Retail gas marketers got some good and bad news from BaltimoreGas & Electric Co. yesterday. The bad news was transportationcustomers have to start paying the state’s 5% sales tax for thefirst time starting in May so alternative suppliers will have amuch tougher time beating the regulated gas sales price. Thecompliance division of the state Controller’s office informed BGEof the tax change in January.
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It has been argued the emergence of storage facilities in thenatural gas industry has robbed cash prices of some of theirvolatility during summers and winters and replaced it duringshoulder months. Perhaps a similar affect has happened this pastyear because of mother nature. The El Ni¤o winter, which helpedkeep volatility in check this weekend, may very well be behind theextremely high volatility seen at the New York Mercantile Exchangethis past week.
While some local gas utilities will continue struggling toinsulate their small customers from high gas prices and pricevolatility, NIPSCO announced yesterday it will begin offeringselect residential customers and all of its non-residential buyersan option of fixing or capping their commodity prices for up to oneyear starting in May. The program was approved last October as partof NIPSCO’s Alternative Regulatory Plan.
Brokers and speculators (at least some, anyway) may havebreathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday, as volatilityreturned to the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contractfinally broke out of the tight $2.105-205 trading range that hadbeen containing its movements since March 6 by virtue of its 8.4cent rise to $2.239. Sources agreed the activity was led byanticipatory buying ahead of the release of the latest AGA storagereport. “It was more buy based on rumor today, but the rumor wasstrong enough to drive April above major resistance at $2.205,” oneof the sources told NGI.
The overall price trend was up again Tuesday, but the market washardly a model of consistency. Some points, such as the Northernand Southern California borders and PG&E citygates, barelymanaged to maintain flatness or eke out small gains, while otherssuch as Waha and Northeast citygates continued to surge upward byas much as a dime or more. A marketer reporting Transco Zone 6(NYC) topping $2.60 said she hadn’t expected to see those kind ofnumbers again until next fall at the earliest.
ONEOK Resources has signed a definitive agreement with OXY USAto purchase some of its natural gas and oil reserves including morethan 400 wells in Oklahoma and Kansas outside the Hugoton field forapproximately $135 million before adjustments. Net production isapproximately 30 MMcf/d and 400 b/d. The properties havelower-risk development potential for increased reserves. WhileONEOK’s previous reserve acquisitions have been concentrated inOklahoma, this purchase includes significant reserves in Kansaswhere ONEOK recently acquired Kansas Gas Service, an LDC servingtwo-thirds of the state. David Kyle, president and chief operatingofficer of ONEOK, Inc., said the acquisition will almost doubleONEOK’s oil and gas reserve base. The acquisition includes a gassweetening plant located in the Aledo Field in Oklahoma.