FERC made three small but significant changes to its pipelinerate of return policy this week, winning the praise of theInterstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), whichrepresents the pipelines. INGAA President Jerald V. Halvorsen saidthe Commission’s action “should help pipelines compete in theincreasingly competitive financial markets for the capital to buildprojects that are necessary to meet projections of a 30 Tcf naturalgas economy by 2010.”
Articles from Small
Small gains dominated the late-July incremental cash marketWednesday. Positioning for cash-outs was the primary reason forfirmness in the Midcontinent and Gulf Coast, according to aproducer; “there’s not much else to base it on.” Predictably,incremental business tended to get shoved onto a back burner as theHenry Hub futures contract for August expired.
A casual glance at the futures table — its narrow trading rangeand its small daily change — would lead one to believe Wednesdaywas a relatively quiet expiration day at Nymex, during which theAugust contract was ushered off the board at $1.942. ButWednesday’s trading was anything but ordinary. Traders wereinundated by a host of technical and fundamental factors, leadingto “very choppy” trading and heavy volume of 116,428.
Cash prices emerged from the weekend with widespread gainsMonday. Most were of the small-to-medium variety at 2-6 cents, buta scorching West tended to see a lot of double-digit increases. SanJuan Basin and the Southern California moved in near-lockstep,rising about a quarter each. However, a basis relationship gap ofnearly 50 cents between the two points remaineduncharacteristically wide compared to traditional levels,reflecting the inroads made by Canadian and Rockies supplies intothe California market in recent years.
After taking Tuesday’s small gain in stride, the bears were atit again yesterday pushing the August contract to test the bottomof a descending channel that has limited movement in the contractsince July 1. However, support held and light buying ensued pushingthe contract up to close at $2.231, down 3.5 cents for the day.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has approved anexpansion of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania’s customer choice pilotprogram to include 270,000 residential and small-commercialcustomers in south-central and western Pennsylvania, or about 70%of the company’s customers.
Tuesdays are oftentimes a day of small prices changes at the NewYork Mercantile Exchange, and this Tuesday proved to be noexception. The spot August contract settled unchanged at $2.365yesterday, as many traders reportedly remained on the sidelines inanticipation of the next AGA storage report to be released laterthis evening.
Traders love to fill in chart gaps and Monday’s strong open leftnot a wide chasm, but a small and clearly defined gap between $2.04and $2.05. To that end, sellers wasted no time Tuesday in pushingthe July contract lower. And once the gap was filled in thecontract continued to fall, settling at $1.989, down 11.1 cents.
Thursday was an excellent day to pursue a sell-early, buy-latestrategy in the Gulf Coast, according to a marketer. He saw TranscoStation 65, Henry Hub and TGT SL uniformly start around $2 even,then get up to $2.03 before falling back to the mid $1.90s in lateactivity. He thought the early cash strength was based on thescreen rising a few cents, but a lack of fundamental demand failedto support the upticks
The cash market made more small gains Wednesday, but downturnsin late trading at many points led sources to believe this week’sprice rally has ended, at least for the time being. Prices ran up3-4 cents at the outset but then came off hard at the tail end inresponse to the screen, said a Gulf Coast trader. As long asfutures stayed up, though, cash stayed right there with them, headded.