With low temperatures around freezing or less due Tuesday across a broad swath of territory stretching from the Northeast through parts of the Midwest, Midcontinent and Upper Plains into the Rockies and including much of Canada, prices recorded gains that were mostly in single digits at a large majority of points Monday.
A few scattered flat to about a nickel lower locations were the exceptions to gains ranging from 2-3 cents to about a quarter. The Northeast continued its tendency in recent weeks toward greater volatility than the general market, racking up nearly all of the increases of a dime or more.
April futures, which lent some support to Monday's cash market with Friday's advance of 3.1 cents, will provide even more positive guidance Tuesday after adding another 11.8 cents to their value Monday (see related story). Another modestly bullish factor was the return of industrial load from its usual weekend hiatus.
Although colder conditions are in store for Canada and much of the northern U.S., there are some pockets of contrary weather here and there, such as in Pittsburgh and Chicago, where warmer weather is predicted. Most of the South also is seeing temperatures on the way back up, too, with New Orleans expected to go from a high around 60 Sunday to the mid 70s Tuesday, which would make for a pleasant closeout to the Mardi Gras festival except that thundershowers are forecast for the Crescent City.
SoCalGas and PG&E ended high-linepack OFOs in California, while on the opposite coast Tennessee had canceled a market-area Imbalance Warning that was targeted at preventing low linepack. However, Algonquin was still asking customers to either stay in balance or run a positive imbalance if they could.
After plummeting nearly 65 cents Friday, Transco Zone 6-New York was regaining about 16 cents Monday on the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) online platform. ICE also said the point's trading volume slightly more than doubled from 156,900 MMBtu Friday to 315,400 MMBtu Monday.
It may not please people who are tired of an extended very cold winter, but Weather 2000 had a moderately bullish forecast for gas prices Monday. Winter is still going strong in the northern U.S., the consulting firm said, and there is "major snowstorm potential to last weeks more." Arctic air that is entrenched across the U.S. Upper Plains and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be far more resilient and influential than models realized, it added. Population-weighted heating degree days in the U.S. are "clinching a parallel" to the modern-era polar winters, of 1995-95, 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2008-09, Weather Central said.
A Midcontinent producer said he was finding basis spreads between pipes in the region very tight, making it very difficult to realize any profits by using arbitrage on the spreads. "It seems like a pretty dead market" for now, he said, but his company is getting ready for the storage injection season starting in April, when it sees more spread opportunities being available than now.
The producer said he was currently finding it hard to make sales to industrial buyers, primarily they were flush with baseload supply and had easy access to storage. However, he said a couple of industrials had indicated that they might do some intraday deals Tuesday if the weather gets cold enough. But he doesn't look for much beyond that, saying it appears that the current cold snap will begin fading before the end of the week.
However, The Weather Channel said that even as conditions ease in more northerly market areas, chilly air will again be targeting the for-now moderate Southeast later this week.
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