As a trader had predicted, Monday’s 18.1-cent gain by May futures proved sufficient to boost nearly all of the cash market by double digits Tuesday. Physical gas got some extra support from weather fundamentals with colder temperatures returning to the Midwest and Northeast.
Only a flat Cheyenne Hub missed out on mostly strong advances throughout the rest of the market. They ranged from a little less than a dime to about half a dollar and for the most part were spread fairly evenly among geographic regions.
The new cold spells in the North will be nowhere near as severe as the unusually frigid conditions that surprised many people in early April. But Boston and New York City in the Northeast are expected to see lows of 39-45 degrees or so Wednesday, while Chicago and Detroit in the Midwest should bottom out around 40. Cooling load continues to be slow in developing in the South, and a cold front in the region’s end will squelch that further Wednesday.
A winter storm in the Rockies was starting to move eastward, but snow in Colorado was not expected to end until toward nightfall Wednesday. The lingering heating load did not seem to do much for prices at Cheyenne Hub and on CIG, however. CIG was the only pipe whose increase was less than a dime. However, air conditioning demand is growing in the desert Southwest, with Phoenix forecast to hit a high around 90 Wednesday.
Wednesday’s trading will again have prior-day futures support but less of it, as the May contract added only another 3.6 cents Tuesday amid significant softening of the petroleum complex at Nymex.
Extra storage injection capacity will return on the SoCalGas system for Wednesday’s market, as that is scheduled to be the last of three days of work at the Aliso Canyon facility that is causing a loss of 750 MMcf/d of injection capacity.
After starting withdrawal season with much higher-than-normal levels of storage, the situation is much closer to normal for Southern Natural Gas. About three weeks into the traditional injection season it reported that as of April 19, its two facilities contained 31.8 Bcf of working gas, or 53% of total capacity of 60.0 Bcf. That’s about halfway between the 39.9 Bcf (67%) on April 20, 2006 and the 24.0 (40%) on April 21, 2005.
A Florida utility buyer reported that it’s “pretty tame” for him in the daily market, but he was able to detect growing power generation demand for air conditioning needs as highs are starting to consistently reach the low to mid 80s in several parts of Florida.
Bidweek activity was picking up nicely Tuesday, the buyer said. He had seen Florida Gas Zone 3 basis weakening, saying it was plus 30 cents at mid-month, but more recently had fallen to the mid to upper 20s, and was in the low 20s as bidweek began Tuesday. May business should be fairly easy to get done, he said, because there are “plenty of decent offers” on price and ample supplies available.
It’s looking like a warm start to May, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). In its forecast for the April 30-May 4 workweek, the federal agency predicts below-normal temperatures only in South and Central Texas and in the southern half of the Florida peninsula. Above-normal readings are predicted for everywhere else with these exceptions where normal conditions are likely: the southwestern half of Louisiana and the rest of Texas except for the Panhandle and the western end (El Paso area); the northern half of the Northeast; and in all of Washington state and Oregon along with northernmost California. The greatest deviations above normal should occur in the Upper Plains and the western two-thirds of the Midwest, NWS said.
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