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Weather Not Very Supportive, But Most Points Rally

Prices rebounded at nearly all points Monday, even with weather forecasts being mostly mild to chilly in northern market areas and merely warm -- but not especially hot except from Texas through parts of the desert Southwest -- in the southern U.S. The previous Thursday's futures gain of 10.2 cents and returning industrial demand after a holiday weekend were chiefly responsible for the overall firmness.

Several points were flat, but the overwhelming majority of the cash market recorded gains ranging from 2-3 cents to a little more than a dime. Most of the larger increases in the dime vicinity occurred in the West and Midcontinent/Midwest, where lows are still predicted to be dipping into the 30s.

The cash market will have to get by without any screen support Tuesday after May futures began their three-day settlement period with a loss of 2.3 cents (see related story).

As expected, the low-pressure area that seemed to signal a bit of pre-hurricane season Atlantic activity prior to the Good Friday holiday quickly fizzled out.

A harbinger of potential storage refill constraints came from NGPL, which said effective Tuesday until further notice it had limited capacity for injections above Injection Quantity and Maximum Daily Quantity for DSS and NSS rate schedule customers in all zones on both the Amarillo and Gulf Coast systems. Such injections "will be scheduled on a limited basis and remain at risk of not being fully scheduled," the pipeline said.

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) reported its initial bidweek prices at the Chicago citygate averaging around $4.48, or about 6 cents above NGI's April index. ICE also said the Houston Ship Channel was averaging $4.34 in early May baseload deals, also about 6 cents above the April index.

A western trader said California temperatures were below normal at this point, but were expected to warm a little later in the week. His company was "following the script" on its storage injection schedule, he said. He noted that basis spreads had widened a bit lately, with gains at the Southern California border and PG&E citygate tending to slightly outpace those in the San Juan Basin production area.

The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count found a decline of seven rigs searching for gas in the U.S. during the week ending April 21, pushing the total down to 878. Five rigs were deactivated in the Gulf of Mexico while another two quit the search onshore, Baker Hughes said. Its latest tally was unchanged from a month ago but down 8% from a year earlier.

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