The $270 million marriage of UtiliCorp United and St. JosephLight & Power (SJLP) is on the rocks following an incidentUtiliCorp said might be a breach of St. Joseph’s contractobligations under the merger agreement.
Articles from Might
A casual observer looking back at yesterday’s natural gasfutures trading might take notice of the somewhat narrow 14-centtrading range and not-so-uncommon-lately 12.1-cent prompt monthgain and conclude that Wednesday was just another ho-hum day at theNew York Mercantile Exchange.
Those in a counting their chickens mode relative to all theplanned new natural gas-fired generating capacity waiting in thewings, might want to consider a new analysis of just how efficientthose new plants will be. Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) ofArlington, VA reckons gas displacement by new more efficientgas-fired combined cycle units will total over 250 Bcf/year inTexas and over 100 Bcf/year in California from 2003-5. That’s notto say gas use will decline, because load growth will swallow upsome of those savings, but “the initial gas demand growth rate inthese key regions will be dampened.” The efficiency factor of theswitch to the latest turbines from older steam generation unitswill be most pronounced in those two states, but will have animpact in other areas as well. EVA’s report, “Outlook for Gas-FiredCapacity Additions,” points to 411 gas turbine projects, generating190,980 MW, which are expected to be completed, primarily betweennow and the end of 2003. Where the new units replace oil or coalgeneration, the switch will be a plus for natural gas, but incertain areas they will be replacing older gas hogs as well. EVA’sforecast is part of its “FUELCAST” study which addresses the longterm outlook for fuel and electricity markets.
“Close, but no cigar” might as well have been the motto for thenatural gas futures market last week. It was a week in whichtraders pushed both May and June contracts to the limits of supportand resistance, only to have prices whip-saw back in their face. Bythe time all the dust had settled and the orders tabulated in thedata room at Nymex, the evidence was irrefutable. Natural gas isonce again stuck in a trading or consolidation range, bounded onone side by previous highs at $3.195 and on the other by a seriesof technical and fundamental hurdles between $2.90 and $3.00. TheMay contract went off the board in rather unspectacular fashionWednesday, settling at $3.089. Buoyed by heavy fund and localbuying Friday, the June contract retraced three straight days oflosses by closing up 8.6 cents at $3.141.
While it might think the April Fool’s date is appropriate forNew York to impose a new energy tax, the National Energy MarketersAssociation (NEM) still opposes the plan. “On April 1, 2000, NewYork will impose a new tax on natural gas and electricitytransportation. This new tax will severely limit furtherdevelopment of energy competition,” said NEM President CraigGoodman.
To say the weather had an impact on the natural gas futuresmarket last week might be the biggest understatement of the newmillennium. After all, not a day went by that neither forecasters’predictions, nor ever-changing weather itself did not play intotraders’ decisions. Add to that the fact different independent andgovernmental forecasting agencies were not always in agreement. Itall came to a head last Friday when prices soared early in the dayin anticipation of the return of cold temperatures in the Northeastfor the weekend, only to come crashing down that afternoon upon therelease of a fresh medium-range forecast for this week. The Marchcontract was the hardest hit by the sell-off, tumbling 2.2 cents tofinish at $2.57 Friday. Less dependent on the near-term forecast,the outer months managed to hold onto small advances into theclose.
They might both be majors, but Chevron U.S.A. Production Co. andShell Exploration & Production Co. still think it’s wise to notgo it alone in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The companieshave agreed to share drilling rigs and jointly drill twoexploratory wells there this year.
Atlanta-based Southern Company Energy Marketing, the energytrading and marketing arm of the nation’s largest producer ofelectricity, agreed in principle to manage the assets ofPan-Alberta Gas Ltd., the second-largest Canadian gas exporter.