Cash prices fell 13 cents on average Thursday, but if the big-dollar losses sustained on Algonquin, Iroquois, as well as portions of Tennessee and Transco are factored out, the market fell only a penny.

Losses were widespread, and only a handful of thinly traded points saw gains. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a withdrawal from storage of 118 Bcf, much less than what traders were expecting, and futures posted a double-digit loss. At the close, March had fallen 13.3 cents to $3.285 and April had declined 11.9 cents to $3.345. March crude oil fell 79 cents to $96.83/bbl.

A Midcontinent marketer lamented the lack of cold weather. “We don’t have cold weather here, and we have capacity constraints going to all these markets. It’s not the demand that is the issue, we just can’t get our gas there.”

“We had gas on Enogex going into [NGPL] TX OK and we got backed out. The TX OK line is so filled up we can’t buck the pressure. We had a lot of gas coming back and are avoiding anything into TX OK. We had to take a hit on the gas we were obligated to deliver to TX OK and pay 10 cents more, and on our gas that was turned back, we had to sell that for a 10-cent discount.

“Part of the problem is that we don’t have any weather here. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s not about having gas supply, it’s about making that work.” forecast that the high in Dallas Thursday of 78 would fall to all of 64 Friday and ease to 63 on Monday. The normal high in Dallas is 59. Kansas City’s Thursday high of 51 was anticipated to fall to 47 Friday and ease further to 45 on Monday. The normal high in Kansas City at this time of year is 42.

Quotes on NGPL Midcontinent Pool fell 4 cents to $3.30; gas on ANR SW was off 3 cents to $3.31, and on Oklahoma Gas Transmission Friday deliveries were down about 2 cents at $3.31.

On NGPL TX OK next-day parcels came in at $3.35, 2 cents lower, and deliveries to Panhandle Eastern fetched $3.31, unchanged from Wednesday.

Although blizzard conditions are forecast for a good part of the Northeast, temperatures were forecast to be on a warming trend. Forecaster predicted that Boston’s high Thursday of 20 would rise to 32 by Friday and reach 39 by Monday. The normal high in Boston is 37. New York City’ Thursday high of 37 was expected to hold for Friday before making it to 45 on Monday. The normal high in New York City is 40.

Next-day gas at the Algonquin Citygates fell about $1.65 to $20.98, and parcels on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L were seen at $19.71, down $2.83. Gas into Iroquois Waddington was quoted at $5.93, $2.52 lower.

On Dominion gas for Friday delivery was seen at $3.43, two pennies lower, and on Tetco M-3 next-day gas was 9 cents lower at $3.79. Gas headed for New York City on Transco Zone 6 dropped $3.78 to $7.97.

Other market centers were also softer. At the Chicago Citygates Friday gas was quoted at $3.50, 2 cents lower, and on Northern Natural Ventura next-day parcels were $3.45, down 3 cents. The Houston Ship Channel was seen 2 cents lower at $3.31, and deliveries to SoCal Citygates fell 4 cents to $3.70.

Futures traders see a weakening market. “The [storage] number coming out where it did forced the market back down,” said a New York floor trader. “Prices struggle in the mid-$3.40 area, but I think prices may back down from $3.25 support. It’s getting towards late February, so watch for prices to fall to the mid-teens.”

For the moment, it’s all about the longer-term weather with “weather forecasts indicating below-normal temperatures and increased heating needs during the second half of this month continue to provide a boost to the market,” said Addison Armstrong at Tradition Energy in morning comments to clients.

The dominant price-driving event was the release of inventory data by the EIA, and the smaller-than-expected 118 Bcf withdrawal caught the bulls by surprise. One trader said he had heard inventory build numbers in the 118-120 Bcf range but also as high as 135 Bcf.

The weekly Energy Metro Desk (EMD) survey was looking for a withdrawal of 129 Bcf. “We’re convinced the EIA has trued up the last few weeks of misfires, so basically we thought the EMD consensus would be spot on, within 5 Bcf of minus 129 Bcf,” said John Sodergreen, editor. “Well, no system is perfect, and this week we reckon the categorical spread pointing to a surprise may not be all that accurate this week — though it has proven to be correct seven out of 10 times over the years. We think this will be an exceptional week. Minus 125 to minus 135 should be right on the money. Next week, however, we’re back to funky vibes coming out of EIA.”

The withdrawal fell short of the five-year average pull of 165 Bcf but ahead of last year’s thin 94 Bcf withdrawal and fooled a number of analysts. ICAP Energy predicted a decline of 121 Bcf, and a Dow Jones survey revealed an average 132 Bcf drop. Bentek Energy predicted a withdrawal of 123 Bcf.

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