At the end of a very busy week for CMS Energy, the companyannounced it had struck its first deal for a large power plant tobe fed by gas delivered on Panhandle Eastern Pipeline acquired fourdays earlier from Duke Energy.
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While gas reserves in the lower-48 states declined slightly lastyear (down 519 Bcf, or 0.3%), gas discoveries shot up 27% “from avery good 1996,” to the highest level in the past decade, theEnergy Information Administration said in an advance summary of astudy titled “U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas LiquidsReserves 1997 Annual Report.”
Bulls have had very little if anything positive to talk aboutlately with respect to gas prices at the New York MercantileExchange. Mild June temps, a healthy storage level, and amplesupply have weighed on the market since the current downtrend beganon April 9th. So it comes as no surprise that upon the release ofthe less-than-expected 86 Bcf AGA storage injection, bulls sawtheir first opportunity in a while to push the market higher. Thefirst thrust was registered in Wednesday night’s ACCESS session.Then, after opening higher yesterday, the contract traded in a neat5-cent trading range settling at $1.970, up 4 cents for the day.
Very few points were left trading above $2 as flat to lowernumbers dominated the cash market Wednesday. Citygates in theNortheast and Midwest (just barely) and the Appalachian pipes(again, just barely) constituted most of the $2-plus survivors,although some Louisiana points such as Henry Hub, Sonat and TranscoStation 65 recorded $2.00-even quotes at the high end of theirranges. Although quotes straddled the $2 level, Houston ShipChannel was the rare Gulf Coast point still averaging above $2.
The FERC majority voted yesterday to once again submerge itselfinto the “familiar, yet very rocky waters” of pipeline regulationon the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Specifically, it initiated anotice of inquiry (NOI) into alternatives to the Commission’spresent method of exercising its jurisdiction over offshorepipelines.
Cash prices rose by a nickel to a dime virtually across theboard Monday in what sources saw as “purely a weather play.”Liquidity was a bit tighter than usual as many traders hurried tofinish and head for this week’s trade fair in Houston, one pointedout. Also, a fair amount of gas had already been committed throughthe end of the fair, he said.