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NatGas Cash Flat, Futures Ease As Tropical Activity Increases

Physical natural gas for Wednesday delivery was unchanged and futures slipped lower Tuesday as the cash market was torn between strong pricing along the Eastern Seaboard and weak pricing in the Rockies and California.

The NGI National Spot Gas Average remained flat at $2.74 as the Northeast and Appalachia were able to counter soft western prices.

Futures wallowed in a 4 cent range as traders saw the market continuing in range-bound trading, but hinted that an attempt to close over $3 might be in the cards. At the close September had fallen 2.4 cents to $2.935 and October had given up 2.4 cents as well to $2.965. September crude oil fell 4 cents to $47.55/bbl.

Healthy next-day power pricing gave buyers of incremental gas for power generation a shot in the arm. Intercontinental Exchange reported on-peak power at the ISO New England's Massachusetts Hub rose $5.25 to $37.93/MWh and on-peak power at the PJM West terminal added $4.82 to $37.74/MWh. Power delivered to the Indiana Hub gained $6.89 to $36.92/MWh.

Gas bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 added 5 cents to $2.87, but deliveries to the Algonquin Citygate rose 28 cents to $2.80. Tetco M-3 Delivery fetched $1.93, up 8 cents and gas on Dominion South rose 5 cents to $1.85.

Deliveries to the Chicago Citygate were quoted unchanged at $2.88 and packages at the Henry Hub came in 3 cents lower at $2.93. Gas on El Paso Permian shed 8 cents to $2.56, and gas priced at the NGPL Midcontinent Pool slid 3 cents to $2.65.

At Opal next-day deliveries were quoted 8 cents lower at $2.58 and packages on Transwestern San Juan changed hands 6 cents less at $2.58. Gas at Malin was seen at $2.63, down 7 cents and deliveries priced at the SoCal Border Average fell 8 cents to $2.67.

At 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported Hurricane Gert was located 420 miles west of Bermuda and was holding winds of 70 mph. It was moving to the north northeast at 15 mph and a gradual turn to the northeast was expected.

NHC also said it was monitoring two more tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin. At 2 p.m. NHC reported an elongated system of showers and thundershowers more than 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It was traveling 15 to 20 mph to the west and NHC gave the probability of tropical storm formation in the next 5 days at 40%.

A second area of low pressure several hundred miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands was moving to the west northwest at 15-20 mph and NHC gave its likelihood of tropical storm formation in the next 5 days also at 40%.

The recent spate of activity underscores earlier predictions as meteorologists see the Southeast as vulnerable to tropical activity. "We think that the areas that are more vulnerable this year are still the Gulf Coast and along the Carolina coast," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center in a forecast issued prior to June 1, the start of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, said it expected above-normal activity, with 11-17 named storms, five to nine of them becoming hurricanes, include two to four major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

In an extended range forecast released in April, scientists at Colorado State University said they expected slightly below-average activity in the Atlantic Basin this year, with 11 named storms, of which four are expected to become hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.

And AccuWeather meteorologists previously said they expect 10 named storms in the Atlantic this year, of which five could become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. Up until now, despite the presaging of Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed in April, the Atlantic hurricane season has been a relatively quiet one. In June, Tropical Storm Cindy made some noise in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), prompting the temporary evacuation of dozens of production platforms and shutting in more than 15% of GOM oil production. 

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