Not surprisingly on the day after storage news got even more bearish than before and caused a plunge of 38.3 cents by April futures, cash numbers fell at all points Friday. Except for the Rockies, Western Canada and a few sections of the Midwest, freezing lows were continuing to disappear from the overall forecast. The usual weekend decline of industrial load was a slightly negative factor in Friday’s market.
Only the Kern delivery point in the Southwest managed to avoid seeing double-digit declines. The overall losses ranged from a little less than a dime to a little more than 60 cents, with citygates in the Midwest and Northeast tending to see most of the biggest drops.
Nymex traders continued to react bearishly to storage injections having begun prior to the traditional March 31 end of withdrawal season, pushing the April futures contract another 31.6 cents lower on its expiration day (see related story).
Analysts with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey/the Gerdes Group noted that the build during the week ending March 20 was the earliest one in a calendar year since March 2003.
Going into the weekend temperatures were tending to rise in the eastern end of the South but go the other direction in the region’s western half. All of the South was due to be merely cool to chilly Saturday, so heating load gains were minimal.
The Northeast and Midwest also had mixes of weather direction predicted, with some sections expected to get warmer while others would see cooling trends. But with lows predicted not to go beneath the upper 30s in most of both regions, their heating load was relatively moderate for late March.
The Rockies and Western Canada would have the lion’s share of the coldest weekend weather, but while that tended to keep losses fairly low in the Rockies and San Juan Basin, declines by NOVA Inventory Transfer and Westcoast Station 2 were among Friday’s biggest. One mitigating factor was that Westcoast was reporting high linepack in the northern and central sections of its mainline, and said linepack was forecast to continue to increase.
Rockies producers anticipating stronger basis for their gas when Rockies Express-East begins interim service got another disappointment when the pipeline announced that weather delays had again pushed back the projected start-up, this time to around late April or early May (see related story).
A utility buyer in the South said he was more surprised by the market’s reaction to Thursday’s storage report than by the actual report of a small injection. He thought the major screen plunges on Thursday and Friday might have been a little “overdone.”
The buyer said his utility was able to catch up on its storage withdrawal schedule on one pipeline with the help of some mid-month cold weather and now is ready to begin injection season in that account. However, it still has more gas than desired in a second account on another pipe, he said. His area would be “a little chilly” during the weekend but not uncomfortably cold, he said.
A Midwestern marketer reported paying April basis of plus 18.5 cents at the Consumers Energy citygate and plus 23.5 cents for MichCon deliveries. She was not sure why the MichCon gas was more expensive this time, saying it’s usually the other way around. Her company was gratified to see the big Nymex drops Thursday and Friday, she added, because that made April gas cheaper for its clients.
Saturday weather was looking a little milder than previously expected, the marketer went on, but the area forecast still contained a possibility of snow Sunday.
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