Natural gas for weekend and Monday delivery fell hard in Friday's trading as forecasts for mild weather proliferated in major population centers and traders saw little need to commit to three-day deals.
All but two points followed by NGI fell into the loss column, and the NGI National Spot Gas Average dropped 15 cents to $1.60. Losses in the East reached well over 20 cents. Futures struggled as well, with the spot May contract slumping 6.8 cents to $1.902 and June dropping 6.6 cents to $1.997. May crude oil tumbled $1.14 to $40.36 ahead of the weekend OPEC meeting.
Several points in the Gulf Coast and Midcontinent traded below their 30-day lows. Gas at Katy changed hands at $1.68, 7 cents below its 30-day low, and packages on Florida Gas Zone 3 were a dime under their 30-day minimum at $1.68 as well.
In the Midwest and Midcontinent, gas at the Chicago Citygate was 11 cents lower than its 30-day minimum at $1.68, and gas on Northern Natural Ventura ducked 15 cents under its minimum at $1.55. Deliveries to Panhandle Eastern were seen 2 cents below its 30-day minimum at $1.52.
Gas at the PG&E Citygates was quoted two cents under its 30-day minimum at $1.83.
To the north, gas at AECO/NOVA has been in decline since early 2014, but in Friday's trading recorded an all-time record low of C$0.88/GJ.
"There's so much gas in storage and the temps are mild, and there is no reason to purchase natural gas," said an industry pipeline veteran. "Our market focus going forward is demand and power load. We need to get some power plants ramped up and out of maintenance."
Gas westbound on REX out of the Marcellus lost ground in the day's trading, but deliveries to Midwest interconnects fell more as the market continued its trend of normalization.
To the west, REX interconnects with NGPL, Trunkline and Midwestern gave up more ground. Deliveries to NGPL at Moultrie Country, IL, lost 14 cents to $1.61, and gas delivered to Trunkline at Douglas Country, IL, fell 12 cents to $1.63. Gas on Midwestern at Edgar County, IL, retreated 13 cents to $1.62.
Gas buyers tasked with securing weekend supplies for power generation across the MISO footprint may have an easy time of it as moderating temperatures and strong wind generation are forecast to affect the area. WSI Corp. in its Friday morning six- to 10-day outlook said, "A south-southeast flow around the western periphery of high pressure will support a warming trend during the next couple of days. Highs temps will top out in the upper 50s, 60s and 70s. However, a wave of low pressure will lead to clouds and periods of rain across MISO South (Entergy).
"Eventually, a frontal boundary and a slow-moving upper-level system over the Plains will introduce a chance of showers during the end of the weekend into early next week, which will scale back some of the warmth. A fluctuating southerly wind will support strong wind generation during the next couple of days. Output will peak 8-10 GW, and wind gen will likely subside Sunday into early next week."
Looking beyond the weekend, WSI said, "the six-10 day period forecast features widespread above to much above average anomalies, except for portions of New England and South Texas. [Friday's] forecast is generally warmer than yesterday's forecast over the eastern two-thirds. CONUS and GWHDDs are down 4.1 and are forecast to be 21.4 for the period. PWCDDs are up to 11."
That warming trend and beyond "will be translating to some normalized injections beyond next week's release that will maintain a huge supply cushion at this early stage of the injection cycle," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a Friday morning note to clients. "In addition to some additional production decline, this market may require some supply disruptions or an early start to a hot summer if storage overcrowding is to be precluded. We agree with the EIA's projected end-of-season supply in excess of 4.1 Bcf by the beginning of November, a record high. With such a stock capable of meeting even the strongest of winter requirements, buying activity going forward will continue to be quelled until summer weather forecasts and hurricane activity acquires some clarity."
Much of the oversupply is located near the Henry Hub, bringing additional price pressure. "Meanwhile, gas supplies in the futures-related South Central region increased a further 17 Bcf last week in contrast to declining trends in most other regions. South Central supply currently accounts for an unusually large 45% of total U.S. storage. This represents a potential bearish consideration to the physical market, in our view, that could force renewed significant expansion in the spread carrying charges, especially if the speculative community charges back into the short side of the liquid nearby futures or ETFs such as DGAZ."