Northeast citygates soaring by multi-dollar amounts were way out in front of price rebounds at nearly all points Friday. Winter storms were already under way in the Northeast and Midwest (to be followed by new ones during the weekend), a fresh storm was due Saturday in the already frigid Pacific Northwest, and the South could expect one more day of moderate conditions before a cold front brought a return of wintry weather Sunday.
Gains ranged from a little less than a nickel to about $5.90. Texas Eastern M-3 had the top quote of $15, the biggest daily uptick and the highest average of about $13.05. The Algonquin citygate was close behind in averaging about $13, while Tennessee Zone 6 was in the $12.90s.
A few points, mostly in the West, were left out of the rally as they recorded losses of a little less than a nickel to a little more than 15 cents, while Sumas stood out with a further plunge of about $1.20 from the rarefied heights it was occupying earlier in the week when it averaged more than $10.
Malin and the PG&E citygate fell after PG&E ended a systemwide low-inventory OFO Saturday.
A mix of sleet and ice across much of the northern Midwest had knocked out power to about 225,000 customers Friday, and a new storm due there Saturday would bring more arctic air in its wake, according to The Weather Channel (TWC). A previous storm in the Midwest had moved eastward into the Northeast, conveying heavy snow over New York state and both central and southern New England, TWC said. The Northeast also could not expect any quick relief, with a new storm forecast to arrive Sunday.
The second half of last week had seen relatively mild conditions in the South with highs mostly in the 70s. That was forecast to end Sunday as a cold front raced from west to east, causing furnaces to be turned on again in the South. Although TWC said highs would remain near 80 in central and southern Florida through Sunday, Florida Gas Transmission cautioned shippers Friday to be on the alert for a potential Overage Alert Day due to 30-degree temperatures forecasted for northern Florida “later this weekend.”
Below-zero lows were predicted for Saturday in the Rockies, while some Western Canada locations such as the Calgary area could expect below-zero highs. A new winter storm was due to arrive in the Pacific Northwest Saturday, bringing lows in the teens and low 20s.
OFOs, imbalance restrictions or other operational constraints were either already in effect or to become effective during the weekend on various pipelines to the Northeast and Midwest.
Noting the frigid weekend weather predicted in the Rockies, CIG asked point operators to take into account such things as “freeze-offs” in their efforts to match actual flows with scheduled quantities (see Transportation Notes).
A Rockies producer said his company hadn’t heard of any wellhead freeze-offs, and noted that they would be unlikely with Denver-area temperatures around 30 Friday afternoon, which he called fairly moderate for December. Actually, he added, temperatures have to stay below zero for at least several days before wellhead freeze-offs become a threat.
The producer was concerned about intermediate-term weakness in the cash market. Besides all the other ills plaguing the U.S. and global economies, he noted imminent U.S. automaker plans to begin shutting down or suspending operations for a month or more at many plants. Not only will that cut gas demand at those plants, he said, but it will have a ripple effect on their supplier’s gas needs. “Weather isn’t going to save this market, not even the second coming of the Ice Age,” he said.
Friday’s 21.4-cent drop by January futures means the cash market will continue to have negative screen guidance Monday.
Although the National Weather Service’s (NWS) six- to 10-day forecast posted Tuesday afternoon had predicted below-normal temperatures in nearly all of the northern and western U.S. during the Dec. 22-26 period (see Daily GPI, Dec. 18), late last week it was expecting a change to normal conditions in a large part of that area by Christmas. In addition, NWS greatly expands the area where above-normal temperatures are predicted to south of a line from the lower half of New England through the southern Midwest to the eastern Rockies.
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