For the second trading session in a row, natural gas futureswere hit with a wave of selling pressure Monday, as bears basked inthe glow of forecasts calling for continued above-normaltemperatures across much of the country. After showing earlypromise last week in trading up to $2.485, the January contract hassince slipped to new life-of-contract lows, closing at $2.224yesterday. Activity was with 69,325 contracts changing hands.
Articles from weather
Between a plunging screen and mild-to-cool weather almosteverywhere outside the southern U.S., it hardly came as a shock totraders that Tuesday’s swing deals done for today only would failto measure up to September index levels. However, some consideredthe ability of crude oil futures to stay above $22/bbl and eventack on an extra dime a mitigating factor in keeping the initialaftermarket softness fairly mild.
The cash market switched gears Tuesday, as gains of 3 to 11cents at most points reversed a two-day trend of general weakness.A strengthening futures screen replaced the slackening powergeneration demand as the main market driver, one trader said, andthe result was increasing gas prices despite moderatingtemperatures throughout the nation.
Those bemoaning a relative lack of volatility in much of thecash market since early spring must have enjoyed Tuesday. Thingswere very strong-“to put it mildly,” as a marketer said-in tradingTuesday for both the month of July and the last day of June. It wasobvious to everyone what was heating up prices: heat now andforecasts of more heat later. A strong showing by the August HenryHub futures contract lent further support to cash.
Northwest began running a 96-hour test on the Snohomish (WA)Compressor Station’s Unit No. 1 Friday. The test, along with warmerweather and reduced weekend damand, did not allow Northwest toreceive the full 1,097,000 dekatherms of total supply at theSumas/Sipi throughput point. The pipeline capped Sumas/Sipi volumesat 1,000,000 dekatherms Sunday and raised that to 1,050,000dekatherms for Monday’s gas day. No constraint is scheduled todayas the work was expected to end Monday evening.
With weather forecasts producing bearish news at every turn andnational storage reserves looming ever larger, Raymond James &Associates recently published a report projecting spot wellhead gasprices will drop below the $1.50/Mcf level before the beginning ofsummer. The study, however, also warns of a gas “price shock” inearly 2000, when gas shortages run rampant and production is unableto keep up because of sharp declines in exploration and productionspending. It seems the industry is in store for a spot marketroller coaster ride.
Three weeks of severe weather in the Gulf of Mexico have leftproducers with their heads spinning and have sent Gulf productionon a roller coaster ride, but producers should find some solace inthe large number of pipeline companies scrambling to serve theirgrowing transportation needs with new projects. In total, the newpipeline expansions announced last week could add more than 1 Bcf/dof additional pipeline access to markets for deep-water supplies.
As of Friday Sea Robin expected to restore flow Saturday (Feb.21) on its 16-inch West Cameron 580 lateral, pending favorableweather conditions. The force majeure implemented Jan. 27 whenrepairs on a leak began (see Daily GPI, Jan. 29) was to be releasedwhen the lateral was declared in service, Sea Robin said.
Cash prices for the weekend were down almost across the boardFriday, succumbing to mild weather and lower weekend demand.However, noting the late rebound in the Henry Hub futures contract,a marketer thinks that set the stage for a modest rally in cashnumbers today. He looks for Midcontinent pipes to move back up intothe low $2.10s.