Most points rebounded strongly Monday as the Gulf Coast supply picture, while improving, remained rather gloomy and pockets of current or approaching cooling and heating load surfaced. A little bit of “storm hype” may also have been a factor, although Tropical Storm Stan was projected to move into southern Mexico without threatening any U.S. energy facilities.
However, a few points in the Gulf Coast and Northeast refused to go along for the bullish ride, being flat to more than half a dollar lower. A majority of the cash market recorded gains ranging from about a nickel to a little more than $1.20.
Following the weekend, air conditioning load had become somewhat scarce outside the intrastate Louisiana and Texas markets. It had even diminished in the desert Southwest, although Phoenix could still expect highs in the low to mid 90s Tuesday. Much of the South is seeing temperatures at seasonal norms; it has cooled off enough in the Florida market area that Florida Gas Transmission ended a lengthy Overage Alert Day notice Sunday.
But a producer who trades the Northeast said the region still had pockets of lingering heat, although highs would struggle to get above the low 80s in the next couple of days. With regional power prices slightly surpassing $100 Monday, he was still finding a fair amount of power generation load.
Residents of the Upper Midwest, Upper Plains and northern sections of the West will soon get a reminder that the calendar has advanced solidly into autumn by now, with winter on the distant horizon. A slow-moving cold front “will divide summer from winter” in the nation’s midsection Tuesday, according to The Weather Channel (TWC). Highs will barely make it to 40 degrees across much of North Dakota, and snow is likely in both of the Dakotas, especially later in the day, TWC said. By Tuesday night a storm is expect to race northeastward out of Colorado, bringing “a wintry chill over the Plains and Upper Midwest,” it added.
Northern Natural Gas provided some indication of how an early touch of winter will be showing up in the Midwest later this week. Saying its normal system weighted temperature is around 55 degrees at this time of year, the pipeline had these projections for weighted temperatures: Monday, a balmy 74 degrees; Tuesday, 64; Wednesday, 44; and Thursday, 42.
The interior West (outside the desert Southwest) also is due to get an early taste of winter weather. Wet snow is forecast for parts of the Rockies, and highs will max out in the 30s Tuesday in Montana and Wyoming, TWC said.
There are “absolutely some liquidity issues” in the Gulf Coast that will continue affecting the market for some time to come, the producer said. He mentioned Henry Hub, Tennessee’s 500 and 800 Legs, Transco Stations 45 and 65 and Texas Eastern-East Louisiana as particularly nettlesome problem trading points where there is a “serious tightness of supply.”
The producer said he couldn’t even venture to make a call on when the market might stabilize. But he noted that with it still significantly removed from “the teeth of heating season,” the industry had better get all of its Gulf production and processing issues resolved pretty soon, or it will be “in a world of hurt.”
Recovery of lost Gulf of Mexico (GOM) production made some headway over the weekend. With 75 companies reporting to it, Minerals Management Service (MMS) said its count of GOM shut-ins was 7,495.25 MMcf/d Monday, down 445.77 MMcf/d from Friday (see related story). MMS said 399 platforms and 24 mobile drilling rigs remained evacuated, and the cumulative deferred gas output since Aug. 26 (before Katrina struck) had reached 219.567 Bcf. Oil volumes were also improving, but the shut-in tally remained huge. Just shy of 93% of normal GOM oil flows of about 1.5 million bbl/d were still offline Monday, the agency said.
Including onshore losses based on analysis of pipeline bulletin board nomination systems, Bentek Energy LLC said its count of the Gulf Coast’s cumulative supply loss is 233.2 Bcf. As of Monday Louisiana was producing 2.6 Bcf/d while Texas flows stood at 3.1 Bcf/d, Bentek said.
Stan weakened to a tropical depression Sunday after crossing Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula but was back to tropical storm strength again Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. The storm was forecast to become a hurricane before making an expected midweek landfall along the southeast coast of Mexico. A hurricane warning was in effect Monday afternoon from Cabo Rojo southward to Punta el Lagarto, NHC said. At 4 p.m. CDT Stan’s center was about 240 miles east-northeast of Veracruz, Mexico and moving to the west-southwest at nearly 7 mph.
Citigroup analyst Kyle Cooper made a final estimation of a 29-39 Bcf build in the storage report for the week ending Sept. 30. “Our confidence remains rather low,” Cooper continued. “This would be a very bullish report on a temperature-adjusted basis. It will also likely establish a new weekly minimum for late September/early October.”
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