Despite a late selloff in the nearby crude oil pit, natural gas futures held yesterday as traders continued to cover shorts amid modestly constructive technicals and bullish expectations ahead of today’s storage report. With that the March contract made it five in a row Tuesday, as it posted a 1.9-cent gain to close at $2.305. By contrast, March crude gave back half of Monday’s $1.15 advance to finish at $20.73 a barrel.
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In tandem with heavy losses in the nearby crude oil and related products markets, natural gas futures shifted lower Wednesday as traders weighed the impact that fuel switching could have on prices this winter. The latest storage report from the American Gas Association (a 7 Bcf injection) rocked prices first lower and then higher, before the December contract finished the session back in the middle of the its daily trading range, down 4.4% at $2.676. December crude oil futures finished with an 8.6% loss at $19.80, its lowest close on a spot month basis since July 1999.
Pressured by the release of another in a string of bearish weather forecasts and in sympathy with losses seen in the nearby crude oil pit, natural gas futures plumbed new three-week lows Monday, as traders continued to liquidate longs acquired during the month of October. The December contract never recovered from its 7-cent gap-lower open and finished with a 19.2-cent loss at $2.733.
On the heels of fresh storage news and in sympathy with gains achieved in the nearby crude oil pit, natural gas futures rebounded from their morning lows Thursday as scale-down buying interest lifted the market to its first positive close since the New York Mercantile Exchange reopened for business last Friday. Buying was almost uniform across all contracts, with November edging out the rest of the strip with a 3.7-cent advance to close at $2.464. October followed not far behind, gaining 3.5 cents to finish at $2.137.
With regulatory approvals expected soon to tie into a nearbypipeline, the N-01 well at Fort Liard in the Northwest Territoriesshould begin producing by the second quarter, according to one ofthe operators, Berkley Petroleum Corp. Berkley operates the wellwith partners Forest Oil Corp. and Paramount, with each holding a33.33% interest. Paramount operates the pipeline.
Despite tumbling prices in the nearby cash market, natural gasfutures held their ground Tuesday as buyers were comforted byextremely oversold conditions and supportive intermediate-termtechnicals. After trading within a wide, 20-cent swath yesterday,the December contract finished at $4.49, a narrow 0.5-cent increasefor the session.
Amid easing tensions in the Middle East and a price pullback inthe nearby crude oil trading pit, natural gas futures were softerFriday, as traders elected to take profits following last week’salmost 80-cent rally. The November contract finished at $5.537,down 9.3 cents on the day, and 24.3 cents off Thursday’s pricepeak.
Fueled by gains in nearby crude oil pit, it was up, up and awayonce again for natural gas futures as traders added to their betsthat the market will experience supply woes this winter. As itturns out, that was more than enough buying to propel natural gasfutures to double gains and the second highest prompt monthsettlement price in the commodity’s 10-year history.
Eager hunters of new supplies will have to wait a while forclear word on whether a promising nearby natural gas frontier willopen up again offshore of British Columbia’s western coastline. TheB.C. government is spreading a word of caution after industryanalysts and representatives put an enticing spin on statementsmade by provincial energy minister Dan Miller during appearances atthe 16th World Petroleum Congress last month in Calgary.
Setting aside vociferous local opposition from nearby propertyowners and a proposed denial from one of its administrative lawjudges (ALJ), the California Public Utilities Commission Thursdaygave the go-ahead to a proposed $80 million underground natural gasstorage field near Lodi in Northern California.