Screen-Influenced Cash Increases Lowest in West
Though the May Henry Hub futures contract eventually settled for
a small gain of less than a penny, it was the screen's morning
flirtation with the $2.15-17 area that got most of the credit for a
strong performance Tuesday by the cash market. Cash rises tended to
fade out going westward to virtually nothing in California trading,
but virtually all eastern points were up at least a nickel and in
many cases saw increases approaching a dime.
With last week's western chill now fading into memory, buyers in
the region know there is plenty of supply available again, a
marketer said. That means a stronger early screen was essentially
the only thing keeping prices there from falling Tuesday, he added.
Two Gulf Coast producers disagreed on which way cash trading was
going as the session proceeded. One perceived some late strength
based on a short supply squeeze. She reported getting the sense
that buyers weren't finding suppliers quite as eager to sell as the
buyers would have liked. But the other producer said prices started
high and then fell off at the end. He expects prices to start
falling again soon, saying now-disappearing cold weather in the
West has been the main reason for April's price strength so far.
If gas prices get much higher than they are now, a northeastern
electric utility buyer seriously doubts whether she would make any
new purchases for May. Gas is getting very close to fuel oil price
levels at the burnertip, she said, and higher prices for gas likely
would mean fuel-switching at the company's power plants.
The casualty toll in last week's explosion of TECO Energy's
coal-fired Gannon power plant near Tampa, FL (see Daily GPI, April 9), now stands at three
dead and 49 injured after a second worker died of his wounds in a
hospital. A news report Tuesday said four of the plant's six
generating units, representing a little over half of its
1,200-megawatt capacity (earlier reports had given the size as 1,270
megawatts), were back in service. TECO officials blamed worker error
for the explosion, saying pressurized hydrogen used to cool turbines
should have been drained before the 6 unit was taken off-line for
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