Although lows around freezing or lower remained in the forecast for Canada and most of the northern half of the U.S., little of last week’s cold-weather bullishness was left in the cash market Monday. The southern U.S. had turned relatively moderate over the weekend, and only Canada and some northern parts of the U.S. were still due to see extreme lows of around zero, the single digits and teens.
The Northeast, where frigid conditions are still in effect, was still recording some spikes in leading minority increases from about a nickel to nearly $1.10. Otherwise, except for a Texas Eastern M-3 plunge of about 70 cents, prices were flat to about 20 cents lower, with the Gulf Coast taking most of the larger hits.
Monday’s cash market had meager support from prior-trading-day futures after the January contract rose only 1.6 cents Friday. Physical gas will have negative screen guidance for Tuesday after the contract retreated by 11.3 cents Monday (see related story).
Much of the significant heating load had disappeared from the southern sections of the U.S., where bottom-end temperatures that had been reaching the freezing area or the 20s in the previous week were now expected to go no lower than the 40s and 50s.
Heavy snowfalls predicted in mountainous areas of the interior West helped bring modestly higher numbers to some of the region’s trading points, including the Rockies, San Juan Basin and California. But despite temperatures still destined to sink to around zero or less in Alberta, Western Canada registered some of Monday’s biggest price dips.
The Northeast still has plentiful heating load, with some parts of New England still reaching the teens. But other than along the Canadian border, much of the Midwest is not expected to get below the mid 20s or so Tuesday.
Although there were almost no other pipeline restrictions of any substance and most of the South was considered relatively moderate, Florida Gas Transmission said predicted lows in the 30s and 40s in its Florida market area prompted it to issue an Overage Alert Day Monday (see Transportation Notes).
Another big storage withdrawal report is expected Thursday, but it isn’t likely to be as large as last week’s 207 Bcf pull for the week ending Dec. 11. For instance, Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective made an early projection of a 175 Bcf withdrawal for the week ending Dec. 18.
A Gulf Coast trader said market activity was very quiet Monday, which didn’t surprise her because quite a few trading counterparties have already begun holiday vacations. But although that would usually indicate low liquidity, she said, her company did not have any trouble at all in finding a home for its gas. Conditions have turned fairly mild in North Texas for now, she added, but they will get colder again later this week.
The trader said she wants to try to finish January baseload business by Christmas but was having little luck in doing so Monday. One deterrent is that customers are getting varying forecasts on how cold the weather will be next month, she said. At this point offers on Gulf Coast pipes are looking mostly like index flat, but in a few cases they are at index plus 0.25 cent, she said.
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