Columbia Energy CEO Oliver G. (Rick) Richard gazed deep into acrystal ball yesterday for the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgiaand saw thousands of municipal gas customers using the Internet tochoose from among a plethora of alternative gas suppliers. All themunicipals saw through that crystal, however, was Richard on theother side.
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The May Nymex contract continued its spirited dive into lowerterritory Thursday by falling another 7.0 cents to settle at$3.328. May has now lost nearly a quarter since Tuesday, andestimated volume has totaled more than 250,000 contracts over thelast two days. “The amount of trading volume has been incredible.Of course, open interest had been at an all time high, so theseheavier trading days should be expected. Much of this is the workof speculative funds who continue to take profits and exit theiropen positions ahead of May’s expiration next Tuesday,” a sourcetold GPI.
Northwest Natural Gas and NIPSCO subsidiary NI Energy Services(NESI) have combined Canadian exploration and productionsubsidiaries into one company, Canor Energy Ltd., to “ramp upgrowth prospects and increase competitiveness.” NW combinedsubsidiary Canor Energy with NESI’s Southlake Energy March 31through the purchase of Southlake’s stock in exchange for shares inCanor. The new Canor is 66% owned by NW Natural and 34% owned byNESI. The combined company has a production volume approaching4,000 boe/d. Natural gas equivalent reserves total more than 120Bcf.
The May Nymex contract surged 13.3 cents to $2.668 Wednesday,despite cash market prices which remained relatively unchanged. Thereason why? “Who really knows, but what I do know enough funds wereconvinced this market was a play to trigger buy stops above $2.61.Estimated volume of more than 80,000 contracts tells you that,” asource told GPI.
Syntroleum Corp., the developer and owner of a proprietaryprocess for converting natural gas into synthetic crude oil, andSLH Corp., which owns about 31% of Syntroleum, agreed to merge in astock-for-stock deal, which has been approved by the boards of bothcompanies.
Laclede Gas Co. and Williams agreed to provide additional gasservice into the St. Louis area through a project that will expandthe Williams Gas Pipelines Central service area eastward fromKansas City to the St. Louis area. The project involves conversionof an existing 200-mile Williams petroleum pipeline to gas service.Williams also will install new compression, pipeline and deliveryfacilities. The project is fully subscribed, and firm service isexpected to begin in the fourth quarter.
Cash prices continued to drop going into the weekend asexpected. Moderating weather and the usual lower weekend loads werethe obvious reasons for softening, sources said. Despite theoverall downward trend, falls were only 1-3 cents on several pipesin the Gulf Coast and Midcontinent. Again, the points that hadrisen most rapidly earlier in the week-such as Northeast citygates,Northern Natural-demarc and Waha-were the ones seeing the steepestdeclines.
PG&E Corp. and Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corp. (UDS)announced yesterday they had signed a letter of intent to enterinto what is probably the largest energy purchase alliance to datein the industry, representing about $2 billion in electricity,natural gas and steam purchases over a seven-year period. UDS isone of the largest independent refiners in the U.S., with sevenrefineries in the U.S. and Canada processing 650,000 barrels perday, 6,400 branded retail gasoline/convenience stores, and a largehome heating oil business in the Northeast.
Reacting to frigid weather spreading into the Southeast, Sonatis implementing an Operational Flow Order Type 3 effective todayfor four groups: Birmingham Group, South Main Zone 2, South MainZone 3 and Brunswick Line. The OFO will be extended Wednesday tothe East of Wrens and Savannah Line groups. Due to compressorproblems, Sonat said, the level of interruptible service in the twoSouth Main zones will be less than normal in limitation periods. Inaddition, an OFO Type 22 notice to become effective Wednesday forseven groups was issued by Sonat affiliate South Georgia NaturalGas.