Feeding off Wednesday’s strong close, natural gas futures spikedhigher yesterday morning, but ultimately finished lower in anextremely quiet session. After notching a new life of contract highat $2.90 shortly before noon (EST), April was hit with light profittaking which demoted the contract to $2.851, a 1.5-cent loss forthe session.
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After a tumultuous morning rally and retreat, natural gas pickedits way higher yesterday as traders looked past a mixed technicalpicture to focus instead on the possible reemergence of seasonaltemperatures by week’s end. The April contract advanced 2.5 centsto $2.85. However, the real stories were in the out months, whichgalloped higher to post gains of 3.4 cents and 3.5 cents for thesummer and 12-month strips respectively.
Tennessee expects its 300 Line in northern Pennsylvania to returnto service today following completion of repairs to Sunday morning’srupture (see Daily GPI, Feb. 29). Unlessconditions change, the pipeline will accept intra-day Cycle 1nomination increases beginning at 5 p.m. CST for all meters downstreamof Main Line Valve 314.
Northwest reported experiencing a failure of the Unit #4compressor at its Soda Springs (ID) Station Wednesday morning dueto damaged rings and cylinders. Cause of the damage is beinginvestigated. Northwest said it was able to maintain scheduledquantities that day, but starting today capacity through SodaSprings will be limited to 445,000 Dth/d. This will not require anycuts in Primary Firm nominations, the pipeline said. It estimatedthe compressor will be back in service March 2.
Although yesterday afternoon was filled with bearish weather andfutures market news, an early morning futures screen rally combinedwith large price jumps in the Northeast to lead most points on thesurvey to increases of a few cents to more than a nickel.
A futures screen that was almost a dime higher during morningcash trading and continued cold temperatures were enough to allowprices to put even more distance between themselves and indexesTuesday. Meanwhile, transport-constrained Northeast citygates wereback for a repeat performance of their skyrocket act from lateJanuary.
Boosted by another morning of strong cash prices, the futuresmarket trudged higher Wednesday as traders gained optimism thatprices may have found a bottom. But that speculation could be a bitpremature because as soon as bulls finished pushing the Januarycontract 1.7 cents higher to its $2.288 settlement the bears tookit lower in after-hours trading. Even a bullish storage report didnot help to dissuade the late selling pressure.
Natural gas traders were greeted yesterday morning by somethingseldom seen in recent years – a serious blast of below normaltemperatures in the key gas-consuming Northeast U.S. But evensub-freezing temperatures and gale force winds, which are expectedfor much of the eastern seaboard today, were not enough to overcomethe deleterious effects of forecasts calling for a quick return toabove-normal temperatures by the weekend. After an early buyingsurge failed to punch through $2.42, the January contract cameunder a heavy wave of selling that propelled prices lower to finishat $2.304, a 4.8-cent decline for the day.
Williams Field Services declared force majeure following aThursday morning fire and explosion at its Opal (WY) Lean OilPlant. The fire started about 6:30 a.m. MDT and a rich-oil heaterexploded shortly thereafter. The Lean Oil Plant was removed fromservice but two cryogenic units remained on-line. Volumes throughOpal were reduced to 430 MMcf/d from a normal maximum capacity of700 MMcf/d. However, WFS said it “does not anticipate significantreductions” in overall gas gathered behind the plant or in tailgatedeliveries to interconnecting pipelines.
A Matagorda Offshore Pipeline System 24-inch line leak at theMustang Island 758 delivery point was confirmed Wednesday morning,causing the shut-in of 17 of the 24 producing blocks connected toMOPS. Shippers and operators were being notified around noonWednesday that the outage, affecting a total of 129,743 MMbtu/d,will last about seven days.