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ERCOT spot power prices soar on severe weather, rising natural gas

Highlights

ERCOT North Hub on-peak hits highest since mid-Feb

Natural gas prices rise amid stronger LNG demand, production declines

Houston — ERCOT power day-ahead contracts trended sharply higher April 13 on the Intercontinental Exchange, as below-average temperatures put upward pressure on power demand.

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ERCOT North Hub real-time for April 14 delivery jumped to more than $100/MWh, rising from the previous price of $40/MWh, while the corresponding balance-of-the-day contract traded above $200/MWh, up from about $47.50/MWh.

Over the weekend, the contract also traded higher, reaching $216.50/MWh on April 11. This was the highest price since mid-February, when the region experienced prolonged extreme winter temperatures, which resulted in widespread power outages and all-time record high power and gas prices.

ERCOT Houston Hub on-peak real-time day-ahead rose significantly as well April 13, pricing at $123/MWh, while bal-of-the-day traded in a bid-offer range of $217/MWh-$320/MWh.

The US National Weather Service expected strong to severe storms and damaging winds to continue through the week for parts of Texas and Louisiana. Moreover, the most recent weather service six- to 10-day outlook showed a high probability of below-average temperatures for much of the region, likely placing an additional upward pressure on power and gas prices.

Meanwhile, the peakload demand in ERCOT wasn't expected to react strongly to the weather forecast, and was predicted to decline consistently over the week, according to the grid operator data.

Spot gas rises amid recovering LNG demand

Henry Hub cash gained 9 cents on the day to $2.54/MMBtu while Katy gained 12 cents to change hands at $2.63/MMBtu for flows April 14 amid recovering demand, much of which was driven by increasing export demand from the LNG sector and pipeline flows to Mexico.

Total demand in the two regions fell to as low as 42 Bcf/d the week of April 5 and stayed muted over the weekend as LNG feedgas demand fell sharply, particularly in Texas where LNG demand dropped 1.5 Bcf on the day to 3 Bcf on April 8, according to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Residential and commercial demand stayed range bound averaging about 2.7 Bcf/d over the last seven days in both the region amid mild shoulder season temperatures amid robust supplies.

Haynesville production declines

Haynesville production slumped to 12.4 Bcf/d since April 6 after recording a strong start in April at about 13 Bcf/d, according to data from Platts Analytics. Maintenance activity didn't seem to be the driver of these declines as the drops were spread out over several pipelines across the basin and was likely driven by gas being reshuffled off the interstate pipeline grid in Texas to intrastate pipelines for injections into storage.

The Henry Hub winter strip fell 11 cents over the past 30 days and currently stands at $2.98/MMBtu, as tepid demand was likely to continue to encouraging storage rebuild.