Apparently cash traders weren't quite as impressed Tuesday with the forecasts of significantly chillier temperatures in several areas later in the week as they had been a day earlier, because prices fell at most points outside the Northeast. The traders were finding some sections already set to start rebounding from the most recent blasts of cold, and new forecasts Tuesday tended to be a bit less severe than those that began the week.
Even a further increase of 10.7 cents by December futures a day earlier failed to prop up Tuesday's cash market.
Much of the Northeast turned in a fairly strong performance again; although some regional points were no more than flat, they were accompanied by neighboring locations with gains ranging from 2-3 cents to nearly half a dollar. Several scattered points in other regions were flat to about a nickel higher.
But most of the market seemed to judge that the cold weather fundamentals they had perceived on Monday weren't quite so strong a day later. Most points recorded losses ranging from 2-3 cents to nearly 20 cents; a modest majority of declines were in single digits.
Physical gas will have a small bit of negative guidance Wednesday after prompt-month futures set the stage for their expiration date with a dip of seven-tenths of a penny Tuesday (see related story).
Because of the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, Wednesday's spot trading will cover daily flows from Thursday through Monday.
It was ineffective in supporting prices for the most part, but a major winter storm still was buffeting much of the West. Kern River was projecting single-digit lows Wednesday for two of the Rockies' larger urban centers: Salt Lake City, UT, and Denver. And elsewhere blizzards and whiteout conditions were predicted for some high-elevation areas of the region, according to The Weather Channel.
However, toward the midsection of the U.S. temperatures are creeping slowly higher again, and while conditions are cooling slightly in the South, that region remains relatively moderate for late November. Befitting its leading price increases, the Northeast is the only market area experiencing a substantive cooldown.
Despite the biggest price uptick occurring in New England at Tennessee Zone 6, Tennessee introduced one of the East's currently rare pipe restrictions in issuing a systemwide Imbalance Warning to prevent linepack from growing excessive (see Transportation Notes). However, El Paso said Tuesday its linepack had returned to normal after exceeding maximum target levels since early Monday morning.
A western trader said much of the West Coast seemed colder than usual, perhaps the coldest he could remember "in maybe 10-15 years." Of course, that still failed to keep prices firm Tuesday, he acknowledged. He thought abundant storage levels had tended to put a damper on PG&E citygates.
A Midwest marketer said the local forecast got quite a bit colder since Monday, but she was hearing that there might be more rain on Thanksgiving Day than previously expected, which might hinder snowfall from getting conditions too cold.
The marketer reported paying last-day settlement basis of plus 22 cents for Consumers Energy deliveries and plus 28 cents at the MichCon citygate. Other than not being so happy with the big price increases for December, the company's clients seem to be generally satisfied with winter preparations, she said.
No change in working gas storage levels is expected to be reported for the week ending Nov. 19 by Strategic Energy & Economic Research's Ron Denhardt. IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper also looks for a flat number. Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said his final expectation of a 6 Bcf withdrawal replaces an original estimate of a 3 Bcf addition.
Citi Futures Perspective's Tim Evans anticipates a 7 Bcf subtraction in Wednesday's report, to be succeeded by increasing draws of 38 Bcf, 115 Bcf and 133 Bcf in the weeks ending Nov. 26, Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, respectively.
Teri Viswanath and Stefan Revielle of Credit Suisse are among the few expecting at least one more addition, saying they look for a 2 Bcf build.
With low temperatures due to dip below freezing Tuesday, the Chicago citygate recorded the biggest increase from Monday to Tuesday of 514,000 MMBtu to 2,709,000 MMBtu, or 23%, among the 23 trading points covered by Bentek Energy's U.S. Natural Gas Hub Flows chart. Bentek found other large volume gains Tuesday of 110,000 MMBtu (37%) at Tennessee Zone 0 and 181,000 MMBtu (22%) at Waha.
However, although the PG&E citygate jumped by 385,000 MMBtu to 3,371,000 MMBtu (13%), Bentek said the Northern California delivery point dropped by 79,000 MMBtu to 1,035,000 MMBtu (down 7%). One source speculated that it was because Southwest basin production was displacing Canadian supplies at the citygate due to Northwest Pipeline asking north-end shippers to buy more gas at Sumas to help avoid excessive negative imbalances north of the Kemmerer and Roosevelt compressor stations.
It appears that monthly indexes will be making giant leaps higher. IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) said baseload Chicago citygate deals for December averaged just shy of $4.50 on its online trading platform in Monday's first official day of bidweek trading. That was about $1.05 above NGI's November Chicago index of $3.45. And the Waha average of $4.10 Monday on ICE was almost exactly a dollar higher than the $3.09 November index.
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