Mild weather seems to matter little as market recently follows prior-day futures guidance.
Again showing little regard for moderate weather in most regions, the cash market instead “followed the screen” in registering increases across the board Wednesday. Nearly all gains were in double digits.
High temperatures rising into the 80s in much of the South likely contributed some air conditioning load for gas, especially with quite a few nuclear generating units still being down for typical spring maintenance/refueling. However, the 15.2-cent jump by futures provided most of the boosting effect for cash numbers; also, with a large storage injection number expected to be reported Thursday for the week ending April 9, some buyers may have continued to stock up early in case summer prices turned against them.
Only a few points rose just less than a dime in gains that ranged as high as about 40 cents. The Rockies, while still on the cool side, were seeing generally moderate weather, but price upticks tended to be largest there. That was likely due to the end Thursday of a maintenance outage of Questar’s Clay Basin storage facility, which a regional producer estimated had cost 600 MMcf/d of potential gas placement since the beginning of April.
The cash market will continue to have futures support Thursday, but less than before as the May contract eked out a meager gain of 3.9 cents to $4.199 (see related story).
Warmer weather in the South may have increased gas demand, but that was hardly the case anywhere else except perhaps in the Phoenix area of the desert Southwest, where a 90-degree high was predicted for Thursday. Otherwise most of the U.S. was expected to range from chilly to mild, while most of Canada would stay above freezing.
An increase in Gulf of Mexico supply was on the way after operator Anadarko Petroleum said Wednesday it had completed maintenance on the Independence Hub platform, restoring a reported 300 MMcf/d of production that had been missing from an estimated 600 MMcf/d of flow prior to the work.
A Rockies producer said the restored availability of Clay Basin injections was certainly a factor in supporting prices. Concerning the overall market strength, he suspected that continuing signs of the economy picking up again were helping boost gas numbers. Rockies temperatures are still on the cool side but generally mild for mid-April, he said.
In the April 19-23 workweek the National Weather Service looks for below-normal temperatures south of a line sweeping westward from the southern end of South Carolina through the midsections of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi into North Louisiana before turning to the northwest into central Oklahoma through northeastern Colorado into southern Oregon. The agency’s six- to 10-day forecast posted Tuesday afternoon predicted above-normal readings from virtually all of the Midwest westward through the Dakotas into northern Wyoming and western Montana.
Credit Suisse’s Teri Viswanath said she expects the Energy Information Administration to report a 79 Bcf storage injection for the week ending April 9. “We expect this week’s [report] will likely set a new record for weekly injections for the reference period,” Viswanath said. “The significant week-over-week rise in storage and comparisons to last year’s injection of 21 Bcf will likely keep a lid on prices this week.” Kyle Cooper of IAF Advisors is looking for an 85 Bcf build.
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