Forgive traders if they were feeling some sense of deja vu Wednesday. Much like early last week, Northeast delivered numbers were skyrocketing in the $3 area in several cases, while most of the rest of the market was down by less than a dime.
Subfreezing weather and snow are already firmly entrenched in most of the Midwest, and a good measure of those harsh conditions will be moving eastward to the Northeast over the next couple of days, according to The Weather Channel (TWC). Merely chilly to cold conditions are due to dominate in a large arc from the South Atlantic westward along the southern tier of states and then northward through the West Coast area. The moderately cold Rockies region will form something of a buffer area between the two weather extremes.
Northeast quotes garnered all the triple-digit honors amid gains ranging from 2-3 cents to nearly $3.20. The non-New York pool of Transco's Zone 6 laid claim to the day's top quote $10.50.
The rest of the market was flat to about C30 cents lower (Westcoast Station 2). The Stanfield dip of a little more than a dime was the only other loss outside single digits.
The screen downturn of 5.5 cents Tuesday weighed on Wednesday's cash market, but the February contract's Wednesday rebound of 13.6 cents should provide some upward incentive for cash traders Thursday (see related story).
Despite the new blast of cold, major pipeline constraints were relatively rare. Only Northern Natural Gas, MRT and Tennessee will have OFO-like measures in place approaching the weekend.
Kern River pricing was flat despite the pipeline reporting high linepack.
IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) reported that prices fell nearly a nickel at the Katy Hub in southeast Texas, but Katy volumes traded on its online platform more than doubled by the staggering amount of 655,000 MMBtu from 485,500 MMBtu to 1,141,000 MMBtu Wednesday. Meanwhile, neighboring point Houston Ship Channel dropped nearly 3 cents but saw ICE volumes fairly stagnant in declining from 159,4000 MMBtu to 143,700 MMBtu.
Although conditions were uncomfortably cold for human skin, the weather was "not terribly bad," said a marketer in the Upper Midwest. Business is strong; she said, as the company buys some spot gas for customers and does a storage juggling act as necessary to fill in the crevices. Naturally, she hopes the company juggles well "because some of those penalties can be nasty."
Over the weekend temperatures will be in the teens during the day and in single digits at night, ensuring a continued stream of strong heating demand, she said.
Strategic Energy & Economic Research's Ron Denhardt looks for a storage withdrawal of 233 Bcf to be reported for the week ending Jan. 14. Both IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper and Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates expect barely lower pulls of 232 Bcf each. Smith said his number is up a little from a previous estimate of 228 Bcf.
Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans projects that the Energy Information Administration will announce a significantly larger draw of 245 Bcf Thursday, to be followed by reports of 163 Bcf, 206 Bcf and 181 Bcf for the weeks ending Jan. 21, Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, respectively.
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