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Price-Boosting Weather Impact Fails to Last

The spot market saw mixed price movement Tuesday, but softening points were in a clear majority. Relatively moderate conditions in most of the Northeast and a reduction of strong heat developing in the western South lowered much of the weather-based load that had lifted nearly all locations a day earlier. Monday's 6.6-cent drop by prompt-month futures was a further depressant for the Tuesday market.

Nearly all of the losses were in single digits, with many near flat, in ranging from 2-3 cents to a little more than a dime. Flat quotes were frequent in the rest of the market, where gains ran as high as about a dime. The Rockies, where Wednesday lows were expected to continue throughout the 30s, and San Juan Basin tended to see most of the increases of about a nickel or more.

A rebound of 12.4 cents by May futures (see related story) may help provide the basis for some recovery of lost ground by spot prices Wednesday.

Hot forecasts for its market area prompted Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) to issue an Overage Alert Day (see Transportation Notes), which helped FGT Zones 2 and 3 in the production area stay flat while the Florida trading points landed in the plus category Tuesday.

It appears that the National Weather Service may have struck out to some extent with its forecast of above-normal temperatures -- including a sizeable area of much-above-normal readings -- for essentially the entire eastern half of the U.S. from Wednesday through Easter Sunday (see Daily GPI, April 18). The prediction seemed to indicate a substantial amount of cooling load coming online, especially in the South. But although much of the region will still be peaking in the 80s, The Weather Channel said Tuesday a cold front will be entering the South from the northwest. Temperatures will be taking sizeable drops Wednesday in such areas as Oklahoma, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Arkansas and Tennessee. It depends on how far the front progresses into the region as to how much shortfall there will be in anticipated power generation demand.

The Midwest still has a fair amount of lingering heating load with expected lows in the 30s for the most part, but that didn't prevent the market area from recording flat to a few cents lower numbers. New England may still be burning some gas in its furnaces as temperatures are due to bottom out mostly in the 40s, but the lower Northeast is seeing a slow transition to more spring-like conditions, with the Philadelphia area already getting there with a forecast high just below 80, according to the Weather Central forecasters.

The Rockies cashed in a bit on still-chilly lows, and much of Western Canada hasn't escaped lows around freezing or less. But there's relatively little demand along the southern half of the West Coast, where unseasonably cool temperatures rule.

Of course the Atlantic hurricane season doesn't officially begin until June 1, but Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger said he was hearing a "buzz in the meteorology community" about a possibility of the season's first named storm arriving this week. "We're not talking about anything that's going to threaten land, and I actually doubt it's going to develop. But it's a possibility, and since we're just in April for goodness sake, it's worth talking about," Berger said.

Rockies producers are looking forward to having Questar's Clay Basin storage facility reopen to injections Thursday following a two-week shut-in for testing. The pipeline said Clay Basin will have total injection capacity of 375,000 Dth/d Thursday (including 25,000 Dth/d of park and loan service) and withdrawal capacity of 470,000 Dth/d.

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) said El Paso's San Juan-Blanco pool prices climbed about a nickel but volumes traded on the ICE platform rose only moderately from 446,800 MMBtu Monday to 494,000 MMBtu Tuesday.

IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper looks for a 52 Bcf storage injection to be reported for the week ending April 15. Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said his original estimate also was 52 Bcf but he lowered it Tuesday to 47 Bcf. And Hugh Li and Stefan Revielle of Credit Suisse weighed in with a 50 Bcf expectation.

Citi Futures Perspective's Tim Evans anticipates a 58 Bcf addition in Thursday's report, to be followed by injections of 37 Bcf, 87 Bcf and 90 Bcf for the weeks ending April 22, April 29 and May 6, respectively.

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