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California Strength Lifts Physical NatGas; Futures Add 9 Cents

Physical natural gas for delivery Tuesday was on the rise on Monday aided by a strong screen and double-digit gains at western points prompted by maintenance events. At most market points, gains of a nickel or more were registered and only a few points fell into the loss column.

A one-day maintenance effort on a northern California pipeline helped lift prices at Malin, but commensurate gains were also seen at southern California points. The NGI National Spot Gas Average rose 10 cents to $2.48 and, not to be outdone, the September futures rose a healthy 9.5 cents to $2.679, while October added 8.2 cents to $2.701. The expiring September crude oil contract went out on a wing and a prayer losing $1.47 to $47.05/bbl.

Prices at Malin spiked as Ruby pipeline cut deliveries for Tuesday. "The reduction is 422 MMcf for tomorrow and it's a one-day outage," said a spokesman for EnergyGPS, a Portland,OR-based risk management and consulting firm. "This will only last one day."

"Tuesday is the big maintenance event on Ruby and it only equals one cycle. There is also a maintenance issue on [Transcanada] GTN line that is lasting through the end of the month, and the rating of the line went from 2.73 Bcf to 2.48 Bcf. It's a combination of the Ruby maintenance and the GTN maintenance."

Deliveries at Malin jumped 43 cents to to $2.89, but gas at the PG&E Citygate rose 5 cents to $3.17.

Farther south gas at the SoCal Citygate rose 30 cents to $2.93 and gas priced at the SoCal Border Avg. Average rose 29 cents to $2.85. Deliveries on El Paso S. Mainline/N. Baja rose 31 cents to $2.90 and Kern Delivery was quoted 35 cents higher at $2.92.

Industry consultant Genscape reported that "[O]n Tuesday, SoCal will perform one day planned maintenance affecting Wheeler Ridge, decreasing its receipt capacity from PG&E by 150 MMcf/d or roughly the same amount that PG&E normally cuts for the Ruby maintenance."

CAISO forecast that peak power loads would rise from 36,757 MW Monday to 37,826 MW Tuesday.

Los Angeles' peak Monday was forecast at 84 degrees, but expected to ease to 81 Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 degrees below normal, according to AccuWeather.com. Sacramento's high of 88 Monday was seen rising to 89 Tuesday and 90 Wednesday, 1 degree below normal.

Major market hubs firmed. Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 rose a penny to $1.56 and deliveries to the Chicago Citygate changed hands 6 cents higher at 2.64. Gas at the Henry Hub rose 10 cents to $2.74 and packages on El Paso Permian gained 9 cents as well to $2.51

Futures traders saw the day's advance as weather-driven. "We've got hotter weather coming into play, and the market held [$2.50] well," said a New York floor trader. "The lean is more towards weather than the storms."

"Through the weekend we saw modest tightening of weather-adjusted burns despite production remaining quite elevated, and this tightening should be enough to continue to support prices when combined with medium-term forecast heat," said Harrison, NY-based Bespoke Weather Services in a Monday morning report.

"Far less bearish risk is seen when moving into the long term as well, especially when compared to late last week, and thus as concerns about heat easing have generally abated; much selling last week appeared to be due to concerns that a break in the heat would be sustained. Overnight we saw GFS [Global Forecast System] operational guidance remain relatively consistent, backing off its hot IVest run last evening but still showing demand above average in most of the medium and long-term.

"The GFS ensembles have trended in this direction as well, showing ridging across the East likely to keep temperatures there above average through most of the next 15 days.

At 5 PM EDT Monday the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Tropical Depression Fiona continued on its trajectory toward the west side of Bermuda and was 870 miles south southeast of Bermuda. It was traveling west-northwest at 17 mph, and maximum sustained winds were holding 35 mph.

NHC also identified a tropical wave 750 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, moving to the west at 15 to 20 mph. It was given a 20% chance of tropical storm development in the succeeding 48 hours.

There is also a third system, Tropical Depression 7, about 380 miles south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. NHC said it was holding 35 mph winds and moving to the west at 18 mph.

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