Retreats by three New England citygates were the only exceptions to advancing spot prices Friday. The continuation of frigid weather into the weekend in several market areas or the impending return of it after a brief period of moderation, along with the spike of nearly 40 cents by March futures the day before, were chiefly responsible for the cash market strength.
The majority of gains ranged from a little less than a nickel to nearly 75 cents. The New England citygates declines were anywhere from about a dime to about 35 cents.
It wasn’t clear why the New England points were soft when Boston temperatures were predicted to repeat Friday’s low in the mid teens Saturday while the high would plunge from Friday’s upper 40s to about 25. The anomaly was enhanced by other Northeast citygates scoring some of Friday’s largest increases, with Transco’s Zone 6-New York City pool topping all gains. Six Northeast points averaged in quadruple digits.
A windy mass of mild air moving up from the south would cause temperatures to moderate Saturday and Sunday in the Midwest, but much colder air was due to return to the entire region Monday, The Weather Service said. The eastern half of the South had been warming up a bit Friday but was expected to be cooling down again Saturday.
The normally moderate desert Southwest has been getting some fairly heavy snowfall recently in the mountainous northern sections of Arizona and New Mexico. The Rockies and Pacific Northwest were due to record lows around freezing or less, but highs would be relatively moderate, such as the 53 forecast for Saturday in Denver.
A weekend break from lows around zero in the Upper Midwest allowed Northern Natural Gas to lift a System Overrun Limitation Saturday.
Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) cautioned shippers Friday that its linepack was low and near-freezing weather was in the forecast for northern Florida Monday and Tuesday morning, so they should be alert for the potential of an Overage Alert Day (OAD) being issued on an upcoming gas day.
A Florida utility buyer said he considered the pipeline’s warning of a potential OAD as a preemptive move. FGT essentially was telling customers that its linepack was a little low, “so don’t short us this weekend.” It wards off people trying to use negative imbalances to their advantage, he said. Despite FGT’s posting, he didn’t expect it to get especially cold in northern Florida.
The buyer said he thought the screen’s strength Thursday had as much to do with Friday’s higher cash prices as the cold weather forecasts.
It would be “really cold” in the Northeast Saturday, followed by a little warm-up early this week, then turning colder again, said a Texas-based marketer. He said he knew quite a few gas industry companies that didn’t plan to take off for the Presidents Day holiday. But it’s usually a short day in those cases — come in, check out what’s new and maybe catch up on paperwork before leaving early, he said.
There’s very little load currently on either the LDC or power side in the Southwest currently, said a utility buyer in the region. It’s on the cool side now, but “once temperatures get up into the 70s, nearly all of our gas buying disappears,” he added. The buyer noted that it’s looking like a very good year for hydropower in the West. He said a couple of folks from Colorado told him that snowpack in the state is more than 100% of normal levels. That should help lower gas prices in a couple of months when hydro season kicks in, he said.
A net four more rigs joined the search for natural gas in the U.S. during the week ending Feb. 15, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count (https://intelligencepress.com/features/bakerhughes/). One rig exited the Gulf of Mexico, but five were added onshore, Baker Hughes said. Its new tally of 1,428 active gas-seeking rigs was up 2% from a month earlier but down 3% from the year-ago level.
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