After watching the market free-fall 7.1 cents to kick off theweek, bulls dug in their heels Tuesday at Nymex. While they weren’table to recoup much of Monday’s declines, they did prevent anyfurther losses. As a result, the futures market was stagnantyesterday, with the July contract limited to an extremely tight3-cent trading range before settling up 0.1 at $2.238.
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The cash market finally broke free from the doldrums that hadbecalmed much of it earlier this week and found a direction inwhich to move Thursday-mostly down a few cents in the East. Sourcescited the decline in the Henry Hub futures contract for July as themain reason for eastern cash drops that ranged up to a nickel orso. However, continued warm to hot weather kept air conditionershumming in the West, and the resultant power generation load forgas rendered most of the region’s trading points resistant to thegeneral softness. Western quotes tended to be flat to up a penny.
After gapping lower at the open for the second day in a row,natural gas futures continued to free-fall in lackluster holidaytrading Monday. Weak cash market pricing and a quicklydeteriorating technical picture were cited as reasons for the10.2-cent decline in the November contract. By settling at $2.089,November has dropped over 30 cents in the last three tradingsessions.
Washington Water Power (WWP) and CheckFree plan to makeInternet-based electronic bill paying an option for WWP’s 350,000residential electric and gas customers. By using CheckFree’s E-Billservice, customers will be able to receive full-color WashingtonWater Power bills at no charge — complete with graphics, logos andfull billing detail — through the World Wide Web. Once they haveenrolled, customers can view and pay their Washington Water Powerbills on line. Washington Water Power, whose primary service areacovers eastern Washington, north Idaho, and central Oregon, plansto rollout CheckFree E-Bill in mid-November.
There will be no free rides on Canada’s newest gas supplyfrontier, after Nova Scotia’s Liberal government established aroyalty regime that it admits puts it on the expensive side ofoffshore development areas by international standards.
California regulators last week liberalized the use of utilityemployees in non-utility energy affiliate companies as part oftheir action finalizing a set of rules on the interaction betweenthe state’s three major electricity utilities and their affiliatedcompanies. With the advent of retail electric competition each ofthe utilities have several unregulated affiliates offering energysupplies and related services.
The current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tariffon gas imports into Mexico is holding up pipeline development fromthe U.S. to northern Mexico, said consultant George Baker of Baker& Associates. “The only people that have to pay this tariff arethe private industry who would contract with a U.S. gas supplier.If they buy [gas] from Pemex [Petroleos Mexicanos], however, it’s arolled-in price and they don’t pay it.” The tariff, originally 10%in 1991, is rolled back 1% a year and currently stands at 5%.That’s still too high for the private sector to feel confident itcan make money shipping gas to Mexico, Baker told attendees Tuesdayat the conference portion of Houston Energy Expo ’98, formerlyknown as Gas Fair. “That’s an important delay, and the origin of itis largely Pemex’s wanting to say, ‘we’re not ready for competitionyet.’ Some people say, ‘have you ever heard of a state monopolythat has acknowledged that it’s ready for competition yet.’ Mostpeople say no.”