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East, West Coasts Take Biggest Physical NatGas Price Hits; November Adds 3 Cents

Mild temperature regimes on each coast were enough to keep buyers on the bench Tuesday, and next-day physical gas prices fell the most on the East and West coasts.

Other market points from the Marcellus to the Rockies saw prices move just a few pennies of either side of unchanged. The NGI National Spot Gas Average fell 4 cents to $2.31, and a steady to lower next-day power environment also was little incentive to make incremental purchases. At the close of futures trading, November had managed to gain 3.4 cents to $2.476 and December had advanced 1.4 cents to $2.671. The expired November crude oil contract settled at $45.55/bbl, down 34 cents.

Midday weather updates Tuesday provided a plethora of data but nothing in the way of major changes until next month. A ridge of high pressure is expected to settle in over the East and along with it very mild temperatures. Next-day gas prices moved little.

"Fresh midday weather data continues streaming in and there's a few minor differences showing up, although not until the first week of November," said Natgasweather.com in a noon update. "Until then, high pressure will rapidly build over the eastern U.S. the next few days, with highs again warming into the 70s from Chicago to NYC, easing heating demand back to below normal levels. We are still expecting a weather system to track across the extreme northern U.S. Thursday and Friday with only a minor cool-down for the Great Lakes and interior Northeast Friday."

Gas at the Algonquin Citygate plunged $1.29 to $3.65, and gas on Tenn Zone 6 200L shed $1.07 to $3.55.

Intercontinental Exchange reported that on-peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub dropped $10.09 to $44.12/MW, and on-peak power at the PJM West Hub weakened $1.11 to $35.79/MWh. .

AccuWeather.com forecast that Boston's high of 65 Tuesday would ease to 60 Wednesday and jump back to 70 on Thursday, 2 degrees above normal. Philadelphia's 69 high Tuesday was expected to make it to 74 Wednesday before rising again to 75 Thursday, 10 degrees above normal.

Next-day gas on Texas Eastern M-3, Delivery shed a dime to $1.78, and gas headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 fell 13 cents to $2.29.

Soft power and temperate weather also pummeled West Coast prices. AccuWeather.com predicted that Tuesday's high in Los Angeles of 81 would rise to 83 Wednesday before dropping to 78 Thursday, the seasonal norm. San Francisco's 73 high Tuesday was seen holding Wednesday before easing to 70 Thursday, 1 degree above normal.

Next-day deliveries to Malin added a penny to $2.30, and parcels at the PG&E Citygate were unchanged at $2.91. Gas at the SoCal Citygate, however, plunged 16 cents to $2.53, and gas at the SoCal Border Avg. fell a dime to $2.40. Gas on El Paso S. Mainline/N. Baja skidded 9 cents to $2.40.

Intercontinental Exchange said on-peak power at SP-15 rose 49 cents to $34.45/MWh, and power at Palo Verde eased 11 cents to $25.80/MWh. Wednesday on-peak power at COB fell 41 cents to $25.43/MWh.

Analysts see a looming 4 Tcf ending storage inventory as weighing on prices. "[M]any views are advising a return to a broad-based slightly above normal temperature pattern that could return by late next week with extension into early November," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Tuesday morning report to clients. "The market also appears to be pricing in a storage injection on Thursday that won't vary far from normal or average increases near the mid-80 Bcf area.

"But even allowing for a stall in the expansion of the supply surplus, we still see achievement of a record 4 Bcf level during the first half of next month that could place renewed pressures on the spread curve in forcing nearby values into new low territory. Average weekly injections of only around 66 Bcf will be required during the coming four weeks to achieve 4 Tcf and current temperature views would appear accommodating in this regard."

Longer term, weather forecasts were only slightly changed overnight. "Mixed changes are noted [Tuesday] with relatively small stuff compared to yesterday's bigger weekend adjustments," said Commodity Weather Group in its Tuesday morning report to clients. "The East Coast is generally slightly cooler, while California is warmer to hotter in the six-10 day range. The Midwest is slightly warmer early in the six-10 day and then stronger with cooling by late. The 11-15 day is cooler early and then progresses a bit warmer later.

"Overnight model consensus sees slight demand gain: The American and Canadian ensembles were net cooler overnight with demand gains while the European was slightly warmer (although still cooler than 24 hours ago)," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.

In major energy markets the focus is now entirely on heating requirements, and if forecasts by the National Weather Service (NWS) are correct for the week ended Oct. 24, significant heating load has yet to appear. NWS forecasts that New England should see 124 HDDs or six above normal, and the Mid-Atlantic is expected to endure 97 HDD or five below normal. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is expected to experience just 66 HDD or 43 below normal.

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