In a tremendously weak beginning of the November aftermarket, triple-digit plunges -- some exceeding $2 -- permeated Monday's quotes. Power generation loads were light as mild to cool temperatures prevailed in most areas, and last Friday's screen dive of more than 60 cents added further downward pressure on cash quotes.
Price losses from October-ending levels were as small as 10-30 cents or so in a few cases, but overall they ranged from about 40 cents to nearly $2.50. Western points tended to see most of the smaller declines.
Most of the weather that could reasonably be expected to produce significant heating loads is in the relatively sparsely populated areas of Western Canada, the northern U.S. Rockies and the Upper Plains. A weekend cold front was moving eastward from the Midwest into the Northeast Monday, but because the front originated over the Pacific Ocean rather than Canada, Northeast temperatures would remain above seasonal norms, The Weather Channel (TWC) said.
Moderate temperatures are forecast to prevail in the South, while the West's near-freezing conditions will largely be confined to higher mountain elevations.
"Pray for a blizzard," said a harried trader who markets gas on behalf of several Gulf Coast independent producers. "The pipes are stuffed to the gills with gas," she continued, conceding that "it doesn't look we're going to get one [blizzard], though," at least not this week. Her staff was swamped at mid-afternoon Monday trying to find new homes for gas that was turned back, she said.
California numbers were relatively firm in comparison with the general market. PG&E, after having a high-linepack OFO in place for Saturday, by Monday was projecting that linepack would be approaching its minimum target levels in the next two to three days.
Westcoast, where Station 2 prices dropped about C90 cents, anticipated gas backing up into its system as the week goes on due to Northwest pipe repairs near Centralia, WA that will result in a total outage of the affected segment Tuesday through Friday and perhaps a partial outage Saturday (see Transportation Notes). Due to Westcoast's own current maintenance activities, a large swing in linepack would have a negative impact on operations, Westcoast said in asking shippers "to reallocate their business to keep it in line with upstream production."
Little bidweek trading appeared to remain for completion Monday. Considering all the volatility generated by the screen's $1.30-plus spike on the first day of the three-day settlement period, it's hard to peg first-of-month indexes, especially since the November futures closeout of $13.832 was only 7.5 cents below the October settlement, one source noted.
A Southern utility buyer said he got some November gas as a backhaul from the Chicago citygate because that was notably cheaper than moving the gas straight from Gulf Coast production area. His company has full storage accounts, and is still trying to set up some December-February winter term deals to supplement its other supplies because those are the coldest months of the year. "In November we're going to start testing the waters" on how much more Gulf Coast gas is becoming available from the efforts at hurricane recovery, he said.
The buyer said his utility is experiencing more "delta" difference than usual between daily highs and lows. Normally it's 15-20 degrees or so, but has been more like 20-25 degrees in recent days. It's not a scheduling problem, though, he said; "we still look mostly at the daily average temperature" to plan ratable flows over 24 hours.
The recovery of shut-in offshore production picked up slightly from last week's snail's pace, but one almost needed a magnifying gas to tell it. Minerals Management Service said 69 companies reported 5,426.74 MMcf/d in remaining outages Monday -- down 77.75 MMc/fd from the previous Friday.
Tropical Depression Beta dissipated Sunday over Nicaragua, leaving no significant storm activity in the Atlantic Basin. There was a tropical wave Monday in the northeast Caribbean Sea, according to TWC, but no development was expected.
Citigroup's Kyle Cooper said his final estimation for the upcoming storage report calls for a build of 21-31 Bcf.
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