One day after traders saw unseasonable triple-digit temperatures combine with infrastructure constraints to drive SoCal Citygate to a record-high $12.57/MMBtu, cash prices in Southern California eased Tuesday, but ongoing supply constraints threaten more volatility for the region.
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Physical natural gas traded for Tuesday delivery survived a tug-of-war between firmer quotes at California, Rockies and Eastern points and softer prices from Texas, Louisiana, the Midcontinent, and Midwest market zones with the nod going to Texas and Louisiana, et al. The NGI National Spot Gas Average eased a penny to $3.09.
Although physical traders typically try to get their deals done before the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) natural gas storage report, those traders must have had a sixth sense of the bullish news as physical prices scored robust double-digit gains.
Physical natural gas was a mixed affair in Monday trading for Tuesday delivery as multi-dollar gains at eastern points, along with firm Gulf quotes, were able to offset broad weakness in the Midwest, Midcontinent, Rockies and California. When the smoke cleared, theNGI National Spot Gas Average had risen 3 cents to $3.69.
Physical natural gas for Thursday delivery posted strong gains in Wednesday’s trading, boosted by early initial strength in screen prices, flow limitations at eastern population centers and healthy gains in power pricing.
Physical natural gas for weekend and Monday delivery took a solid jump Friday as it attempted to catch up with Thursday’s futures move of more than 20 cents. Gains in the Rockies, Northeast and Gulf were able to easily offset soft California pricing and a weak Southeast.
Looking at national average natural gas cash prices for next-day gas deliveries might make one think summer doldrums have set in, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sharp weather-driven surges in West Coast power prices, and a Flex Alert called by the electric grid operator, had California prices posting stout double digit gains. On the East Coast, major market centers showed double-digit losses, but the NGI National Spot Gas Average rose a lackluster 3 cents to $2.61.
Traders of natural gas for weekend and Monday delivery weren’t taking any chances on getting caught behind the weather curve Friday and sent prices sharply higher at California and eastern points.
If you weren’t looking at California, you might think that weekly natural gas trading for the week ended July 22 was in the summer doldrums. Most points moved within a nickel of unchanged, and theNGI Weekly National Spot Gas Average sported a change of all of a 3-cent advance to $2.57.
July natural gas is set to open a penny lower Thursday morning at $2.67 as traders await not only a government inventory report but also the release of revisions by a California utility. Overnight oil markets rose.