Rocky Mountains points tanked to averages of about a dollar or less Monday. ICE said a CIG deal was done on its electronic on-line system at 15 cents, which would tie NGI's all-time record for lowest price; however, the lowest Rockies prices Monday that could be confirmed by the NGI price table were 30 cents at Cheyenne Hub and Questar.
The extreme Rockies weakness was in sharp contrast to a rising market elsewhere, as growing power generation load for cooling purposes in some areas combined with the return of industrial load from weekend hiatus to push prices higher at most non-Rockies points.
Monday's overall cash bullishness also likely had a bit of psychological support from the formation of Tropical Storm Barry late Friday afternoon. Although Barry had no impact on offshore production and its remnants were bringing heavy rains to the Northeast Monday, the fact that a second named storm appeared on the opening day of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season must have weighed on at least some traders' minds.
The majority gains ranged from a little more than bout a dime to 80 cents or so, and were strongest in the Midcontinent and some western points. Rockies losses ran as high as about $1.50 in Northwest's Wyoming pool. A few Louisiana and Midcontinent points missed out on the general price strength by recording small declines.
The last time any pipe averaged less than a dollar was on the trade date of Sept. 24, 2002 (see Daily GPI, Sept. 25, 2002). On Monday CIG tied the record for lowest price ever at 15 cents that had been established previously that year by both Kern River and Opal on the trade date of April 8 (see Daily GPI, April 9, 2002).
Most of the rise in cooling load for gas is occurring in the southern tier of states. A cold front will be pushing into the Northeast Tuesday, The Weather Channel said, and Midwest temperatures will range from below normal around the Great Lakes to near normal on the Great Plains.
Contributing to the Rockies weakness was a Declared Deficiency Period issued by Northwest for Tuesday at its La Plata B Compressor Station (see Transportation Notes). Also, Kern River was reporting high linepack Monday in its farthest upstream segment.
Somewhat curiously, the West outside the Rockies joined the overall market in recording robust increases. The weekend OFOs issued by PG&E and SoCalGas were no longer in effect Monday.
Florida Gas Transmission declared an Overage Alert Day Monday (see Transportation Notes), but it had no negative impact on rising prices at either the Florida citygate or in the production area, probably because of the very lenient tolerance of 25% for negative daily imbalances.
It's been a good while since the cash market had solid prior-day futures support, but the support will be there Tuesday after the July contract achieved a 31.3-cent advance Monday amid strength in the petroleum products trading pits at Nymex. The fact that the contract was able to finish well above the psychological $8 level at $8.191 -- and perhaps more important, stay above $8 -- should give extra impetus to Tuesday's cash prices.
A cold front is moving into the West Tuesday, and it will be wiping away most of whatever cooling load there might have been for Rockies production, said a staffer at Golden, CO-based Bentek Energy. Also, Rockies pipes are full or close to it, he added, with Bentek's flow models showing "darn near capacity at all points." It boils down to the residual effect of takeaway capacity from the Rockies not keeping up with the region's production growth, he said, and Rockies producers are unlikely to get a break from that situation until the Rockies Express Pipeline begins service.
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