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Christmas Break Fails to Stanch Price Bleeding
Traders returned Monday from a long holiday weekend to find thecash market about as weak or even weaker than it had been prior toChristmas, depending upon the market area. A warming trend andsofter futures were cited as reasons. The Gulf Coast, last week’sbargain basement region for gas, was only dropping a nickel to adime. But Western points, which had been riding high on the basisof having the nation’s chilliest weather, fell anywhere from about20 cents (PG&E citygate) to as much as 50 cents (Stanfield).
It was a rather homogenous overall market as Gulf, Midcontinentand Southwest field averages mixed it up in the $1.70s whileRockies pipes ranged above and below that area.
Due to considerably milder weather than last week in most areas,several pipelines had ended OFOs aimed at preventing overtakes ofgas. A marketer said there were forecasts for colder weather againaround midweek, but he called it an even guess as to whether thatwould result in one last price upturn for 1998.
A source who trades in the California/Rockies market perceivedthe market as rather slow and thin with Canadian traders observingBoxing Day (the actual holiday occurred Saturday).
The Northern Border expansion remained hampered both by excesshydrates and a big difference in pressures between the originalsystem to Ventura, IA (1435 psi) and the expansion segment betweenHarper, IA and Manhattan, IL (1050 psi), a spokeswoman said.However, the pipeline was delivering 90 MMcf/d Monday at Manhattan,its Chicago-area interconnect with NI-Gas and Peoples, and wastaking nominations for up to 200 MMcf/d, she added. Full expansioncapacity is about 700 MMcf/d.
Bidweek activity started to pick up Monday after being close toa non-event before the holiday. An Appalachian trader said basiswas “in the dumps,” saying he had sold into Columbia Gas at plus10. But another source said Northeast basis had moved up a coupleof cents, pegging Transco Zone 6 (NYC) at plus 40-42 and TexasEastern M-3 and Zone 6 (non-NYC) at plus 29-31.5. Panhandle Easternbasis was reported at minus 5.
One marketer was seeing a very wide Opal range for January,quoting deals from $1.77 to $1.945. Another reported Malin at$2.16-17 and Northwest-domestic from the low to mid $1.80s.Louisiana points were trading in the mid to high $1.70s, a coupleof sources said.
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