Air conditioners are humming virtually everywhere, and that translated into continuing bullishness for almost the entire cash gas market Wednesday. Except for a small decline at Malin and flat to barely higher numbers at a few Northeast citygates, other points saw gains that tended to range from a nickel to a little more than 15 cents.
Transco Zone 6-New York City quotes extended their premium over non-NYC Zone 6 and Texas Eastern M-3 pricing to nearly half a dollar while peeking over into $4-plus territory in a few deals. “These are the kind of days when NYC numbers pull away from everything else and become unchallenged ‘kings of the price hill;’ of course, I’m not sure if that’s anything to be proud of,” said one regional trader. However, a cold front from Canada is expected to move into northern New England and upstate New York Thursday, dampening citygate upticks on pipes serving those areas. The front should be reaching the Big Apple area Friday and “cooling things off quite a bit, so I’m expecting a big price drop [Thursday], especially in Zone 6-NYC,” the trader said.
A Midwest marketer wasn’t sure about his region’s temperature prospects, saying he was hearing conflicting forecasts. “One says the Midwest will cool off as early as Thursday night, but the other says it will stay hot through the weekend. I’m inclined to go with the prediction of earlier cooling.” Meanwhile, though, there was enough power generation demand in Chicago that he was taking some gas out of storage to sell.
The fuel buyer for an electric utility in the South had no gas purchases to report for Thursday despite plenty of generation demand. “We were a little full on storage and wanted to trim that back a tad,” she explained, adding that the utility almost certainly will be in the market for swing gas Thursday. But she didn’t think the current heat wave throughout most of the U.S. and much of Canada was severe enough to justify the price increases of the last couple of days. “Prices don’t really seem to follow the physical need any more,” relying more on technical factors than fundamentals these days, the buyer lamented.
“It’s cooled off a little, but still awfully hot,” said a Rockies trader reporting Kern River-Opal deals on either side of $1.60. “We’re just roasting more slowly now.”
Noting the strong prices in the Rockies over the last few days, another source said there are some odd factors in play. “Prices were depressed for a long time and lately we are seeing fewer receipts because there are producers shutting in. But running parallel to that is that temperatures have been so hot that wells are aren’t putting out the way they are designed to, and the compressors don’t work as well as in the heat, further cutting into available supply.”
A marketer quoted Malin averaging in the high $2.40s but said the point fell to the low $2.30s in late acitivity. She said that in recent days the PG&E utility had been able to lend gas to shippers against next month, “but they had to stop for Thursday flows because linepack was getting low. I think that’s why the citygate remained so strong compared to Malin.”
Asked if he expected a bearish or bullish storage report from EIA Thursday morning, a Midcontinent marketer replied, “I don’t even guess at the reports any more because of all the revisions. I wouldn’t say the report has become almost a non-event, but do know that traders have a lot less faith in the numbers now than when EIA took over” from AGA. However, the marketer did note that many people had thought there was more gas in storage than AGA had been estimating, so EIA’s upward revisions actually support that belief.
Another trader was a bit more charitable toward the federal agency, seeing the revisions as “a positive sign. It means they are showing us they don’t have it all worked out, so they aren’t drying to deceive us. I am sure the EIA wants to do a better job.”
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