Prices were up at most points Friday as cold and snowy weather was expected to continue into the weekend in northern market areas and mountainous sections of the West, while a cold front in the heretofore mild South was giving a boost to overall heating load.
Several points in the West that were flat to about 20 cents lower prevented an across the board rally. The majority of gains ranged from a couple of pennies to about 35 cents and were strongest in the Gulf Coast and Northeast.
The South, which has felt more like mid-spring than late winter in the past couple of weeks, was getting a reminder that winter is still in effect as a cold front moved into the region Friday. Snow and sub-freezing lows also were in effect in parts of the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes area. Those conditions would shift more toward the overall Great Lakes region Saturday and start to taper off in the Upper Midwest before a slow warming trend starts early this week, The Weather Channel said. Little was changing in the Northeast, with lows remaining in the freezing area through Saturday and a wintry mix of snow changing to rain across New York and New England over the weekend.
A Northeast LDC reported expectations for slightly higher demand and below-normal temperatures on Monday, but he said demand was expected to be near normal during the upcoming week. "We're buying some gas day by day but it's what we planned for March. The pipelines are running OK. We're on track with storage, so everything is about where it should be.
"We've started looking at the injection season and our model is telling us to front-end our storage buying and stock up in April, but we will probably buy gas for storage on a more levelized basis this injection season. The market is just too volatile."
In the Rockies, Kern River got some relief from supply shortages and system drafting, saying linepack increased approximately 100,000 Dth during Thursday's gas day and had returned to normal levels throughout most of the system. However, linepack continued to be low Friday in the farthest upstream of its four segments. A pipeline spokesman said he had not gotten any updates since Kern River experienced wellhead freeze-offs a couple of weeks earlier, but with the current cold weather in Wyoming (Cheyenne was forecast to experience a low of 12 degrees Friday), he thought there was a "good chance" that freeze-offs were occurring again.
Citing a normal system-weighted temperature of 28 degrees at this time of year, Northern Natural Gas said it expected the average to remain in the high teens Friday and Saturday before rising to 24 Sunday and 25 Monday.
A Calgary-based producer said Chicago citygates rose as the Midwest anticipates a burst of cold over the weekend, "then it's back to normal temperatures." The high in Chicago on Saturday was expected to be 29 degrees. Evening nominations at the Chicago citygate on Thursday for Friday's gas day were up 20% to 3,282,000 MMBtu/d, according to data from Denver-based Bentek Energy.
There is still an ongoing issue of Vector takeaway capacity from the Chicago area being limited due to oil and condensate clogging Vector filters going into Dawn Hub, he said. Snow was continuing in the Calgary area Friday but was expected to end Saturday, the producer said. "It's not blizzard-type conditions," but just a slow, steady snowfall, he added.
Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) cautioned market-area customers Friday that "just above freezing weather" was forecasted to move into northern Florida on Sunday, so they should be prepared for the potential of an Overage Alert Day being issued on an upcoming gas day. In the event of that happening, FGT said, it see a low probability of any need to interrupt previously scheduled market-area ITS-1 service.
Below-normal temperatures in the latter half of this week will be confined to the Upper Midwest, northern New England and New York state, according to the six-to10-day forecast posted Thursday by the National Weather Service (NWS). The agency expects above-normal readings to be widespread, covering the entire West (except for the western quarter of Washington state and the northwest corner of Oregon) and spreading through the Midcontinent and Lower Midwest into the Mid-Atlantic and most of the South. Normal conditions will prevail in all of Florida and the coastal lower sections of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, NWS said.
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