As temperatures plunge anew into single digits across much of the U.S. Northeast, natural gas prices have been going in the opposite direction, according to an article by Bloomberg.
The price to deliver natural gas into New York City spiked last week to a record $120 per million British Thermal Units. “That’s about 30 times more expensive than what the equivalent amount of gas cost a hundred miles away in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, the biggest natural gas field in the U.S.,” Bloomberg wrote, “And you thought this was the age of cheap energy.”
The highest prices are occurring on the so-called “spot market,” which is there for buyers who need to buy or sell natural gas immediately. “When a natural gas-fired power plant or a big utility finds itself short, having underestimated the amount of demand it has to fill, its traders and schedulers have to jump into the spot market and pay whatever the going price is,” Bloomberg explained. “For those buying in parts of the Northeast, it’s been reaching new highs.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” John Scarlata, vice president of gas supply at PSEG Power, told Bloomberg. PSEG Power started running low on the feedstock it needs to run the handful of natural gas-fired power plants it operates in New Jersey, according to the article. “For those units, we have been buying some of the higher-cost gas,” Scarlata said. “The prices are just unbelievable.”
That means that on the other side of the trade, lots of money is being made, according to Bloomberg. “Traders with gas to sell are making a killing, and the utilities they’re selling to are getting destroyed,” says Adam Hoffman, a natural gas trader and the managing member of the Mada Group, an energy trading firm in Houston.
Buyers in the Northeast are at a disadvantage due to a “crucial pipeline bottleneck,” according to Bloomberg. “There simply are not enough pipelines connecting supply to demand,” the article states.
To read the Bloomberg article, click here.