Prices fell across the board Friday as the continuing dearth of either heating or cooling load, the previous day's 9-cent futures drop and the usual weekend dip of industrial demand combined to soften the cash market. The lack of any credible tropical storm threat to offshore production was another bearish factor.
Double-digit losses constituted nearly all of the softness ranging from a little less than a dime to a little more than a quarter. Large declines were scattered but tended to be concentrated in the Midcontinent and West.
Negative screen guidance will continue for Monday's cash market as the new prompt-month November futures contract fell another 7.5 cents Friday (see related story).
The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count found a further decline of five rigs to 962 participating in the U.S. gas search during the week ending Oct. 1. One rig was added in the Gulf of Mexico, Baker Hughes said, while six were deactivated onshore. Its latest tally is down 2% from a month ago but 35% above the year-earlier level.
NGI introduced several new index points Friday. Among them, Tennessee Zone 0-South in South Texas was down about a dime, while Trunkline Zone 1A in North Louisiana/Arkansas fell a little more than a dime. Clarington, Tennessee numbers dropped nearly 20 cents to about $3.77, but that was still about a nickel above non-Tennessee receipts from Rockies Express at Clarington. The new Tennessee Zones 4 and 5 indexes were down close to 20 cents or so.
With former Tropical Storm Nicole having dissipated into thunderstorms over the Bahamas, as of Friday afternoon the National Hurricane Center was monitoring only a surface trough over the northern Caribbean Sea and "a large area of disturbed weather" about 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. They were accorded 10% and 30% chances, respectively, of becoming a tropical cyclone during the succeeding 48 hours.
Several pipelines warned shippers of low weekend demand and cautioned them against creating positive imbalances.
Despite a price loss of nearly a dime, IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) found volumes traded on its online platform into Columbia Gas skyrocketing from 606,200 MMBtu for Friday to 835,000 MMBtu over the weekend.
Cooling load continued to slip in the South, with many locations expected to peak in the 70s Saturday and only some parts of Louisiana and Texas likely to get as high as the low 80s. Forecasts elsewhere were largely unchanged: moderate to cool in most areas, with only desert Southwest areas such as Phoenix retaining any summer-like heat.
Except for the heavy rains causing flooding along parts of the East Coast, a Midwest marketer noted that weather was "nice everywhere." He said he was not surprised by the weekend price drops and actually thought the market should have been a little softer than it was in light of low weather-based demand. He was unable to perceive any rally prospects this week, saying either major heat or "downright cold" were the only things that could change the price equation to positive, and neither of those conditions were in sight as of Friday.
The marketer said Panhandle Eastern maintenance at Houstonia Station is his company's main pipeline headache for now, but overall it was a very quiet market going into the weekend.
A western trader said Northern California temperatures would be "creeping up to more normal" this week. He thought the PG&E citygate loss of about 20 cents was at least partially attributable to some suppliers being fearful of a new high-inventory OFO and thus selling at lower prices than they might have gotten later. He expects cash quotes to be mostly around flat to slightly higher this week.
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