Although the pace of Atlantic tropical activity hastened rapidly over the weekend, the lack of menace to offshore production combined with generally moderate cooling load and the previous Friday’s 9.8-cent decline by September futures to produce losses at a modest majority of cash points Monday. However, price movement was mixed, with most gains concentrated in the Northeast, where above-normal highs in the low 90s remained in the forecast for Tuesday.
The Midcontinent also contributed some small increases among points that were flat to about a quarter higher. Otherwise losses ranged from a couple of pennies to about 35 cents (Florida citygate).
The physical market still can’t count on any prior-day futures support after Nymex’s September natural gas contract dropped another 7.5 cents Monday (see related story).
Almost as quickly as one could say “A-B-C,” a previously moribund Atlantic tropical season heated up over the weekend with the appearances of tropical storms Ana, Bill and Claudette (see related story). Claudette was already fading from the picture as a tropical depression after moving ashore into Alabama, with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) saying it had issued its final advisory on the storm.
What the NHC called a “poorly organized” Ana also had regressed to tropical depression status as it moved to the west-northwest south of Puerto Rico Monday.
The most impressive so far of the year’s named storms is its first hurricane, Bill, but it appeared that Bill would remain out of the Gulf of Mexico. It was seeing little change in strength late Monday afternoon while heading west-northwestward about 975 miles east of the Lesser Antilles island chain, NHC said. However, Bill could come a major hurricane by Wednesday, the agency added.
Although the Northeast is seeing higher-than-normal temperatures currently, the same can’t be said for much of the South. Although highs in the mid to high 90s remain in effect in Texas and Oklahoma, such normally torrid locations as Atlanta and New Orleans will not quite reach the 90-degree level Tuesday, according to Madison, WI-based Weather Central.
Meanwhile, the Midwest continues to have a relatively moderate outlook for low 80s peaks, and only the normally torrid desert Southwest can be expected to show some serious heat in the West.
Northern Natural Gas indicated how mild forecasts are for the Upper Midwest with a posting projecting average system temperatures through midweek within one or two degrees up or down from its normal weighted average of 70 for this time of year.
A Midcontinent producer said it’s remaining barely hot enough in his area to keep prices 1-2 cents or so firmer, but he thought the heat should have sufficient for even stronger numbers. He reported suspecting that hydropower was taking away some electric generation demand that normally would have been going to gas-fired peaking units.
Even as gas prices continued to get cheaper for the most part, a Midwest marketer noted that much of the trading community appears to not want to face up to the rapidly impending lack of storage injection capacity. “Where are they going to put gas in the near future” when few facilities will have any space left, she asked rhetorically. Her company has already received notifications from some Midwestern utilities that September and October are “limited injection months,” she said.
The marketer said a warm weekend in her area was being followed by cooler early-week temperatures, and much of the region is supposed to be below normal by the weekend.
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