Don’t count the cash market out quite yet. Despite the previous day’s 9-cent drop by April futures and warming trends returning spring temperatures to much of the South, prices were up at virtually all points Tuesday — in most cases by larger amounts than on Monday.
It seems that the generally milder weather expected in many areas following a cold weekend isn’t materializing quite as much as previously thought. Also, expectations of a storage injection being reported for last week may have become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy as buying gas to put into storage adds a little extra demand to the market.
A loss of about a nickel by the Florida citygate was the sole exception to numbers ranging from flat to up a little more than a dime everywhere else.
Although it can’t be counted on to further sustain the cash price rally of Monday and Tuesday, the screen rebound of 5.1 cents on Tuesday (see related story) will provide a modicum of support for cash trading Wednesday.
April futures continued to trade a nickel or so higher than Henry Hub for the second straight day Tuesday.
Heating load remains higher than previously expected as lows in the 20s and 30s will persist through Wednesday in Canada, the Rockies and Midwest, while the 20s through low 40s dominate the Northeast forecast. It was snowing fairly heavily in Denver Tuesday, according to The Weather Channel, and snowfall will be fairly slow to exit both Colorado and New Mexico.
Meanwhile, temperatures will be peaking in the 70s throughout most of the South Wednesday, and while still on the cool side, the West Coast will be warming from a rare early-spring chill.
Quotes rose a few cents each at the Southern California border, PG&E citygate and Malin despite both SoCalGas and PG&E having high-linepack OFOs in effect for Wednesday (see Transportation Notes).
Southern Natural Gas provided some evidence to support several analysts’ belief that the storage report being issued Thursday will show the year’s first net build — nearly two weeks before the traditional injection season begins. Southern said that as of March 18 working gas inventory at its system’s two facilities stood at 21.5 Bcf, or 36% of total capacity of 60 Bcf. The pipeline had pegged the volume a week earlier (as of March 11) at 20.6 Bcf (34%), or 0.9 Bcf less than its most recent report.
The Kern River bulletin board gave some indication of why the Rockies market was flat to slightly higher for the most part Monday (in addition to regional low temperatures remaining in the 20s). Monday’s Intraday 2 cycle scheduled capacity at Coyote Creek Compressor Station was 1,757,956 Dth, leaving 111,913 Dth available. However, in Evening cycle nominations for Tuesday, scheduled quantities had jumped to 1,836,270 Dth, leaving only 38,730 Dth available. Similar, although somewhat smaller, volume increases occurred on those days at the Muddy Creek and Veyo compressor stations, Kern River said. Prices into the pipe rose about another nickel Tuesday.
A Midcontinent producer noted that OGT quotes were about a dime higher than those of its neighboring Midcontinent pipes Tuesday. Sooner State weather isn’t especially cold, he said, but he thought the intrastate’s extra firmness was likely a result of low available capacity. Also, imbalance makeups may have played a part, he said, because Oklahoma weather has been a little colder lately than what some traders had anticipated. However, the forecast is for milder conditions toward the end of the week, he said.
The producer lamented that it’s been hard to trade with small companies recently “because they’re red [that is, not creditworthy] on ICE [IntercontinentalExchange].”
He reported hearing talk of Midcontinent baseload trading for April at index flat to index plus 0.25 cent, but added that there was nothing solid about it yet.
It’s still cold enough in the Upper Midwest for her company to buy spot gas each day, but not much because overall March is still a relatively moderate month, a marketer said. The most recent local snowfall was Saturday, she said, but it didn’t stick. Temperatures will stay pretty cold through Friday but should be “bouncing higher again” after that, she added.
Contrary to the old saying, Weather 2000 says March came in like a lion but also appears poised to go out like a lion rather than a lamb “as Canada flips to a polar trough.” The High Plains and Calgary area of Western Canada will continue to see relatively mild conditions as the transition from winter to spring proceeds, according to the New York City-based consulting firm, but polar air is likely to swing through the Midwest/Midcontinent area in the waning days of March. The pattern also supports further lake-effect and Northeast snowfalls, Weather 2000 said.
Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates is projecting a storage build of 5 Bcf for the week ending March 19, saying that is down from a previous estimate of 8 Bcf. Strategic Energy & Economic Research’s Ron Denhardt said he looks for an injection of 7 Bcf.
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