Forecasts of very warm to sizzling weather Tuesday across quite a few market areas, along with the 14.5-cent rebound by futures Friday and the return of industrial load from its typical weekend decline, were able to raise cash prices at nearly all points Monday. The source of some of the demand was obscure, though, because cooling trends are due at some western locations in the South and Midwest.
Only a huge Florida citygate drop of about 85 cents (after Florida Gas Transmission ended a multi-day Overage Alert Day over the weekend) and a flat Florida Gas Zone 3 averted an across the board run of firmness. Otherwise, gains ranged from a couple of pennies to about 40 cents and tended to be strongest in the Gulf Coast and Northeast. Most of them were around a dime or less, though.
August futures reversed their course again Monday, falling 9.1 cents to deny any further next-day support to the cash market (see related story).
The Midwest was a conspicuous exception to the general trend of hot conditions. Although peak temperatures were due to continue reaching the mid to high 80s at many eastern-end locations in Ohio and Indiana, a cold front was due to take highs in more westerly sections of the region. The Northern Natural Gas bulletin board, as it often is, was helpful in indicating how much cooling load would be departing the Upper Midwest. The pipe was slightly exceeding its normal system-weighted temperature of 73 degrees at this time of year with an average of 75 Monday, the posting said, but those numbers were projected to slide to 68 Tuesday, 64 Wednesday and 65 Thursday.
The South was another area where air conditioning load was expected to drop in some sections. Although predicted highs will remain around 90 or slightly higher Tuesday in the eastern half of the South and in Oklahoma/Texas, North Louisiana and parts of Arkansas and Mississippi will be sliding from that level to the mid 80s, according to Madison, WI-Based Weather Central.
The Northeast can expect little change in temperatures, with peaks due to stay around the mid to high 80s.
The western outlook was a study in contrasts. The desert Southwest and interior California will be static with highs still ranging from around 100 to the mid 110s. The big change will be a relatively unusual heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, where Portland, OR, and Seattle are due to sizzle Tuesday under peak temperatures in the low 100s and mid 90s, respectively. However, that will be offset to some extent by Rocky Mountain highs dropping mostly into the mid 60s to mid 70s.
In another indicator of how much gas storage capacity is tightening early this year, Tennessee said Monday afternoon it was interrupting Interruptible Storage (IS) service at its Bear Creek facility in northwest Louisiana to all IS customers. “This curtailment is necessary due to high storage balances, the need to ensure operational flexibility and to serve higher-priority customers,” the pipeline said. It also required that 100% of any balance under IS-PA storage agreement be withdrawn by Aug. 31.
A Midcontinent producer acknowledged that prices were up a little Monday but said there’s “still too much gas out there” to call it a really strong market. Most of his usual Oklahoma power generation customers were no longer buying spot gas Monday, he said. Rainy weather in the area was also helping dampen gas demand, the producer added.
Highs around 90 currently just don’t require as much gas as the occasional peaks in the mid 100s that were being experienced in recent weeks, he noted.
Virtually all of the Midcontinent pipes were trading for August on IntercontinentalExchange at index minus 0.25 cent to minus a penny, he said.
The Lower Midwest has been unusually cool for most of July, a utility buyer in the region said. She found it kind of mysterious about Monday’s price strength, albeit minor, when so much of the Midwest will be fairly cool Tuesday.
The buyer said her company made its Northern Natural-demarc bidweek purchases last week at index flat to 0.5 cent higher, adding that “I think we’re finished for August unless something else turns up. Told about the producer’s report of small index discounts trading Monday in the Midcontinent, the buyer said the bidweek market appeared to be getting a bit weaker. It seems like it often happens that when you buy next-month baseload gas early at index, the index numbers get a little weaker as bidweek gets going, she said.
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