Cash was king for most of the month of June; oftentimes tradingat a premium to the Nymex futures contract. But that seems like adistant memory as cash prices shrugged off some of the season’shottest temperatures to slip, for the second day in a row, by up to5 cents almost across the board. While some traders expressedsurprise at the weakness, others said this is a sign the Nymexscreen is regaining control of market direction.
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FERC turned the heat on pipeline competition in the Colorado andWyoming markets up a notch or two last week when it gave KNWattenberg Transmission the go-ahead to start work on its proposed109-mile Front Runner pipeline project, and gave competitorsWyoming Interstate (WIC) and Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG) thegreen light to carry out the construction of new compression andmetering facilities.
Bears roamed the gas price forest with impunity Friday, sendingall markets down at least a nickel or so and causing severalWestern points to crater. Continued steamy weather in the Southeastand Midcontinent was no match for relatively mild conditions in themajor market areas of the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. Andthe screen’s drop of about 4 cents didn’t lend any support.
In a move to renew PG&E Corp.’s focus entirely on NorthAmerican markets, the utility holding company sold its natural gastransmission pipeline, related facilities and energy tradingoperations in Queensland, Australia to Duke Energy International,LLP.
The relatively small declines in Eastern markets Fridaysurprised some traders. Although down another 2-5 cents overall,pipes in the Gulf Coast and Midcontinent were rebounding late tolevels essentially flat from Thursday. The weakness in Thursdayafternoon’s Access futures trading pushed prices down early Friday,a marketer said, “then things came back up when the Merc showed alittle strength.” Although the screen eventually shed its gains towind up basically unchanged, that occurred too late to impact cashtrading.
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.
Some traders saw little change in April post-weekend pricingMonday, but others reported small to moderate increases. Thatsurprised a few sources because of hearing talk last week that manybuyers planned to wait until Monday to make their purchases,expecting lower prices after futures had expired.
Despite the growing interest by foreign markets and potentialinvestors in the proposed LNG portion of the Trans-Alaska GasSystem (TAGS), the May 22 deadline set by FERC for start-up of theconstruction of the export project will not be met, says thesponsor of the proposed facility. Yukon Pacific Co. L.P. has askedthe Commission to extend the deadline, which was set back in 1995,until May 2001, saying that a refusal by FERC would be a “serioussetback” and might cause it to abandon the LNG project altogether.
Cash prices were mostly higher Monday, but there was littleconsistency from market to market. Western points mostly rangedfrom flat to down a nickel, while Northeast citygates andAppalachian pipes jumped by a nickel or more as snowy conditionsstill lingered in some areas. One forecasting service said the fiveinches of snow dumped in the New York City area over the weekendwas 10 times what it had received all winter.