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Spreading Cold Keeps Most Cash Prices Rising
A moderate majority of points were up again Tuesday as a mix of rain and snow is expected to move into the Northeast and parts of the Mid-Atlantic before fading Thursday, and except for the eastern end of the South most regions can expect bottom-end temperatures ranging from the vicinity of freezing to much lower. Monday’s 12.3-cent screen dive had only a moderate impact on the softening locations.
Nearly all of the points that dropped 2-3 cents to about 15 cents were in the West or Midcontinent/Midwest, despite well below freezing low forecasts for Wednesday in the Rockies, Western Canada and Midcontinent/Midwest. The rest of the market saw mostly single-digit gains in ranging from flat to a little more than a quarter higher, with the largest increases clustered in the Northeast.
On Wednesday the cash market will see its first prior-day futures support since last Friday’s trading after Nymex’s prompt-month eked out a small gain of 2.6 cents (see related story).
The Henry Hub-CIG basis spread narrowed substantially from Monday’s 14 cents, but CIG maintained a premium of about 2 cents Tuesday. Kern River quotes ran nearly a dime higher than the hub.
Northern Natural Gas said its Upper Midwest market area is expected to “warm up” from a system-weighted average of 15 Tuesday to 22 Wednesday before frigid conditions return to take the average to 13 Thursday and 12 Friday.
Transwestern extended a systemwide low-linepack Alert Day through at least Wednesday. Southwest Gas issued a hold burn to scheduled quantities notice in response to Transwestern’s Alert Day (see Transportation Notes). Despite being low on linepack, Transwestern-West Texas recorded the day’s biggest loss.
Despite recent efforts to build linepack in anticipation of colder market-area weather, El Paso said it had set the probability of declaring a strained operating condition to high due to low linepack. However, Westcoast said Tuesday its linepack had returned to normal levels after being undesirably high a day earlier.
A Gulf Coast marketer said the widespread colder weather was driving spreads from the Gulf Coast production area to the Northeast market area wider (the Henry Hub-Transco Zone 6-New York pool gap was at 35 cents Monday but reached about 45 cents Tuesday). He expected the extra boost from Tuesday’s futures uptick to supplement residual cold weather in extending cash firmness at least one more day Wednesday. However, something of a lull in trading activity has set in for the holiday period.
The marketer said the primary effect his company has seen from the rupture of a Transco line in southern Alabama (see Transportation Notes) is Gulf South shippers being limited on what they can sell into Transco in the upstream Station 65 area.
IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper anticipates a storage withdrawal of 3 Bcf being reported for the week ending Dec. 2. Credit Suisse’s Stefan Revielle checked in with a larger expectation of a 7 Bcf pull. And Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said his final projection of an 11 Bcf withdrawal is up from his original estimate of 6 Bcf.
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