In a surprise move last Monday, FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, who was nominated for a third term at the agency in March, announced that she has decided to decline the nomination (see NGI, March 23).
Articles from Surprise
To no one’s surprise, prices kept falling at most points Monday as weather-based demand remained weak and the previous Friday’s 17.3-cent drop by October futures in their prompt-month debut continued to put negative pressure on the cash market. However, the restoration of industrial load from its usual weekend decline, along with heat in some areas, allowed quite a few scattered points to be flat to nearly C25 cents higher.
Still reeling from Thursday’s report of a surprise 3 Bcf injection into natural gas storage for the week ended March 20, the expiring April gas futures contract plunged lower Friday as market participants were forced to decide whether they wanted to “make or take” delivery.
A surprise 16 Bcf natural gas storage injection from the Producing region for the week ended Feb. 13 was putting significant downward pressure Thursday morning on psychological futures support at the $4 level. Shrugging off an almost $5/bbl gain in crude futures, March natural gas futures ended up closing out the day’s regular session at $4.078, down 13.6 cents from Wednesday’s close.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, cash prices fell at all points but one Thursday. Nearly all were 30 cents or more, with a few Rockies points seeing dollar-plus plunges. The reasons were obvious: receding cooling load in some regions, prior-day screen weakness and the extra loss of industrial load that accompanies a long holiday weekend.
After beginning Monday’s trading by probing lower price levels down at $7.600, the March natural gas futures contract staged a surprise rally around noon EST, peaking at $7.990 before settling the day’s regular session at $7.869, up 12.9 cents from Friday’s close.
Traders who still happened to be in the office received a little surprise on Friday as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that 165 Bcf was withdrawn from underground natural gas storage for the week ended Dec. 21. The larger-than-expected pull helped push February natural gas to a high of $7.410 before the contract closed at $7.386, up 18.6 cents from Thursday’s close and 9.4 cents higher than the previous week’s close.
Northeast traders woke up to a Monday morning surprise as bitter cold sent cash prices to a high of $20 at Transco Zone 6 New York and an average well over $12, which was up more than $4 from weekend price levels. New England Citygates on Algonquin jumped to highs of $18 and averaged over $14, up more than $6/MMBtu from Friday. Outside the Northeast, however, price volatility was subdued and price changes were mixed.