Cash natural gas prices eked out a modest gain Wednesday, but traders were not optimistic prices would hold current relatively lofty levels for long. A soft bidweek is expected. Midcontinent points were firm and at Northeast and Eastern locations double-digit increases in next-day power prices helped lift next day gas. At the close of futures trading August had fallen 11.7 cents to $3.070 and September was lower by 12.5 cents to $3.052. September crude oil added 47 cents to $88.97/bbl.
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Nabors Industries Ltd., North America’s largest onshore drilling contractor, expects operating results in the second quarter to fall below Wall Street expectations, primarily because of a slump in pressure pumping services and higher operations costs. To improve efficiencies, the company plans to consolidate its U.S. well servicing and pressure pumping operations.
The cash market overall on average tallied a four cent gain Thursday as the market piggy-backed off the screen’s nearly 12 cent advance Wednesday and points in the East were expected to see well above normal temperatures. Most cash points proved strong with the exception of a handful of spots in the Northeast. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a build of 61 Bcf, a bit more than the market was expecting and futures eased. At the close of futures trading June had fallen 2.4 cents to $2.594 and July fell 1.4 cents to $2.673. June crude oil continued lower falling 25 cents to $92.56/bbl.
Focusing on oil and natural gas liquids (NGL) has paid off for small exploration and production (E&P) companies, which are expected to gain from rapid production and reserve growth, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Despite an overall production gain for natural gas, companies participating in the Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) North American natural gas marketer survey reported a 2 Bcf/d decline in sales volumes in 2011 compared with 2010, according to and NGI’s 2011 Top North American Gas Marketers Ranking.
The freefall in natural gas futures prices of the last few weeks received a small reprieve on Friday after the February contract managed to eke out a 2.1-cent gain to close the week at $2.343. However, market bulls might as well cool their heels as Friday’s close marked a 32.7-cent decline from the previous week’s close.
While the January 2012 natural gas futures contract managed to eek out a 3.2-cent gain in Tuesday’s regular session to close at $3.128, bullish traders remain a rare breed as prices are still more than a dollar below where they were one year ago.
January natural gas managed a tempered gain Tuesday on stout volume, but traders were not dissuaded that the current downtrend was over and looked for a test in the low $3s. At the close January had risen 2.5 cents to $3.279 and February had gained 2.7 cents to $3.321. January crude gained a hefty $2.37 to $100.14/bbl.
Natural gas futures posted a nominal gain Thursday following the release of government storage figures showing a greater withdrawal than the market was expecting. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported natural gas inventories fell by 20 Bcf for the week ended Dec. 2, much greater than estimates centered closer to 9 Bcf. At the close January had added 3.6 cents to $3.457, and February had risen by 2.8 cents to $3.486. January crude oil tumbled $2.15 to $98.34/bbl as oil markets elected to follow slumping equity markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 199 points to 11,998.