Texas’ power generation capacity continues to grow with two newmerchant plants, one just coming on line and one announced foroperation in 1999. California-based Calpine Corp. said its 240 MWgas-fired Pasadena 1 Power Plant began producing power for thederegulated Texas wholesale market, just in time to help meet peaksummer power demand. The plant, under construction since 1997, cameon-line three months ahead of schedule and about $21 million underbudget. The $131 million power plant is selling power under short-,mid- and long-term contracts and into the open market. Pasadena 1will generate up to 240 MW.
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The Energy Information Administration continues to be bearish ongas wellhead prices this year but expects prices to remain abovethe $2/Mcf mark because of the possibility that temperatures willbe higher than normal this summer and coal delivery problems maypersist in Texas. In its May Short Term Energy Outlook, the EIAsaid it expects wellhead prices to average $2.15/Mcf this year,down 3.6% from the $2.23/Mcf average in 1997.
Cash prices were down again Wednesday in response to typicalshoulder month lack of cooling demand and downward pressure fromfalling Nymex futures prices. The futures drop of about 8 cents ledmost cash points down by amounts in the same neighborhood orgreater. However, there were mild rebounds occurring late, said atrader in the Gulf Coast and Southwest markets.
The number of proposed major pipeline projects on schedule forservice in winter 1999 continues to dwindle, with IndependencePipeline telling FERC yesterday it plans to delay service by a yearuntil November 2000. The pipeline’s sponsors said the $678 millionproject will be delayed because of the lengthy construction timerequired. FERC still has not approved the project. Markets for the400-mile pipeline system also have been slow to develop, butsponsors said they recently executed an additional precedentagreement with Eastern Energy Marketing for 99,000 Dth/d of firmtransportation capacity, bringing subscriptions to nearly 70% ofthe pipeline’s 916 MMcf/d capacity.
The Western Natural Gas Futures contract on the Kansas CityBoard of Trade has continued its rapid expansion, with openinterest surpassing 9,000 contracts for the first time everTuesday. KCBT said long-time participants have been “putting onincreasingly large positions” and “a number of new participantsalso have entered the market.” A floor trader mentioned PG&Eand Southern Energy Marketing as being two big players. KN Energy,Oneok and Duke alsowere reported as recent big entrants.
For now, Nova Gas Transmission continues to handle about 80%(4.5 Tcf in 1997, or 12.3 Bcf/d) of Canadian gas on its provincialgathering grid because Alberta remains both the biggest producerand center of growth in output. But expectations of serious growthin British Columbia showed clearly when the National Energy Boardvisited the province’s resource development frontier of Fort St.John for regional hearings on the Alliance Pipeline Project
The March Nymex contract inched 3.2 cents higher to $2.270 onThursday, amid a session sources agreed was once again dominated bytechnicals. “This looks like a very strong trading range, sotoday’s result was to be expected,” a trader said. “March drifted afew cents toward the bottom of its range on Wednesday, so it makessense the contract would move higher today. Because the tradingrange is so tight right now, that is limiting how much March can goup,” he said.