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Western Price Survey

January 27, 2017
SoCal Gas Withdrawal Contributes to Substantial Natural Gas Draw

Colder weather increased heating demand across the western United States, which prompted Southern California Gas to dip into stored reserves at its Aliso Canyon facility.

Working natural gas in storage was 2,798 Bcf as of Jan. 20, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net decrease of 119 Bcf compared to the previous week.

This recent withdrawal amount puts withdrawals to date ahead of the average pace when compared to previous years, notes the EIA. The decline between Nov. 8 and Jan. 20, it says, is the second largest for the comparable period since 2010. The five-year average withdrawal for this period is 1,058 Bcf.

Storage levels are now 11.1 percent less than a year ago and 0.7 percent less than the five-year average.

SoCal Gas contributed to the withdrawal tally. A total of roughly 2 Bcf was removed from the system between Jan. 24 and 25, according to the EIA. Some of this was taken from the Aliso Canyon facility. The withdrawals were made using state-mandated protocols and were necessitated by weather-based demand (see story at [9]).

Total domestic natural gas demand, however, declined 8 percent during the EIA report week. Natural gas used for power generation was down 2 percent week over week.

Henry Hub gas spot values added 20 cents between Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, ending at $3.42/MMBtu.

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Western natural gas followed suit, adding between 13 cents and as much as 31 cents in trading. Opal natural gas posted the greatest gains, adding 31 cents to reach $3.38/MMBtu.

Western peak power prices varied, with Pacific Northwest prices ostensibly flat in the Jan. 20 to Jan. 27 trading period. Palo Verde, however, dropped $2.50, ending at $25.15/MWh. Prices ranged from $25.15/MWh at Palo Verde to $34.40/MWh at South of Path 15.

Average nighttime power prices also varied. Mid-Columbia off-peak power added a quarter, ending at $26/MWh, while other Western hubs lost less than a dollar in trading.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 31,298 MW Jan. 23, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 62,885 MW Jan. 24.

The statewide snowpack was 30 inches of snow-water equivalent as of Jan. 27, which is 186 percent of normal, according to the California Department of Water Resources [Linda Dailey Paulson].

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from Energy NewsData's comprehensive regional news services. See for yourself how NewsData reporters put events in an accurate and meaningful context -- request a sample of either or both California Energy Markets and Clearing Up.

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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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