The market proved Friday it had at least one more trick left up its sleeve, rebounding at a large majority of points despite The Weather Channel’s (TWC) calling for warmer-than-average weekend temperatures in nearly all regions except Western Canada and the upper reaches of the West. Cash prices did have a bit of support from prior-day futures, but it seemed that weekend declines of industrial load would have largely offset that.
Granted, some cooler weather is returning to a large section of the eastern U.S. by the middle of this week, but its main effect will be to make conditions in the South even milder while increasing chill in the Lower Midwest to some degree. However, a couple of Midwest sources indicated that it was already cold enough in their areas to generate a noticeable uptick in heating demand.
A few scattered losses of 2-3 cents to about 15 cents, mostly in the Northeast, were left out of the overall mild rally. Otherwise, quotes were flat to about 20 cents higher, with nearly all of the gains in single digits.
Nymex traders surprised a few people by pushing prompt-month futures 4.2 cents higher Thursday despite an ostensibly bearish storage report, but the screen really let out all the stops Friday based on cold forecasts for much of the East in the coming week. Cash numbers will have ample futures support Monday following Friday’s spike of 17.2 cents (see related story).
Transco became the latest eastern pipe to announce restrictions aimed at preventing linepack from rising to undesirable levels (see Transportation Notes). Its Zone 6-New York pool was one of the few points to fall by more than a couple of pennies.
With a high linepack-causing outage of Gordondale Compressor Station ending Saturday, Westcoast Station 2 recorded the day’s top increase of about C20 cents.
Although the Waha range was little changed from a day before, more deals were being done near the low end as the point saw Friday’s largest drop.
Friday started with a surface low having its development chances lowered to 20% (and then lowered again that afternoon to near zero as it kept moving to the northeast from several hundred miles west-northwest of Bermuda). Meanwhile, a broad low-pressure area was drifting northwestward from the northwestern Caribbean Sea with heightened 20% odds for development. It had the potential of entering the southern Gulf of Mexico but was considered most likely to move ashore in Central America or southern Mexico.
Some rain and mountain snow were possible in elevated parts of the upper West during the weekend, according to TWC, but other than seasonably cool conditions in the Midwest, readings were due to be above average in the Northeast, South and lower West.
A Lower Midwest utility buyer said some of his company’s customers had already begun running their gas furnaces on occasion, and their numbers were expected to be rising later this week. But until around the end of last week the utility had not yet experienced any significant heating load in October, he said, and in fact during the first week of the month “a lot of us still had ACs on.”
A marketer in the Upper Midwest agreed, saying low temperatures had gotten “pretty chilly,” and his company’s clients were among local people that have started turning on their furnaces.
A utility buyer in Florida was unable to relate to such reports, since Sunshine State highs are still reaching the mid 80s. He reported buying spot gas into Florida Gas Zone 3 in the low $3.50s Friday. It was available for several cents cheaper in Zone 2, he said, but transportation economics made the Zone 3 purchases more advantageous. Temperatures may still be on the warm side, he added, but aren’t hot enough to keep power generation load from being fairly light.
Even as the U.S. oil rig tally hit its highest point in 24 years, according to a Reuters report, the surge of gas-oriented drilling activity in recent weeks slowed considerably as the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count reported an addition of only one unit in the week ending Oct. 14. The minuscule gain occurred onshore, with no change in the Gulf of Mexico count. The latest Baker Hughes tally for gas rigs was up 3% from a month ago but 3% fewer than the year-earlier level.
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