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Winter storm outages weaken gas-demand response in Carolinas

Highlights

Outages cut power-burn response by 1.5 Bcf/d or more

Transco Zone 5 gas prices fall 14-15 cents/MMBtu Monday

  • Author
  • J. Robinson
  • Editor
  • Jennifer Pedrick
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Natural Gas

Denver — Widespread power outages from a winter storm that pummeled the Carolinas on Saturday and Sunday weakened the gas-demand response from power generators, but otherwise had minimal market impact.

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Duke Energy said Monday that power had already been restored to 500,000 customers across North and South Carolina. Heavy snow and ice, which downed power lines over the weekend, continued to leave another 156,000 customers across the two states without service as of Monday. In North Carolina, where the storm had its largest impact, gas delivered to local distribution companies (LDCs) was up sharply over the weekend. The uptick in demand from power plants was notably muted, though, underperforming levels seen during a similar cold front which swept across the state over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.

On Monday, temperatures across the Carolinas warmed only into the upper 30s to low 40s Fahrenheit. High temperatures are forecast to remain in that range through Thursday, according to data from the National Weather Service and S&P Global Platts Analytics.

At Transco Zone 5 in North Carolina, gas prices were down Monday about 14-15 cents/MMBtu as the storm's demand impact continued to wane. All three Transco zone 5 hubs were poised to settle near $5.20/MMBtu on Monday, according to preliminary settlement data from S&P Global Platts.

OUTAGE IMPACT

Beginning Saturday, sample gas demand from LDCs and power generators in North Carolina edged up in response to the colder weather. Power plant demand, though, was notably weaker than might be anticipated, averaging about 12.8 Bcf/d over the past three days, Platts Analytics data showed.

In late November, a cold front that dropped temperatures in North Carolina to similar levels, pushed power burn demand to an average 14.6 Bcf/d over the three-day period.

The weaker demand response suggests power outages across the state were likely responsible for lost burn demand in total at least 1.5 Bcf/d and possibly more, Platts Analytics data shows.

In the residential-commercial sector, gas demand has averaged 15.7 Bcf/d since Saturday, up about 5 Bcf/d from the prior seven-day average.

With temperatures expected to remain in the mid-30s to low 40s through Thursday, demand levels in North Carolina and beyond are expected to remain elevated over the next several days.

-- J. Robinson, jrobinson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jennifer Pedrick, newsdesk@spglobal.com