Natural gas prices for October fell an average 12 cents from Sept. 1 to 6 as a trifecta of factors created the only logical path for forward markets during the short holiday week, according to NGI’s Forward Look. NGI was closed Sept. 4 in observance of Labor Day.
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Basic Energy Services Inc. said its drilling rig days in November slumped to 59 from 298 in the year-ago period. The utilization rate was 16%, versus 83% a year ago and 13% in October.
January natural gas is expected to open 2 cents lower Thursday morning at $2.15 as traders juggle storage data expected to show the first withdrawal of the season with the holiday weekend. Overnight oil markets recovered moderately.
Physical natural gas prices on average gained a penny Tuesday with traders seeing no immediate need to make purchases during a holiday-muted trading week. Upper Midwest points added a couple of cents, and West Coast citygate prices were lower as forecasts of power demand were tempered. At the close, August futures were up 7.7 cents to $3.654 and September had added 7.8 cents to $3.651. August crude oil rose $1.61 to $99.60/bbl.
The cash market overall surged on average by 17 cents Tuesday as traders scrambled to make up volumes not purchased going into the long holiday weekend, screen prices initiated a solid advance to close at the high end of the day’s range, and traders hinted at expectations of a bullish storage report Thursday. At the close of futures trading, October was 5.5 cents higher at $2.854 and November had added 3.7 cents to $3.000. October crude oil tumbled $1.17 to $95.30/bbl.
The cash market added on average about 4 cents Tuesday for Wednesday and Thursday delivery as traders had to reconcile typical low holiday demand with higher weather-driven requirements as sections of the East and Midwest were expected to grapple with heat and humidity. The only points down on the day could be found in the Marcellus Shale production zone and a handful of spots in California and the West.
Prices fell at all but two points Tuesday in the start of the third holiday-shortened trading period in less than a month. The softness appeared to defy cooling trends forecast for Wednesday in the Midwest and South while the Northeast gave up Friday’s big gains even with lows below freezing remaining in the next-day forecast.
Just before the New Year holiday, separate federal court actions dealt body blows to stiffer air pollution limits on vehicles and power plants. Industry sources hailed the rulings as a break for consumers facing higher fuel and energy costs.
Saying it had limited operational flexibility to manage imbalances in upstream Zones 0, L, 1, 2, 3 and 4 over the long holiday weekend, Tennessee issued an Imbalance Warning for shippers in those zones effective Friday until further notice. Affected delivery point operators are required to keep actual daily takes out of the system equal to or greater than scheduled quantities regardless of their cumulative imbalance position. Receipt point operators must keep actual daily receipts into the system equal to or less than scheduled quantities regardless of their cumulative imbalance position.