After a 21.8-cent futures drop a day earlier that was largely based on a below-expectations storage withdrawal report, it was hardly surprising to see prices drop across the board Friday, even with colder temperatures returning to some areas during the weekend.
Of course, the usual weekend decline of industrial load was another bearish factor in Friday’s market.
Nearly all losses were in double digits in ranging from just under a dime to about 35 cents. Although no region stood out especially, the largest drops tended to be concentrated in the Northeast and West.
Quite a few points — mostly in the West — but also including several in the Gulf Coast — are now averaging less than $4. Henry Hub barely exceeded the $4 level Friday.
After weakening Monday through Thursday to the point that some analysts suspected sub-$4 numbers could be close at hand, April futures achieved a rally of 8.4 cents to $4.169 Friday (see related story), which along with the restoration of industrial demand following its typical weekend sabbatical could provide some support for Monday’s cash market.
Although prices into Appalachia’s Columbia Gas (TCO) dropped nearly 20 cents for the weekend, IntercontinentalExchange reported a huge increase of TCO volumes traded on its online system from 555,100 MMBtu Thursday to 744,300 MMBtu Friday.
Excess supply issues were still dogging western markets as both PG&E and SoCalGas kept high-linepack OFOs in effect through at least Saturday (see Transportation Notes). In addition, El Paso said it continued to experience high linepack on its system Friday.
Colder weather with snow and/or sub-freezing lows was coming back into the Rockies, Alberta and parts of the Midwest over the weekend. But most sections of the U.S. could expect the first official day of spring (Saturday) to live up to its reputation with highs ranging from the 50s through the 70s.
Obviously the price-boosting effect was nonexistent, but a Denver-area source reported that a major snowstorm kept quite a few people out of their offices Friday. The Rockies region was expected to clear up to mostly partly cloudy Saturday, The Weather Channel said.
A Midwest utility buyer anticipating lows in his company’s service area sinking into the mid 20s Saturday characterized it as maybe “Mother Nature’s last kick in our rear ends” before the start of spring. However, he thought the weekend’s forecast of cold temperatures likely was the last little hurrah of winter because nicer weather would be returning by late Sunday and conditions would be back into the 50s by midweek. Even by Friday afternoon there was “hardly any snow left on the ground at all,” he said.
The buyer said he could not argue with several analysts’ projection of net storage injections beginning with Thursday’s report for the week ending March 19, although he suspected that any build would be limited to single digits Bcf.
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