There was something familiar about the pattern of Wednesday’s cash market. Perhaps it was because exactly two weeks earlier Northeast citygates were also spiking in the face of a approaching winter storm while nearly all other points softened moderately.
A few locations joined the Northeast in ranging from essentially flat to about $2.55 higher. The Mid-Atlantic area (Transco Zone 5), which had its own snow and ice assault starting to attack Wednesday afternoon, not only beat Transco Zone 6-New York with the top uptick of $2.56, according to IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), but also claimed the day’s highest average in the mid $8.50s.
There was still plenty of cold to go around elsewhere, except for some rather moderate highs in the 50s or above in the southern tier of states and along the southern West Coast. However, the non-Northeast part of the market saw losses ranging from a couple of pennies to nearly 30 cents; almost all of the downturns were in single digits.
For an idea on variations in weather impacts, consider that New York City’s high/low forecast of 36/20 Thursday (by Madison, WI-based Weather Central) caused ICE price averages and volumes in Transco’s Zone 6-New York pool to go up by a little more than $1.45 and from 130,700 MMBtu Tuesday to 182,200 MMBtu Wednesday. Yet Chicago citygates with a somewhat similar but slightly colder temperature outlook (27/22), fell by about a dime on ICE but recorded a bigger volume increase from 626,700 MMBtu to 743,000 MMBtu.
Most of the coldest weather outside the Northeast will be in the Midwest and to a lesser extent in the Rockies. The South should stay fairly dry after a lower Appalachian snowfall fades, The Weather Channel said, and except for a few West Coast windstorms much of the West should be somewhat moderate.
A Midcontinent producer said the storage report was more meaningful to him at this time than the Northeast weather. Area afternoon highs should be in the relatively comfortable 60s by Friday, he said. Other than the Northeast market reigniting, he saw no chance for price rallies anywhere else. One sign of that, he added, is that basis spreads are very tight “going in any direction,” and that means a lot of gas is available.
So far February bidweek is lackluster to the producer, and he sees baseload prices tending to weaken. As an example, he reported selling into Panhandle Eastern Wednesday at $4.23-25, and said that was down from $4.28-30 numbers Tuesday.
A Florida trader said she had made a little extra money for her company by picking up a Florida citygate package at last-day settlement basis flat, but offset by selling other delivered gas at basis of plus 55 cents. She said it was nice to be able to do end-of-month business without any pipeline restrictions (Florida Gas Transmission had called a one-day Overage Alert Day last week).
Credit Suisse analysts Teri Viswanath and Stefan Revielle said they expect a 166 Bcf storage pull to be reported for the week ending Jan. 21.
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