Natural gas futures continued lower yesterday and were able tobreak through a key support level. The June contract finished 4.5cents lower at $2.191 after mapping out a $2.17 low for the day.
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After see-sawing 2 cents on either side of unchanged for much ofthe Nymex trading session yesterday, the futures market rumbledhigher late in the day to finish near its high. The June contractfinished up 2.9 cents at $2.302, which places it squarely in themiddle of its recent $2.205-$2.405 trading range. Estimated volumewas a relatively light 32,280.
Barrett Resources was one of the few independent producers ableto emerge from the first quarter with an increase in earningscompared to last year and it achieved the growth through gastrading operations. Revenues from Barrett’s trading division soared136% to $176 million in 1Q99 from 1Q98 and the division reported agross profit of $15.1 million compared to $4.9 million for theprior year first quarter. First quarter trading volumes increased156% to 96 Bcf, or about 1.07 Bcf/d. Barrett reported net income of$7.7 million, or 24 cents per diluted share, compared to $6.2million, or 19 cents per diluted share, for 1Q98.
The typical slump in gas demand that accompanies a weekend wasable to coax a smidgen of softness out of the cash marketFriday-but just barely. Flatness was the word at quite a fewpoints, and decreases at others only rarely exceeded 2-3 cents.Sources continued to remark on how relatively stable the marketfeels even when prices come off a little.
Citing such factors as customer cooperation and recent storageactivity in March, ANR said it was able to rescind a Februarynotice requiring that interruptible storage customers under the MBSand DDS rate schedules draw their accounts down to a zero balanceby today. However, the pipeline added, due to abnormally highinventory balances remaining and overall operational concerns, itmust continue to limit interruptible injections “for theforeseeable future.”
Details were still somewhat sparse Saturday, but Northwest Pipeline was able to confirm that there had been a line failure on its pipeline near Stevenson, WA Friday night about 8:20 (PST). Personnel were immediately dispatched to the site to secure the area. As of press time Saturday, no injuries were reported and the cause of the incident was under investigation.
Natural gas futures closed higher after a weak start yesterdayas traders were able to look past the dismal fundamental outlook tofocus on the short-covering activity at hand. That lifted the Marchcontract a modest 3.4 cents to finish at $1.86 on its first day asthe prompt month.
The FERC staff has indicated it may not be able to finish itsenvironmental review of the proposed New York-bound MillenniumPipeline in time for the Commission to issue a final certificate byJune 1, 1999, as the pipeline has requested. But even if this turnsout to be the case, project sponsor Columbia Gas Transmission saysit still intends to meet the planned in-service date of Nov. 1,2000. That would coincide with the start-up date for the AlliancePipeline.
The futures market was able to sustain another day of weakercash prices Friday to trade on either side of unchanged on the day.A late rally on weak volume after many traders in New York andHouston had called it a week was the market’s only excitement forthe day and provided the November contract with a 1.4-cent boostgoing into the weekend to settle at $2.109.
Coastal Corp. was able to buck the trend of poor second quarterearnings by improving refining margins, increasing its gasproduction 22% to 526 MMcf/d and raising its crude oil andcondensate production by 50% to18,063 b/d. The company reportedsecond quarter earnings of $94.6 million, or 43 cents per share, up23% (on a per share basis) from 2Q97 earnings of $79.3 million, 35cents/share.