Forecasts of Tuesday highs in the 80s throughout most of the South and even hotter weather in the desert Southwest, along with the previous Friday's 17.3-cent gain by June futures, paved the way for higher prices at nearly all points Monday. Still-robust storage injection demand and the return of industrial load from its weekend hiatus also contributed to Monday's overall firmness.
All of the advances were in double digits and ranged from about 15 cents to 60 cents or so. Questar was unique in being the sole flat pipe.
Due to maintenance-related capacity constraints, El Paso's two San Juan Basin pools were the only points that dropped Monday. The pipeline's San Juan Crossover capacity will go from the normal 628 MMcf/d to zero from Tuesday through Thursday (see Daily GPI, May 14). The Blanco (non-Bondad) pool dropped about 15 cents while the Bondad pool was down about 35 cents.
Outside the San Juan Basin, western quotes got a boost from the fact that a PG&E high-inventory OFO was in effect for Saturday only.
A large majority of the cash market was trading at double-digit premiums to first-of-month indexes Monday. All of the points registering deficits to index were located in the Rockies and San Juan Basin.
North of the heat in the southern half of the U.S., temperatures are generally mild to cool. Although virtually all market areas have solidly transitioned from winter weather by now, a cold front moving into the Midwest Tuesday may produce overnight lows conducive to having some people turning their gas-fired furnaces back on, one source suggested. However, the Northeast will be closer to summer-like weather than mid-spring conditions, as both Boston and New York City are forecast to join the South with highs in the 80s.
Prices were strong Monday, a Calgary-based producer acknowledged, but he doesn't expect it to last. Even with prior-day futures support continuing with the June contract finishing Monday up 5.3 cents to $7.952, the producer pointed out that the settlement represented a retreat from another foray above $8. He anticipates "a little lower" prices Tuesday and says the overall market should remain moderately until some extra hot-weather demand comes along.
It's not getting hot enough yet in the Midwest (the producer's primary trading area) for appreciable air conditioning load, he said, but the approaching cold front could chill overnight temperatures enough this week to create a smidgen of heating load. There's unlikely to be any sustained heat in the Midwest until June, he said, noting that the region's 11-to-15-day forecast calls for normal temperatures.
The market is still getting some support from storage injection buying as the Nymex strip continues to indicate that gas is at its cheapest currently, the producer said.
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