Not surprisingly, with the weekend decline of industrial load being added to the existing bearish influences that had taken the market lower in the previous two days, prices fell again at nearly every location Friday in the launch of the October aftermarket.
Weather load was due to retreat even further, with peak temperatures in both Texas and Florida forecast to recede from the low to mid 90s into the 80s during the weekend. Even the Phoenix high was expected to dip below 100 for the first time in weeks.
Most declines were in double digits in ranging from about a nickel to half a dollar. The chilling Northeast, along with the Rockies and California, tended to see most of the largest drops. Flat to about a nickel higher quotes at two Rockies locations constituted Friday’s exceptions to ongoing price weakness.
Initial quotes for Line 300 in Zone 4, where Marcellus supplies try to crowd aboard the pipe, averaged about $2.15 with a low end of $1.30. Line 200 numbers were more than $1.60 higher in the upper $3.70s. Zone 5 averages were slightly above $4 (200) vs. $2.60 (300). However, in Zone 6 they were much closer together at about $3.90 and the mid $3.50s, respectively.
The screen continued its three-day streak of no support for next-trading-day cash prices as the newly minted prompt-month November futures contract fell 8.1 cents (see related story).
Not only did Ophelia rise from the near-dead as a “remnant low” as last week it began to regain tropical storm status, but it continued to climb the rankings ladder Friday all the way up to the Category Three (major) hurricane rung. However, both it and Tropical Storm Philippe were not expected to come anywhere near the North American mainland.
Although Spectra’s Texas Eastern, Algonquin and East Tennessee were urging customers to run negative imbalances during the weekend and Columbia Gas extended a Critical Day for storage, Southern was ending two OFOs (see Transportation Notes).
The cooling trends in Texas and Florida left the desert Southwest as the only remaining bastion of significant heat. Temperatures in the South are even lower than in much of the Rockies, with such locations as Birmingham, AL, and Atlanta having been expected to top out in the mid 60s Saturday. Even Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta could expect warmer highs than that.
The Midwest potentially could see a bit of heating load develop with overnight lows in Detroit and Chicago due to dip into the mid 30s and around 40, respectively.
A fairly significant warming trend is due in the Upper Midwest, according to the Northern Natural Gas bulletin board. With a normal system-weighted temperature of 56 at this time of year, it projected the average rising from 51 Friday and 52 Saturday to 60 Sunday and 66 Monday.
A Lower Midwest utility buyer probably was typical in reporting a quiet period at his company, with gas throughput minimal because of mild weather. At this point there is no power generation or heating load to speak of, he said. However, the buyer added, the utility had procured some baseload supplies for October because although the nice weather negates any need for them now, “it will get colder during the second half of the month.” There was no shortage of bidweek offers, he said.
The only baseload trading that IntercontinentalExchange had to report as bidweek drew to a close was a sizeable amount of NOVA Inventory Transfer gas averaging C$3.36, down about a nickel from a day earlier.
An 11-rig advance to 923 in gas-directed drilling activity during the week ending Sept. 30 brought the total to its highest level since last December, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count.
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