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Western Price Survey

July 8, 2016
Natural Gas Prices Move Lower

Western natural gas prices fell the week of July 4, ending five weeks' worth of positive movement.

Warmer weather had bolstered gas prices in recent weeks, but less consumption for power generation and slightly higher production blunted continued gains.

Working natural gas in storage was 3,179 Bcf as of July 1, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. This is a net increase of 39 Bcf compared to the previous week. Storage levels are now 20.4 percent greater than a year ago and 23.2 percent greater than the five-year average.

Henry Hub gas spot values shed 4 cents in Thursday-to-Thursday trading, ending at $2.86/MMBtu July 7.

Western natural gas values dropped between 2 cents and as much as 57 cents. After posting the greatest gains and trading above the $3 mark the previous week, prices at PG&E CityGate tumbled 57 cents to end at $2.69/MMBtu July 7.

Consumption of natural gas for power generation dropped 5 percent week over week, according to the EIA's weekly analysis.

Roughly 2 Bcf of natural gas was withdrawn from stores in the Pacific region during the agency's reporting week.

"Working gas stocks in the Pacific region are only 10 Bcf above the five-year average, after starting the refill season on April 1 with a 60-Bcf surplus," according to the EIA. The region is the only one with less working gas in storage than it had the previous year.

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Natural gas production saw an uptick this week, according to the EIA. The count for rigs in production had the largest weekly increase since December 2015.

Average peak power prices lost between $1.80 and $5.60 in July 1 to July 8 trading. Palo Verde dropped $5.60 to $30.20/MWh. Prices July 8 ranged from $21/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $31.75/MWh at South of Path 15.

Average nighttime power prices moved nominally, with prices varying less than a dollar in trading. Mid-C shed 80 cents to $21/MWh by the end of trading, while Palo Verde added 30 cents to reach $20.75/MWh.

Demand peaked on the CAISO grid at 39,063 MW July 1, which was the high recorded for the July 1 through July 7 period. Demand for the week of July 4 was forecast to reach a 35,383 MW high July 8 [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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