Western Price Survey / Archives
January 30, 2004
Painfully cold weather in Western Canada pushed demand and prices up in that region this week. The Alberta Electric System Operator reported pool prices as high as 707.25 mills/KWh on Wednesday, with loads up in the 8,400 MW vicinity. Even low-demand power attracted three-digit prices this week, topping out at 145.43 mills/KWh at mid- week.
In the Northwest United States, trading at Mid-Columbia stuck to the mid-forties range in the early part of the week. Opening on Monday at between 43.50 mills and 46 mills/KWh, the price for packages of peak- delivery power barely moved during the next two days; On Thursday, power bought and sold for Friday delivery at the hub had lost about 3 mills in value. Off-peak power kept to between 36 mills and 39.50 mills/KWh for delivery this week. Off-peak power bought and sold for delivery next Monday jumped to a high of 43 mills/KWh.
Prices in the southern regions showed a bit more strength. At SP15, peak-load power was changing hands for between 50.50 mills and 53.50 mills/KWh on Monday; the pot was sweetened with an additional 3 mills in late-week trading. Palo Verde power came in a little lower. High- demand power at Palo Verde drew a high of 51.50 mills/KWh in mid-week trading, tapering down to between 46 mills and 47 mills/KWh for Friday deliveries. Off-peak power ran an average of 10 mills/KWh lower than the price for peak-power at the hub throughout the week before moving for 43.25 mills/KWh on Friday.
As reported earlier in the week, Columbia Generating Station and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station each began the week curtailed. Columbia spent the first half of the week at about 60 percent output and SONGS No. 3 has been off line since Saturday, January 24. By Thursday morning, Columbia was back at full output. No word was heard about the return of the SONGS unit.
The 750 MW Four Corners Unit No. 4, which has had its output curtailed by about 400 MW for the better part of last week, remained on planned- curtailment status throughout the week. Planned outages carried over from last week also include the 726 MW Ormond No. 1 and 775 MW Ormond No. 2 units. South of the border, in Baja, Mexico, the 309 MW La Rosita II went on an unscheduled outage beginning Thursday morning [Shauna O'Donnell].
Rally Hopes Tempered by Storage Numbers
After all the hue and cry late last summer and early fall about the dearth of natural gas in the nation's underground storage facilities, it looks now like amply supplies are in the ground to see us through the remainder of this winter. At least that is what the numbers out of the Energy Information Administration appear to indicate.
According to this week's EIA report, as of last Friday there were 2,063 Bcf of gas in storage, a decline of 195 Bcf from the prior week. Nevertheless, the numbers are well above last year; stocks at this time last year were 1,729 Bcf. This week's storage numbers also remain on the credit side of the ledger when compared to the five-year average of 1,900 Bcf.
"Gas is hanging in there," said remarked one trader, referring to the continued run of prices above the $5.00/MMBtu mark. Had the EIA reported a larger draw from storage, indices likely would have recorded a bump up in prices across the board, but instead, the status quo held during end-of-week trading.
San Juan Basin gas opened the week at between $5.10 and $5.23/MMBtu, skipped up to $5.50/MMBtu in mid-week trading, then sank back down to around $5.20/MMBtu for Friday deliveries. Permian followed suit-- starting the week between $5.10 and $5.34/MMBtu, gaining about two bits in value midweek, before quickly dropping back down to $5.19/MMBtu in Thursday trading.
PG&E CityGate deliveries managed to avoid any real swings in prices much of the week, sticking close to $5.60/MMBtu during the course of the week. Malin gas values were jostled around a bit more. After opening on Monday at between $5.35 and $5.42/MMBtu, the price of gas at that hub reached $5.71/MMBtu on Wednesday--only to sink to $5.25/MMBtu the following day [S O'D.].
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