The cash market was approximately evenly mixed in up and down movement Wednesday as weather vagaries and the previous day’s screen downturn tugged at prices in varying ways. In general the West and Midcontinent were softer, while the Gulf Coast, Midwest and Northeast were mixed but leaning mostly to the upside.
Flat performances were fairly common as gains ranged from 2-3 cents to a little more than 35 cents. Losses ran as high as about 40 cents.
Tuesday’s 20.4-cent decline by December futures contributed to the softening portion of cash numbers, and the contract showed even greater weakness as it expired Wednesday in a 35.4-cent slide. That was expected to result in falling physical prices Thursday at most if not all points.
The South and Midwest, which had seen modest warming trends Wednesday, will shift into reverse Thursday with drops of 10 degrees or so in many locations. The Northeast also will change its weather course, but in its case temperatures will be rising. The Rockies will continue to see lows in the teens Thursday but highs will be going up. Most of the rest of the West will essentially maintain the status quo.
Except for a flat Northwest-domestic, the Rockies recorded losses despite a supply shortfall issue. A force majeure event Tuesday at the Opal Plant reduced supplies available to Kern River, and the pipeline said it was unable to keep customers whole due to having experienced low linepack for the past few days as shippers drafted the system (see Transportation Notes).
A Rockies marketer said the Opal situation had relatively little market impact, noting that Kern River’s capacity reduction at the Veyo Compressor Station was “not major.” His company had about 30 MMcf/d scheduled out of the Opal Plant and only got about 1.6 MMcf/d of it cut, he said.
The marketer was trying to wrap up bidweek business Wednesday. December prices in the Rockies were “all over the place,” he said, quoting a range of $6.15 to $5.80, with the trend being downward due to the Nymex drop.
El Paso’s two San Juan Basin pools, which had been strong Tuesday after the pipeline declared a Strained Operating Condition (SOC) due to low linepack, were flat to down about a nickel Wednesday with the SOC being lifted Thursday (see Transportation Notes).
Sumas gained a little more than a dime amid overall Rockies/Pacific Northwest softness as Northwest kept a Stage II Overrun Entitlement in place north of the Kemmerer (WY) Compressor Station, which encouraged Sumas purchases.
“You’d think that cash would fall Thursday” due to the big futures drop, said a Midcontinent marketer. But he was unsure, he said, because weather forecasts keep changing, “and we get multiple ones each day.” The market seems “a bit panicky” right now, he added.
He noted that Northern Natural-Ventura prices continued to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the Midcontinent, trading nearly as high as Columbia Gas in Appalachia. That’s largely because Northern has more takeaway capacity at Ventura than Northern Border can fill, “so Northern essentially has to steal gas from the Chicago citygate” to fill Ventura nominations, he said.
The screen drop caused December bidweek fixed prices to fall again Wednesday, much as they had done Tuesday, the marketer continued. However, that also induced basis to get stronger again, he said. For some reason index and basis deals have been harder than usual to make, he said, but fixed-price deals have been readil available.
A Midwest marketer reported basis purchases of plus 23 cents and plus 21 cents at the Consumers Energy and MichCon citygates, respectively.
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