Western Price Survey
April 20, 2018
The natural gas withdrawal season may have ended March 31, but net withdrawals from gas storage appear to be continuing apace this month.
This is the second week in a row—and fifth time since 2010—that net withdrawals from natural gas storage on a national level were reported during April, according to an April 19 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Working natural gas in storage was 1,335 Bcf as of April 13, according to EIA estimates. This is a net decrease of 36 Bcf compared to the previous week, which the agency attributed to generally colder-than-normal temperatures across the country.
National natural gas use dropped 9 percent compared to the previous week, according to EIA analysts, although natural gas use for power generation rose 2 percent.
Warmer temperatures in the West and South served to offset increased heating demand in the Midwest and Northeast, according to the report.
Storage levels are now 38.3 percent less than a year ago and 25.7 percent less than the five-year average.
A net addition of 4 Bcf to natural gas storage was reported in the Pacific region for the week ending April 18, according to the EIA.
Henry Hub natural gas spot prices added 6 cents in April 12 to 19 trading, ending at $2.77/MMBtu.
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Western natural gas prices generally dropped between 3 and 96 cents during the trading period, with prices at the Southern California CityGate hub losing the most to close at $2.86/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian gas gained 97 cents to end at $2.59/MMBtu.
Meanwhile, Mid-Columbia peak power posted the greatest gains among Western hubs, adding $7.90 to reach $22.85/MWh. Palo Verde peak power lost the most value, down $3.30 to $19/MWh.
For off-peak power, California-Oregon Border added the most in trading, up $5.75 to $21/MWh. Palo Verde off-peak prices lost $1.75 to reach $18.25/MWh.
Demand on the California Independent System Operator grid peaked at 27,597 MW April 18, which should be the week’s high. Renewables on the CAISO grid reached 13,585 MW April 19, supplying roughly 49 percent of demand.
The California snow-water equivalent increased 0.2 inches by April 19, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The state’s overall snowpack is now 11.1 inches, or 44 percent of the average for that date. The increases were measured in the northern and central Sierra Nevada ranges.
Above-normal temperatures are expected across the West in the week ahead, according to the National Weather Service. Some areas may experience daytime highs 10 to 15 degrees above normal, with daytime record highs possible in some isolated areas. –Linda Dailey Paulson.
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