The cash market Tuesday looked quite similar to the one a day earlier: prices again softening at most locations in the East and at some in the West, but with many in the Midcontinent and Rockies continuing to recover from the bargain basement levels to which they had descended for the weekend.
It was pretty much the “same old same old” explanation for the price weakness dominating eastern markets: the fall shoulder month transition where little cooling load remained for gas but with not much heating load showing up to replace it; a prior-day futures dive of 52.3 cents; obviously adequate storage levels, with several facilities already full or getting close; and global economic travails pointing to reduced overall energy demand in the future.
The majority declines ranged from 2-3 cents to nearly 45 cents. Exceptions to the overall softness were anywhere from flat to a little more than 95 cents higher.
Chances of a stock market rebound that would lift natural gas futures along with it looked good at first Tuesday, but then another crash by the Dow Jones Industrial Average had the opposite effect and took Nymex’s November contract 6.7 cents lower (see related story).
Tropical Storm Marco made landfall Tuesday morning south-southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico, and began weakening. The Weather Channel noted that Marco was “a very tiny storm with tropical storm force winds only extending 15 miles out from the center.”
Rains were moving from west to east across the South Tuesday and pulling high temperatures down into the 70s in the process. However, Florida had predicted Wednesday highs of nearly 90 degrees, which was enough to prompt Florida Gas Transmission to warn market-area customers of the potential for an Overage Alert Day because of lower pipeline linepack.
The desert Southwest was a lonely bastion of heat as Phoenix highs were again approaching 100, and inland California had warmed up again to the mid 80s. Otherwise moderate to chilly conditions dominated the weather picture everywhere else, but there wasn’t enough appreciable cold to generate price-boosting heating load for gas.
Excess supply issues in the West were diminishing to some extent. El Paso said its linepack had returned to normal. However, Westcoast continued to report that linepack remained high in all three segments, adding, “Packed shippers should trend packed accounts to zero. Drafted shippers should stay flat.”
The SoCal citygate, which began the October aftermarket valued at around a dime premium to the Southern California border, has widened the spread to 25-30 cents or so in the first two trading days of this week.
Referring to news that Rockies Express (REX) now expects delays in completing its REX-East segment (see related story), a Rockies producer commented wryly, “I’d give odds that REX maintains its perfect record by not meeting this timeline, either.”
Although Rockies/Midcontinent numbers may see some further gains largely because of the deep hole they dug for themselves late last week, a Texas-based marketer said he didn’t see any prospects for an overall cash gas rally anytime in the near future. There’s not much room for further storage injections as the end of the traditional refill season approaches at the end of October, the intermediate-term weather forecasts still don’t look promising, and the general economic picture looks lousy, he said. The marketer said he wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Gulf Coast prices averaging less than $6 fairly soon.
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