Natural gas and coal producers have a couple of gripes in common: mild weather and high stockpiles of both commodities. But they’re not likely to be seen drowning their sorrows together as gas continues to undercut coal on price and swipe market share among power generators.
Articles from Mild
Natural gas cash prices continued to erode Thursday as mild weather conditions prevailed in many parts of the country. Declines in the East and Northeast were mostly of the 1-3 cent variety, but on the West Coast losses of close to a dime were noted. Futures traders digested an inventory report showing the first build of the season at 11 Bcf, slightly greater than what traders were expecting and prices fell. At the close of futures trading April was down by 9.1 cents to $2.269 and May settled 8.2 cents lower at $2.372. May crude oil dropped $1.92 to $105.35/bbl.
With natural gas prices at 10-year lows thanks to an extremely mild winter and robust production from U.S. shale gas basins, natural gas price bulls have been cooling their heels for months, not days. However, as producers lay down gas rigs or redirect them to more liquids-rich plays, analysts are eager to pinpoint a date on the calendar when the cuts to drilling will translate into a tighter supply/demand balance, thus giving prices a floor and the ability to rebound.
The cash market continued lower in Friday trading for weekend through Monday delivery as market participants noted continuing mild weather and the movement of gas out of storage into the market. Particular weakness was noted in the desert Southwest, southern California, Rockies and Northeast points.
Both cash and futures markets fell Tuesday following weather reports that suggested a mild March and incorporated little in the way of blocking patterns necessary for any large-scale cold influx. Notable exceptions were New England and eastern points, which experienced double-digit price erosion as almost spring-like conditions were forecast for Boston and portions of the East Coast.
Strange creature, this spot gas market. Prices rise for two days when generally mild weather doesn’t appear to justify it; then when heating load-boosting cold either begins to show up or is in the next-day forecasts, the climb falters Wednesday and all trading locations but one drop. Only two of the declines were by less than double-digit amounts.
Natural gas prices were a mixed bag on Tuesday with mild weather and tumbling prices in the Northeast offset by nominal gains in other most other regions as traders grappled with the combination of stronger futures prices and a winter storm lashing the Great Plains.
January natural gas plunged Wednesday as traders attempted to factor in an ever-increasing storage surplus and noted continued mild weather projections. At the close January had tumbled 14.3 cents to $3.136 and February had fallen 13.4 cents to $3.187. January crude oil imploded $5.19 to $94.95/bbl.
Despite a return of spring-like weather bringing cool to mild temperatures to the South, wintry conditions occasionally abetted by snowfalls proved sufficient to rally a majority of points Tuesday, although flat performances were common and most of the gains were in single digits.