The weekend’s double-digit losses at nearly all points were replaced by mostly single-digit declines in most of the cash market Monday, and several scattered locations were flat to mostly a little higher. The restoration of industrial demand from its usual weekend drop likely helped account for some of the diminished softness, but weather-based demand remained generally light, Atlantic tropical activity was remote, and the 6.9-cent futures fall on Friday was a third bearish factor.
Dips of 2-3 cents to about a dime were the norm for most of the market, with El Paso’s two San Juan Basin pools leading the downward moves. Other points tended to range from flat to about a nickel higher; only Tennessee’s Zone 4 and thinly traded CenterPoint-South and Transco Zone 5 rose by more than a dime.
Line 300 in Tennessee’s Zone 4 was still seeing extra-low prices compared to the overall market, with Monday’s quotes dropping as far as $1.50. But that was still handily above the previous low of $1.30 earlier this month and far surpassed Rockies dips under a dollar nearly two and a half years ago (see Daily GPI, Sept. 8). In fact, combined with higher quotes for Line 200, overall Zone 4 numbers recorded Monday’s top gain.
Cash trading Tuesday will have a small amount of prior-day screen support after prompt-month futures rallied by 2 cents (see related story).
The National Hurricane Center began Monday keeping an eye on three low-pressure areas stretching from the central to eastern Atlantic, but it had deleted one from its monitoring scope by mid-morning and whittled the number down to a single system that afternoon. However, it had upgraded chances of the remaining low-pressure area — about 1,450 miles east of the Windward Islands — becoming a tropical cyclone within 48 hours to 60%, saying environmental conditions appeared favorable for development.
Hurricane Maria had already begun fading into the North Atlantic as the weekend began.
Florida and Oklahoma-Texas through much of the desert Southwest into inland California constitute nearly all of the areas that still have highs on either side of 90 or warmer in their forecasts. The Phoenix area remains the market’s hot spot with peak temperatures continuing to reach the low to mid 100s.
Otherwise, cooling load has become greatly subdued in the rest of the South and for all practical purposes no longer exists at this point in Canada and the northern half of the U.S. Modest amounts of heating demand likely are cropping up in sections of the Northeast, Midwest, Rockies and Canada, but merely seasonable near-fall temperatures are the norm in those regions.
However, even that presumably modest heating load won’t last long, based on the National Weather Service’s forecast for the Sept. 24-28 period, which calls for above-normal temperatures in nearly all of the western half of the U.S. extending eastward through the Midwest into the Northeast and much of the Mid-Atlantic. That will keep the Southwest on the warmish to hot side but return northern U.S. conditions to generally moderate.
Noting that Friday (Sept. 23) will mark the autumnal equinox, or change of seasons into fall in the Northern Hemisphere, a Midwest marketer said it had gotten chilly enough in much of the region that she suspected that some sensitive facilities like hospitals or schools might be dialing up their thermostats a bit, but she thought few if any residents had their furnaces going yet.
Deliveries at Malin, OR, on the California border fell by nearly identical amounts of about 3 cents via both Ruby Pipeline and Gas Transmission Northwest, according to IntercontinentalExchange.
It did not issue an OFO, but Westcoast reported that high-linepack conditions were continuing Monday on its system, which was a factor in knocking off Westcoast Station 2 prices by a little more than a nickel. However, Sumas was able to manage an increase of a couple of pennies or so.
El Paso regained some flexibility for Tuesday with the scheduled end Monday of maintenance that had made its Washington Ranch storage facility unavailable. However, flexibility remained limited, El Paso told shippers, because of ongoing restrictions on Lines 1100, 1103 and 1110, with which Washington Ranch has lateral interconnects. The still-limited injection service likely played a role in the largest price drops occurring at El Paso-San Juan while El Paso-Permian fell about a nickel.
The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count saw a jump of 20 to 912 in the number of active gas-directed drilling units during the week ending Sept. 16. An onshore increase of 21 saw little offset from a decline of one rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The latest Baker Hughes tally was 1% higher than a month ago but down 7% from the comparable year-earlier level.
Canaccord Genuity analysts noted that not only did the Baker Hughes report end a streak of three consecutive weekly declines, but it marked “the highest absolute level of gas drilling activity” since late January 2011 and the largest week-over-week increase since March 2010.
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