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California Gains Boost NatGas Cash; Futures Head South

Physical natural gas for Tuesday delivery gained more than a dime in Monday's trading as outsized advances in the Northeast, Rockies and California were able to easily offset losses in the Southeast and more modest gains in Texas and Louisiana. The NGI National Spot Gas Average rose by 12 cents to $2.59.

Futures trading, however, was a different story. Trading in August futures opened up on a positive note but selling pressure emerged, and at the end of the day August had dropped 9.9 cents to $2.702, and September had shed 10.4 cents to $2.684. August crude oil fell 65 cents to $44.76/bbl.

California and the West Coast harbored some of the day's strongest market points as upstream maintenance limited supplies flowing south from Canada.

"The lines exporting gas out of Canada that drop into Kingsgate fell by .4 Bcf/d,” said EnergyGPS principal Jeff Richter. "That gas is then picked up by Northwest Pipeline." Tuesday exports are seen dropping by .7 Bcf/d, while Monday’s Malin price "went up by 20 cents to $2.74. PG&E just followed suit. It had nothing to do with California. It was all derived from upstream maintenance." Tuesday and Wednesday "will see the biggest impacts."

In addition to Malin, gas at the PG&E Citygate vaulted 25 cents to $2.94, and deliveries to the SoCal Citygate added 13 cents to $2.76. Gas priced at the SoCal Border Average rose 18 cents to $2.79, and packages on El Paso S. Mainline/N. Baja added 20 cents to $2.82.

If upstream maintenance were not enough, another PG&E storage facility has been shut down because of leaks.

"PG&E's McDonald Island storage facility, the second largest in California by working capacity after the presently shuttered Aliso Canyon, has been temporarily taken out of service following the discovery of a gas leak," Genscape Inc. reported Monday. "The McDonald Island storage facility, located 35 miles south of Sacramento and 55 miles northeast of San Francisco, represents roughly 80% of PG&E's system-wide storage capacity."

Other market hubs also posted solid gains. Gas at the Chicago Citygate gained 11 cents to $2.77, and deliveries to Transco Zone 4 tacked on 8 cents to $2.82. Gas at Opal changed hands 19 cents higher at $2.69, and Kern Delivery was up 22 cents to $2.81.

Other market centers were not as fortunate and set new 30-day lows. Gas on Dominion North dipped a penny under its 30-day low of $1.37, and Dominion South fell 3 cents under its 30-day low of $1.38. Tennessee Zone 4 313 Pool was quoted at $1.55, down 2 cents, and Tennessee Zn 4 Marcellus came in 4 cents less than its 30-day low of $1.33.

Weather models continued to call for above-normal heat.

"The main narrative [Monday] morning is that the overall national pattern is still tracking hotter than normal than last year and against the 10-year running mean," Commodity Weather Group President Matt Rogers said in a Monday report. However, the same-day demand comparisons, which include Energy Information Administration week and next week "are lower than Friday's views.

"Most of those cooler changes seem to occur in the six-10 day where we have a lot more near-normal temperatures for the Midwest and East, but we also have cooler weather in the West at times too. The South maintains some anomalous heat in the six-10 day, but then the focus of hottest anomalies shifts toward the North Central U.S. in the 11-15 day.”

Near-term cooling load is also expected to be above normal in major energy markets. The National Weather Service reported that for the week ended July 16, New England would see 61 cooling degree days (CDD), or 20 more than normal, and the Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania should endure 69 CDD, or 13 more than its normal tally. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is anticipated to experience 73 CDD, or 17 more than normal.

Risk managers suggested protective strategies for physical market longs utilizing an options strategy rather than futures. DEVO Capital Management President Mike DeVooght advised trading accounts and end-users to stand aside the market. Producers, however, are advised to utilize options holding an August 2016-July 2017 put option and sell a $3.50 call option against it at even money. DeVooght also suggested holding a $2.75 put and selling a $3.75 call option paying 7 cents.

"On a trading basis now that we have seen the short-covering rally we thought was possible, we feel current levels represent attractive levels for producers to start to establish forward sales," he said in a weekend note to clients. “But since we are not that bearish, we would establish hedges with either floors or collars."

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