As temperatures dropped well below freezing in the Northeast U.S. around Christmas, Bloomberg reported that in New England, natural gas spot prices rose more than threefold to the highest in over three years and “turned the region into the world’s priciest market,” with gas for next-day delivery on Enbridge’s Algonquin system settling at $35.35 per million British thermal units.
A few days later, the spot prices in New England had fallen back to $19.75, as reported by MassLive.
When one considers that the NYMEX price for natural gas on that day was sitting at a few cents above $3/mmbtu, that’s some pretty pricey gas that New Englanders were paying for. Back in the “old days,” i.e., before the advent of the production of natural gas from shale formations, a winter event like this, combined with a storage level that is well within the 5-year range, would have sent that NYMEX price up dramatically, where it would have lingered until things warmed up. But in today’s world, that price represented a rise of barely 10%.
So what, you might ask, is going on in New England? As MassLive reported, the biggest reason for what will be a short-term blowout in natural gas prices for power providers is a lack of pipeline capacity.