest rise in cooling load was unable to counter the negative influences of a prior-day screen drop of 16 cents and continuing warnings of potential severe price weakness down the road due to rapidly dwindling storage injection capacity. The result was cash price declines across the board Tuesday.
In fact, power generation demand for air conditioning purposes was disappearing in the Northeast, where a highly unseasonable nor’easter storm was due to limit wind-chilled highs to the 60s Wednesday, The Weather Channel (TWC) said.
The degrees of decline were fairly consistent across geographic market areas Tuesday as prices fell between about a dime and 45 cents.
Prospects for a cash price rally in the near term are dim. July futures slid another 7.8 cents Tuesday, and although cooling load is fairly strong from the desert Southwest through the western half of the South and in the southern Plains, it is still relatively light at the South’s eastern end and light to nearly nonexistent from the Pacific Northwest through the Midwest. Of course, it has gone AWOL in the Northeast.
Despite Florida Gas Transmission keeping an Overage Alert Day in place through at least Tuesday, quotes declined nearly 30 cents in Florida Gas Zones 2 and 3.
A western marketer reported seeing rather tight trading ranges at several points. Sumas “has really gotten discounted” in recent days compared to Opal and Northwest-domestic numbers, he said. Sumas printed high at first Tuesday but came down a lot subsequently, he added. If it weren’t for storage buying, “Sumas would be a dog” of a pricing point because there’s almost no current-burn demand in the Pacific Northwest, the marketer said.
He said he is having a hard time accepting that the screen is still as high as $6.38. Given bearish weather and storage fundamentals, it shouldn’t be that high, he said. The marketer said he follows an old adage: “Sell the hype,” adding, “If it was my money, I would gamble on the short side.” He doesn’t anticipate any cash rally in the near term, saying it’s going to take a major heat wave or an early hurricane to turn the market around.
A utility buyer in the South said his company isn’t seeing very much power generation load at this point because local temperatures are dropping into the 60s at night. That will change when it gets hotter around early next week, though, he said. So far in June the utility is running above average on its storage injection schedule, the buyer said.
In its forecast for the June 12-16 workweek, the National Weather Service (NWS) expects above normal temperatures in virtually all of the Southeast except Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and the northern portions of Louisiana and Mississippi. Above normal readings are also due in the southern half of Texas and nearly all of the desert Southwest, along with the Pacific Northwest as far south as the northern end of California and northwest Nevada, NWS said. It predicts below normal conditions throughout the Northeast except for New Jersey and southern Pennsylvania; throughout the Midwest except for the southern edges of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; and in the Plains states as far south as southern Kansas and Missouri.
Analyst Ron Denhardt of Strategic Energy & Economic Research predicts a storage injection of 87 Bcf for the week ending June 2.
Citigroup’s Tim Evans projected a 95-105 Bcf range for the storage build. Evans noted that some forecast models allow for a low-pressure system in the northwestern Caribbean Sea to develop into a hurricane that might threaten Louisiana, but acknowledged that the National Hurricane Center considers upper-level winds unfavorable for even tropical storm development. “The [futures] market clearly sided with the government on this one, probing the downside and finishing lower on the day,” Evans said.
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