At the NYMEX, the October 2011 contract increased 9.9 cents (2.5 percent) from $3.940 per MMBtu last Wednesday to $4.039 per MMBtu yesterday. The contract surged 15.4 cents over Tuesday and Wednesday in a possible mind set shift to hopes of more Winter-like loads occurring later in the future despite indications of continued robust short-term production and lack of near-term supporting weather loads.
The Henry Hub price echoed the week’s general cash market price increase to recapture the $4 handle by rising 1.2 percent from $3.96 per MMBtu the previous Wednesday to $4.01 per MMBtu yesterday. As the accompanying table shows, the Henry Hub cash price meandered in a narrow 3 to 4 cent range most of the week before advancing 9 cents the last two days. On Monday and Tuesday, the Henry Hub price was less than the NYMEX October futures contract which could have been an incentive to spur purchase of attractively-priced gas for storage and served to close the gap with the NYMEX futures price.
End-market natural gas prices generally followed the lead of their wholesale counterparts and responded in kind to upstream gyrations despite neutral weather prospects. The New York citygate price, which started the week at $4.20 per MMBtu showed a 3 cent price range until starting upward on Monday. The New York citygate price increased by $0.08 per MMBtu over the period (Wednesday to Wednesday) to close at $4.28 per MMBtu (up 1.9 percent). During the same period, the Chicago citygate price rose $0.13 per MMBtu and ended the week at $4.10 per MMBtu (up 3.2 percent).
In a swing to the approach of more benign fall temperatures, consumption registered a modest decline for the week. According to estimates from BENTEK Energy Services, LLC, domestic gas consumption decreased this week by 1.9 percent over last week. The power sector led the decrease with a loss of 4.1 percent, largely reflective of regions in Texas which finally returned to more seasonal temperatures. The residential/commercial sector posted a modest 0.2 percent decrease in consumption while the industrial sector also saw a token 0.1 percent decline.
In the midst of this week’s decreasing consumption yet narrow price environment, overall supply was up significantly. According to BENTEK Energy estimates, the week’s average total nominal gas supply posted a 3.3 percent increase from last week’s level. Domestic weekly dry gas production averaged 62.1 Bcf per day (up 3.3 percent) from the previous week. Domestic dry gas production now stands 7.5 percent above this time last year. The week’s production gain was further augmented by a 4.0 percent increase in Canadian imports averaging 5.2 Bcf per day. However, Canadian imports remain 16.8 percent below year-ago volumes. Any supply gains remained anemic in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) arena during the week where imports came in at 380 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day and remain 52.7 percent below year-ago levels