Traders saw a down-then-up pattern in many markets Monday asprice ranges tended to remain volatile, though not as large asduring Friday’s meltdown. The ups were smaller than the downs inmost cases, leaving average prices ranging from barely softer to asmuch as a dime lower. Malin saw the greatness weakness with a fallof about 15 cents, even though weekend OFOs at the Northern andSouthern California borders had ended.
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Many of the “incendiary” allegations arising from Natural GasClearinghouse’s (NGC) acquisition of 1.3 Bcf/d of firmtransportation capacity from El Paso Natural Gas – that thecontracted amount far exceeded NGC’s market needs, that NGC hasacquired monopoly control over pipeline capacity into California,that California border prices have shot up as a result, and thatthe contracts contain a “covenant” whereby NGC and El Paso haveagreed not to compete – have generated a lot of smoke, but no realfire, the Houston-based gas marketer says.
Cold weather helped many Western points avoid the prices dropsin the East that generally ranged from a nickel to 15 centsTuesday. It was snowing Monday and Tuesday in the Salt Lake Cityarea and that is expected to continue today, a trader told DailyGPI. Only the Southwest basins and Waha were left out of the West’sfirmness, likely because they were getting no demand support at allfrom intrastate Texas and Midwest markets, sources said.
Although it is widely believed the collapse of crude oil pricescould force many producers to cut back drilling plans this year,Unocal Corp. was the first company to formally confirm ityesterday. Unocal said it will prune its capital spending by about$250 million to $1.3 billion. According to CEO Roger C. Beach thecapital expenditure reductions will come in three areas: near-termproduction projects that are most heavily affected by lower currentcommodity prices, investments in non-oil and gas businesses, andlonger term exploration projects that could benefit from more dataevaluation. The move probably will not have a significant impact onUnocal’s natural gas production, a spokesman said, adding however,some associated gas production could become a casualty in thecutbacks. No specifics were available.