Western natural gas prices generally rebounded between May 11 and May 18, despite conditions that had pulled values in opposite directions the week prior.
The region is still experiencing pipeline constraints, nuclear generation outages and wildfires, but it got a boost from a shift to air conditioning in California.
Residential and commercial natural gas use in California decreased 0.5 Bcf per day, or 27 percent, which was offset by a 57-percent increase in the use of gas for power generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "Temperatures across the state increased, leading to lower demand for heating and a switch to demand for air conditioning," the agency said.
Western natural gas hubs gained value over the trading period, led by Sumas, which jumped 76 cents to $1.68/MMBtu by May 18.
PG&E CityGate gas was the exception. The hub dropped 39 cents but continued to post the highest regional natural gas price: $3.68/MMBtu. Pipeline constraints continue to throttle the flow of natural gas in northern California.
National working natural gas in storage was 2,240 Bcf as of May 12, according to the EIA. This is a net increase of 99 Bcf compared with the previous week. The Pacific region added 13 Bcf to storage, bringing working gas in storage to 127 Bcf. This is 31.7 percent less than a year ago.
Demand on the California Independent System Operator grid was 30,715 MW on May 16, which should be the week's high. This is 4,375 MW more than May 11, when demand peaked at 26,340 MW.
Western daytime values generally trended higher. Hubs gained between $6.25 and $13.50, led by South of Path 15 daytime power, which added $13.50 to reach $22.75/MWh. Mid-Columbia peak power proved to be the exception, down $5.90 to $31.25/MWh, which was the highest regional power price.
Pacific Northwest nighttime values dropped roughly $11 in trading. Mid-C off-peak power remained below $5 for most of the trading period, posting a $1.85/MWh low May 12. North and South of Path 15 off-peak power each rose by $11.90 to end at $24.80/MWh.
Between May 11 and May 18, both nuclear and fossil/biomass generation in the Bonneville Power Administration area were essentially flat. Energy Northwest's Columbia Generating Station remains off line for a refueling outage.
BPA hydro generation peaked at 13,907 MW—an increase of almost 1,675 MW week over week. BPA generation from fossil/biomass sources reached a high of 172 MW, staying in a narrow range of between roughly 125 MW and 172 MW across trading.
Palo Verde Unit 2 returned to full operation as of May 17, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission status report.