Taking its cue in part from Friday’s significant natural gas futures drop, most cash points averages on Monday followed suit, recording drops of a few pennies up to approximately 75 cents. The few gains were recorded out West, where a “very warm pattern” settled in over the weekend.
The Southern California Border average for Tuesday delivery increased seven cents to $6.68/MMBtu. As a result, a few Rockies points, which can flow to western markets, were pulled higher. El Paso Bondad and El Paso non-Bondad climbed 9 cents and 6 cents, respectively, to finish the day at $6.24/MMBtu and $6.30/MMBtu.
“While prices were up out West on Monday, we were actually doing a fair amount of selling,” said a trader for a West Coast utility. “The heat rolled in over the weekend and is expected to stick around through the week. They are calling for temperatures in the 70s and 80s, so that possibly helped prop values up. There is a lot of activity going on out here. A lot of people are trying to shed load and there was an OFO over the weekend, so some opportunities resulted from that.”
Addressing the current storage situation on the left coast, the trader said things are “pretty much full” everywhere you look. “We are just about rolling around to November when the withdrawal season starts, so everybody is basically at the same point, I think,” he said.
The weather picture out West was looking anything but fall-like. “A very warm pattern has developed across the West after several weeks of very cool temperatures along the coast,” said Lehman Brothers analyst Daniel Guertin. “For the first time this fall, strong Santa Ana winds will impact Southern California, resulting in highs in the 90s across the L.A. Basin. Elsewhere across the West, this week should average above normal in the Northwest and Great Basin, but temperatures will not be as warm as those observed in California.”
In contrast, Guertin said the summer-like pattern is ending for the South and East. “This week will be a transition week from late summer to autumn-like weather for much of the Midwest, Ohio Valley, Northeast, and South. Highs Monday are forecast to warm into the upper 70’s and lower 80’s across much of the Northeast, but should fall into the 60’s by mid-week. Highs for most of this week will also be in the 60’s in the Midwest and Ohio Valley, and highs across Texas will mainly be in the 70’s, although [Tuesday] may struggle to get out of the upper 60’s in Dallas and Houston.”
Prices in the Northeast showed some of the largest price drops Monday. “Some prices were down almost 50 cents, but nobody wanted any gas,” said a Northeast utility trader. “We have a certain amount of gas that we buy baseload and a portion that is allocated to buy day-to-day. With storage being basically full, we didn’t buy any gas. I was looking to try to trade some gas, but the people I typically sell to weren’t really buying. One guy I typically do business with said the demand from the people he sells to isn’t there, so there really wasn’t much trading. Storage is full and things are quiet, but I am sure that all could change tomorrow.”
Whether most points will continue lower Tuesday is still up for debate, but futures action could lend clues. November natural gas futures broke below the $7 level on Monday. The contract finished at $6.891/MMBtu, which is 15 cents lower than Friday’s close.
On the storm front, it still appears that the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season will end at the end of next month much like the 2006 version — with a whimper instead of a bang. As has been the case for the last couple of weeks, the National Hurricane Center reported Monday afternoon that no tropical cyclone formation is expected over the next few days in the North Atlantic, Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico.
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