Pressured lower by two preceding days of screen weakness that was extended into the July contract’s expiry Tuesday and by declines of cooling demand that had either already occurred or were getting started in several areas, cash quotes fell across the board Tuesday.
If not for a drop of a little less than a dime at Northern Natural-Ventura, double-digit losses would have prevailed at all points. Northern Natural’s demarcation point saw the next-smallest point of about a dime; otherwise Tuesday’s softening ranged from about 15 cents to more than half a dollar.
The smallest dips were clustered in the Midwest and Midcontinent, where hot weather was seeing only slight recession. In fact, Midwest highs were due to hold in the 90-degree area while much of the western Midcontinent would be joining West Texas and the desert Southwest with peak readings in the 100s.
The Rockies/San Juan/Pacific Northwest and Southern California markets, along with a couple of Northeast citygates and Western Canada, tended to see the greatest downturns. Western markets were plagued by excess supply issues and light weather-related load along the coast and in more northerly reaches. Both of the big California distributors, PG&E and SoCalGas, had high-linepack OFOs in place for Wednesday (see Transportation Notes), while Westcoast and Kern River were both reporting high linepack and encouraging drafting of their systems and/or due-shipper imbalance paybacks.
July futures continued a steep slide over the three-day expiration period, falling another 16.2 cents Tuesday to go off the board at $6.976. For a change in recent days, natural gas and crude oil futures agreed on direction, although August crude’s decline of more than $2 to $58.20/bbl seemed rather exaggerated only a day after establishing a new daily settlement record for a prompt month that topped $60.
Prospects are good for further cash price declines Wednesday. Besides the continuing screen softness, a cold front bringing stormy weather into the Midwest and more stormy weather in the eastern states of the South will keep a damper on power generation load for driving air conditioners. And although temperatures may be inching higher again in the Northeast, peaks in the low to mid 80s are not expected to boost gas demand appreciably.
While noting that crude futures were down more than two bucks, a Northeast marketer commented that the “natural gas contract did a whole lot of nothing, considering it was expiring.” Regional weather had cooled down quite a bit since a hot weekend, he said. There should be more heat again in a few days, but “nothing significant to the gas market before next week, according to the models I’ve seen,” he added. Calling it “one of the quietest bidweeks” in recent memory, the marketer said he had nothing to report Tuesday because his company had already finished July trading.
Florida Gas Transmission’s Overage Alert Day notice, which went into a second day Tuesday, was nothing more than a minor annoyance to Florida utility buyers, said one of that group, observing that a 20% imbalance tolerance was quite lenient. She didn’t pick up any baseload for July, preferring to take her chances on buying supplies in the daily market.
A Texas-based marketer reported these bidweek fixed-price deals done Tuesday: Waha, $6.53-63 (in four deals, with three done near the lower end); Panhandle Eastern and ANR Southwest, both $6.42-45; and Transwestern-San Juan in the low $5.90s. July pricing was down from Monday, she said, as a function of Monday’s screen weakness being extended Tuesday. The California OFOs were the main feature of the western daily spot market, she said.
The National Weather Service predicts above normal temperatures during the July 4-8 period in a wide swath of the U.S. that includes all of the Midwest and Northeast and nearly all of the Midcontinent, Great Plains and Rockies, along with upper segments of the South. It also looks for above normal readings in a strip along the California coast from the San Francisico Bay area to San Diego. Below normal conditions are expected in Washington, Oregon and northern Idaho, and also in South Texas and the southeastern corner of the nation south of a line from the border of the Carolinas through southeastern Louisiana.
First Enercast Financial said it looks for a 75 Bcf storage injection to be reported for the week ending June 24.
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