NEW YORK, July 26 (Reuters) - Natural gas prices in New York slid to their lowest levels in six months on Friday as an unseasonable summer cold front blanketed much of the Northeast this week, curbing the need for air conditioning demand.
Gas pipeline companies, which last week warned shippers to stay within scheduled supplies in order to maintain system integrity amid a heat wave, did the same late this week due to a lack of demand from the milder weather.
Temperatures last week topped out in the high 90s Fahrenheit (high 30s Celsius) in New York City, with humidity levels making it feel like well over 100 degrees F, pushing power demand in the city to a record high and gas prices to their highest level since a late-winter cold spell in April.
But with temperatures barely reaching the 80s F this week, traders said weekend prices on the Transco gas pipeline at the New York citygate slid 18 cents on Friday to average to $3.48 per million British thermal units, their lowest price since late January, according to Reuters data.
New York prices hit their lowest level of the year in early January at $3.25.
New York prices had typically been the most expensive in the nation, but new pipeline capacity and production from the nearby Marcellus Shale has helped to limit prices and curb much of the price volatility in the gas consuming city.
Williams Cos Inc unit Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co LLC (Transco) on Friday told shippers that it had limited flexibility to manage system imbalances, strongly recommending they balance their pipeline supply and demand requirements to maintain system integrity.
The company said absent voluntary imbalance management by shippers, it could be required to take further action, including the issuance of an imbalance operational flow order, or OFO.
OFOs, or alerts, typically require shippers to balance daily supply and demand within a specified tolerance band.
The Transco system carries gas from the Gulf Coast to markets throughout the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including New York City.