Plant operator Williams Field Services declared force majeure after the Opal Plant in Wyoming experienced an emergency shutdown due to a power outage about 5:25 p.m. MDT Thursday, but the plant outage ended around 1 a.m. Friday, according to a representative of Jonah Gathering System behind Opal. A WFS spokesman later confirmed that the outage didn’t last much more than six hours and operations were resumed immediately after the power was restored. However, WFS made this bulletin board posting Friday: “As a result of this situation field units across the system were knocked offline. Field technicians continue to work diligently to bring gas back onto the system. Nominations were kept whole for gas day 04/07/05; however, Williams will need to make up the interconnect pipeline shortfall by lowering the EFM tolerance going forward until the imbalance has been eliminated. Shippers should expect to see market cuts for the next several days.” Kern River was reporting low linepack Friday in its farthest upstream segment (Muddy Creek to Elberta), which a spokesman confirmed was a result of the Opal shortfall. Kern River encouraged shippers in that segment to resolve any due-pipeline imbalance paybacks.
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Despite a late selloff in the nearby crude oil pit, natural gas futures held yesterday as traders continued to cover shorts amid modestly constructive technicals and bullish expectations ahead of today’s storage report. With that the March contract made it five in a row Tuesday, as it posted a 1.9-cent gain to close at $2.305. By contrast, March crude gave back half of Monday’s $1.15 advance to finish at $20.73 a barrel.
Feeding off late gains achieved Thursday, natural gas futuresrumbled higher Friday as traders continued to look past theoverwhelmingly bearish short- and medium-term weather outlook tofocus instead on the potential for higher prices this summer. Withthat upward bias, the March contract advanced 5.4 cents to settleat $2.603, just a fraction of a cent below the $2.61 Februarysettle, but nearly a dollar above the $1.666 March 1999 closingprice.
Fresh off a 5-cent rally in Wednesday night’s Access session thefutures market bulldozed higher yesterday amid light speculativebuying. July finished its first day as the prompt month up 7.2cents to $2.282, after notching a $2.30 high early Thursdayafternoon. Estimated volume was heavy, with 85,664 contractschanging hands.