With heat levels starting to ease off in the South and a mild warm-up trend approaching in the Midwest, the diminution of weather-related load was enough to allow prices to retreat across the board Wednesday. Negative prior-day guidance from the screen contributed to the softening effect.
Losses ranged from about a nickel to 20 cents. The West, where searing heat continues in the desert Southwest and highs in the 80s are due Thursday as far north as near the Canadian border in eastern Washington state, tended to see most of the smaller ones.
Even with a late-season Nor’easter expected to keep the Northeast wet and chilly for at least one more day, regional citygates mostly recorded drops in the low teens. And Gulf Coast numbers faded by similar amounts as highs in the 90s will become rare Thursday in the South outside of South Texas, The Weather Channel said.
Expectations of another large storage injection, probably in the 90s Bcf according to consensus estimates, to be reported Thursday morning added to general bearish feelings in the cash market, one source commented. He also noted that June natural gas futures, in falling another 3.4 cents Wednesday in their penultimate day of trading, refused to follow the lead of strong oil markets. Crude oil for July delivery soared more than a dollar to just under $51/bbl following a Department of Energy report of a 1.6 million-barrel drop in inventories last week, while the market had been expecting another increase.
Two pipelines provided an example of how differently the pace of storage refills can progress in different areas. Southern Natural reported that as of the end of last Thursday’s gas day, its estimated working storage inventory was about 29.1 Bcf, or about 49% of total 60.0 Bcf capacity. At the opposite corner of the nation, Northwest said its Jackson Prairie facility, with working capacity of 21,609,948 dekatherms, had 19,022,984 dekatherms stashed away as of Monday.
Most Gulf Coast points have been trading over the screen recently due to power generation load in the South, said a producer. The slightly greater strength in cash “is a different pattern from what we had been seeing prior to the last four to five days,” he added. Despite Wednesday’s lower prices and the forecasts for small drops in temperature levels, he reported still seeing appreciable generation load in the region for Thursday.
June basis getting a little weaker overall Wednesday but not at all points, the producer went on. It depended on the point being traded, he said, because some were stronger because of tight supplies and there was plenty of available gas at others. He quoted these basis deals done Wednesday: Tennessee 500 and 800 legs, minus 9.5 cents; and Transco Station 65 very strong at plus 4.75-5 cents. Tennesee Zone 0 started the day at minus 17.5 cents but later firmed to minus 15 cents, he said.
The producer’s company is almost finished with bidweek deals, having only some loose ends to wrap up Thursday.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has a basically bearish outlook for gas prices during the transition week from May to June. For the May 30-June 3 period, the federal agency predicted below normal temperatures for most of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S.; more specifically, everywhere east of a line curving southwestard through the Dakotas before turning vertical through eastern Colorado and New Mexico, then heading due east through central Texas and Louisiana before ending at the toe of Louisiana’s “boot.” The western two-thirds of Washington state and northwest Oregon is the only area where NWS expects above normal temperatures.
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