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Western Price Survey

October 26, 2018
Western Natural Gas Prices, Flow Patterns Still Vary

Northwest energy prices continue fluctuating as distribution patterns adjust to compensate for diminished Canadian natural gas imports into the Western United States.

Repairs have yet to begin on a 36-inch gas transmission pipeline near Prince George, British Columbia, that ruptured Oct. 9. Pipeline owner and operator Enbridge Inc. is assessing whether its TSouth system will be able to operate at normal pressure when the line is returned to service. Enbridge expects the system’s capacity will be between 0.9 and 1.3 Bcf/day through winter.

Sumas natural gas values gained 68 cents in Oct. 18 to Oct. 25 trading, ending at $7.55/MMBtu. The hub had reached a high of $7.78/MMBtu Oct. 22.

In addition to noting higher natural gas prices throughout the region, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said imports at the hub have shrunk roughly 51 percent since the rupture, from an average of 930 MMcf/d.

Shifts in natural gas flow across the Pacific Northwest have compensated, according to the EIA. Flows on the Northwest Pipeline are now earmarked for delivery into the Seattle-Tacoma market instead of storage. Also, the Ruby pipeline sent 1.25 Bcf/d of natural gas to the California-Oregon border at Malin Oct. 23, the highest flow rate reported on Ruby since November 2015, the EIA said.

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Natural gas delivery to northwest Washington power plants has also diminished from the 400 MMcf/d on average seen prior to the event to a 100 MMcf/d average between Oct. 10 and Oct. 15. Deliveries recently increased to 200 MMcf/d.

Most Western gas prices rose between a cent and 71 cents in trading. El Paso-San Juan Basin posted the greatest increase, up 71 cents to $3.33/MMBtu. El Paso-Permian Basin dropped 58 cents to $1.99/MMBtu.

Meanwhile, Western daytime power added between $3.55 and as much as $6.75 in Oct. 18 to Oct. 25 trading. Palo Verde peak power gained the most, adding $6.75 to reach $39.75/MWh. By Oct. 25, peak prices ranged from $39.75/MWh at Palo Verde to $54.20/MWh at North of Path 15.

Off-peak prices fell, with Northwest hubs losing the most value. California-Oregon Border dropped $6 to $34.25/MWh. Nighttime values in the region ranged from $30.25/MWh at Palo Verde to $38.55/MWh at NP15.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 30,075 MW Oct. 25; however, the week’s high use was forecast to occur Oct. 26, when demand was expected to reach 30,200 MW. In the week ahead, demand should soften; the forecast high is 29,733 MW on Oct. 29.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 11,981 MW Oct. 19, supplying roughly 40 percent of demand. Solar generation reached 9,330 MW that same day, fulfilling roughly 31 percent of demand. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

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

The Western Price Survey is excerpted from 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 Mavis Scanlon, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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