One Western Canada point managed to be the exception to overall double-digit price declines continuing Friday. Forecasts of unseasonably moderate late-November temperatures in many areas again were the primary drag on spot quotes, abetted by the usual drop of industrial load during a weekend. As a producer had predicted, Thursday’s rally of 8.8 cents by December futures was unable to induce a similar response in the cash market.
The eastbound Alberta export point of Empress was up about C5 cents. Otherwise losses in the rest of the market ranged from about 15 cents to a little more than 65 cents. Although a modest majority of locations still averaged above $3, quite a few had fallen below that level for the weekend.
December futures began their three-day settlement period with an uptick of 8.2 cents (see related story), but it was considered doubtful whether that would have any positive impact on the cash market Monday.
Although SoCalGas did not announce a high-linepack OFO until early afternoon, traders at the SoCal citygate must have anticipated such an eventuality in propelling the point to one of Friday’s biggest losses.
The South was expected to be fairly cool during the weekend, but with only a minor amount of resultant heating load. Slightly colder conditions were due in the Midwest and Northeast, but without lows approaching freezing.
The Rockies and Alberta were the only areas where significant cold was predicted, with lows in the 20s expected Saturday.
The Northern Natural Gas bulletin board indicated how unseasonable temperatures are in the western Midwest. A Friday posting said that while the normal system-weighted temperature at this time of year is 32 degrees, it projected averages ranging from 41 to 46 from Friday through Monday.
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey/the Gerdes Group analysts said they “preliminarily anticipate” a storage injection in the vicinity of 10 Bcf for the past week, which they noted would be quite bearish in comparison to the year-ago 66 Bcf withdrawal. Heating degree days that week in 2008 were 20% above the five-year average, they said.
A Texas-based marketer said he thought the early-week price strength may have been due to buyers seeing bargains in low-priced gas. Although the cash market saw resounding losses Friday, he attributed the continuing futures upturn to forecasts for early this week turning a little cooler than expected. He noted one forecast indicating that snow showers are possible in the Chicago area by Thanksgiving.
The marketer said he hadn’t done any December baseload business himself as of Friday afternoon, but reported that the Chicago citygate was trading at index plus 3-3.5 cents on IntercontinentalExchange. He expects practically all bidweek deals to be finished by the end of Tuesday; after all, nobody wants to come in on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and do anything but take care of spot gas flows for an extra-long holiday weekend before they get the heck out of Dodge, he said.
The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count of drilling rigs actively searching for gas in the U.S. fell by another two to 726 in the week ending Nov. 20. The Gulf of Mexico saw no change, Baker Hughes said, while two onshore rigs were deactivated. Its latest tally was flat from a month earlier but down 52% from the year-ago level.
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