Mixed price movement returned to the market Friday following losses at virtually all points a day earlier, but mostly moderate softness stayed highly dominant.
Several scattered locations, most of them in the Northeast, were flat to nearly a dime higher. A large majority of points saw losses ranging from 2-3 cents to a little more than 30 cents; most of the declines were in single digits.
The screen will have a meager amount of support for Monday’s cash trading after the new prompt-month April futures rallied by 4.6 cents Friday (see related story).
The Northeast’s massive snowstorm resulted in the closing of all New York City public schools Friday, and several other school districts in the metropolitan area also shut down for the day. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of residents throughout the Northeast were reportedly without power Friday afternoon.
The regional havoc wreaked by the storm was expected to begin dissipating by Sunday and largely have faded Monday. Curiously, that seemed to have little effect on IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) volumes for Transco Zone 6-New York. ICE said Thursday’s deals covering the Friday-through-Sunday period, when storm conditions would be at their worst, totaled 85,300 MMBtu, but it had more than doubled to 179,000 MMBtu in Friday trading for the relatively calmer period.
The Northeast respite will be brief, according to The Weather Channel, as another winter storm will be approaching from the Southeast. Most of the South itself was due to see lows around freezing or a little lower through the weekend, accompanied by occasionally snow-bearing stormy conditions in the eastern half.
The Midwest was having an especially troublesome time climbing out of the deep freeze, with bottom-end temperatures in the teens and 20s that were expected to continue through the weekend. However, there was some indication of potential moderation in the coming week. It was a same old, same old forecast for the West in general: cold in the Rockies and Western Canada, but with snow largely limited to mountain sections, and cool to mild elsewhere.
PG&E declared a high-inventory OFO for Saturday (see Transportation Notes), but the PG&E citygate was flat while Malin fell less than a dime. On the other side of the U.S., Florida Gas Transmission’s keeping an Overage Alert Day (OAD) in effect through at least Friday failed to prevent the Florida citygate from recording the day’s biggest loss by far. Presumably this was because of Friday’s deals being done for Monday only, by which time the OAD likely will have been canceled.
ONEOK Hydrocarbons had repaired a natural gas liquids line that experienced a leak Thursday morning near Medford, OK (see Daily GPI, Feb. 26), spokesman Megan Washbourne said Friday. However, because ONEOK was performing necessary integrity investigations, there was still no timeline on when full processing operations along the line would be restored, she said.
Despite the lack of a ONEOK timeline, one Midcontinent source reported hearing that some of the plants may not be able to start up until Monday, and he was not sure why it might take that long. Some affected companies are taking significant losses on the interruption of processing revenues, he said, because several pipelines are refusing to accept unprocessed gas. A few operators were trying to divert such gas into Southern Star Central, he added, but that pipe also has begun rejecting it, citing high Btu content and hydrocarbon dew point levels.
A couple more utility buyers Friday reported having been nonparticipants in bidweek trading.
One in the Midwest said local temperatures had gotten to six below zero as recently as last Tuesday, but conditions mostly in the 30s are due this week, which will feel comparatively mild after the frigid weather in January and February. It’s because of that weather that area citizens are “trying to avoid the potholes” in local roadways, he said.
The buyer said he made no baseload purchases for March, adding that term deals and storage should satisfy most, if not all, of the utility’s customer needs for the month. At this point it’s a question of only “maybe” returning to the monthly market in April, he said. His company expects to be still pulling storage during the month since unlike other pipes, Northern Natural Gas doesn’t officially begin its injection season until June.
A utility buyer in the Northeast had pretty much the same reasons — winter term deals and storage — for bypassing bidweek business. “We even backed off a little on our winter term volumes” to make sure the company could meet its storage pull requirements, he said, adding that “of course, about a month from now we’ll be looking at storage from the other direction” (that is, starting injections).
Despite the doubts of some, winter will end eventually; “I’m positive of it,” the buyer said, adding that his area might even get a slight break as early as the coming week. He noted that areas inland from the Atlantic Ocean were being spared a bit more than coastal areas in the Northeast’s weekend storms.
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