Natural gas pricing Tuesday was widely varied with the overall market showing an average loss of a dime. Once the high-flying New England pipelines such as Algonquin, Tennessee and Iroquois are factored out, however, the market actually showed a gain of 13 cents.
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The seemingly unrelenting growth in natural gas use in Asia-Pacific nations could have global implications for gas pricing that heretofore has varied greatly between the East and the West, two Singapore-based energy attorneys said during an energy conference Tuesday.
Colder forecasts during the Christmas weekend were in effect for many areas, and although near-term predictions varied, most points were flat to about a dime higher. All of the major declines from about a dime to the $2.65 area occurred in the Northeast, where a major weekend storm had begun departing.
Most of the cash market varied little from flat Friday, but modest softness in the West tended to be barely more plentiful than small gains at eastern points. Moderately warmer temperatures were returning in the South, Northeast and Midwest, and cooling trends in the Rockies and desert Southwest were resulting in little cooling load remaining at western trading points.
First quarter earnings for North American energy companies are sounding a varied tempo in the cacophony of record profits and natural gas production. Texaco Inc., Apache Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. jazzed up their bottom line with producing acquisitions. Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., however, relied on an old Texas saying to “dance with the one who brung ya.” Both ways, it appears, are playing equally well.
The Christmas weekend market was a true hodgepodge of pricemovement. Friday’s changes ranged from more than $2 lower in theNorthern Natural Gas market area, despite a pipeline OFO still ineffect after nearly two weeks, to more than $2 higher in both ofTransco’s Zone 6 pools. Other points were arrayed at variouspositions in between, but most were flat to 20 cents down.
Price points throughout the country varied in their responses toweather forecasts, the American Gas Association storage reportexpectations, and a rising futures screen yesterday. Despite thelack of direction, many traders agreed that weather, which wasresponsible for significant increases in the East and Midcontinentearlier in the week, is set to regain its leadership role in themarket, and push prices down heading into the weekend.
Traders’ opinions have varied as to the direction the futuresmarket would take this week, and so it came as no surprise Mondaywhen it tested both the upside and the downside in early trading.But, when selling dried up below the $2.10 level, the Novembercontract was free to migrate higher to settle at $2.143.
Cash price changes for the weekend varied widely, ranging fromrelative flatness in Appalachia and Northeast citygates to drops of10-20 cents at the California border. The big weakness inCalifornia numbers was due to trader fears of weekend OperationalFlow Orders by SoCal Gas and PG&E, whether or not they evermaterialized, sources said. (Neither utility had an OFO in effectas of Saturday.) However, SoCal was cutting all as-availablestorage injections, helping to keep Topock prices depressed, amarketer said.