As sources had predicted Friday, a sharp rebound from huge weekend price plunges was in store for Monday. Sure enough, all points rallied Monday by amounts ranging from about 40 cents to more than $1.30, with nearly all of the gains of a dollar or more being recorded in the West.
However, even with prospects rising for more supportive weather fundamentals later this week, traders did not anticipate that Monday’s upticks would be sustained into Tuesday, much less Wednesday. They pointed to the screen, which followed up Friday’s increase of nearly a quarter with a significantly larger decline of 35.3 cents Monday, and to the fact that quotes began Monday near their high points and tailed off in later deals, which is usually a good indicator of next-day price direction.
A Midcontinent/Midwest marketer confirmed the market’s weakening trend as swing trading proceeded. She also noted that Michigan and Chicago citygates in the market area were “not all that strong” compared to Northern Natural Gas’s Ventura and demarcation points. It looks like the Midwest will start to see more weather-related demand around midweek, she said, but then the longer-than-usual Thanksgiving holiday weekend probably will negate any price-boosting effects of colder weather.
Cool to cold and snowy weather is dominant in much of the West, and the resultant heating load helped make that region register the day’s largest gains. The Southern California border topped them all with an increase of about $1.30, prompted largely by Monday and Tuesday being the first days since Nov. 15 in which SoCalGas didn’t have a high-linepack OFO in place.
A Calgary-based producer said there was a “little bit of snow” around the city Monday, but it was not expected to stick. However, he said many markets in the U.S. and Canada are about to begin experiencing “waves” of cold, in which temperatures will be colder one day, milder on the next day, then colder again in an alternating pattern that should last into early next week.
Minerals Management Service said there was no change Monday from the Hurricane Ivan-related offshore shut-in level of 648.47 MMcf/d it had reported last Thursday.
“Bidweek is just not happening for us,” a Gulf Coast trader complained Monday on the official first day of NGI‘s December bidweek survey. Several customers that usually make baseload purchases say they’ll be relying a lot more on storage withdrawals during December, she continued. “We’ve got producer clients that we feel bad about not being able to place their gas.”
Discounts are wiping out any premiums to index, the trader said, adding, “All I’m seeing are [index] flat to negative offers, but nobody’s hitting the offers yet.” As an example, she said TGT Zone 1 was being offered at index minus 2.5-2.25 cents. She oted that there was “just a little” December business taking place Monday on an online trading platform, with Sonat deals seeming to be most active.
A western producer observed that Nymex is scheduled to have a full-day session Wednesday for the expiring December natural gas futures contract despite the proximity to a long weekend. Somehow, though, he noted wryly, “I don’t think many people will stick around for the end of [the futures] trading” session that day. He believes Tuesday of this week probably will be one of the December baseload market’s busiest trading days.
Basis was tending to get a bit stronger Monday due to the futures weakness, the producer said. Malin basis was minus 53-55 cents Monday afternoon, up from minus 60 cents earlier, he said, although much like the Gulf Coast trader he was finding it tough to get anybody to commit to a deal. Intra-Alberta basis that had been minus C100 cents had firmed to minus C93 cents, he said, while quoting Sumas basis around minus 65 cents.
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