Natural Gas Rises on Colder Weather, Columbia Pipeline Closure

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Natural gas rose after forecasts for colder weather in the Midwest and Northeast, and Columbia Gulf Transmission Co. shut a pipeline in Tennessee.

Below-normal temperatures may push into the Midwest starting Feb. 9 and last through Feb. 11, spreading eastward early next week, according to forecaster MDA Federal Inc.'s EarthSat Energy Weather of Rockville, Maryland.

Natural gas for March delivery rose 5.2 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $7.994 per million British thermal units at 3:08 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It earlier rose to $8.08. Prices have advanced 6.8 percent so far this year and are 4.9 percent higher than a year ago.

Columbia Gulf Transmission suspended supplies to its natural-gas customers after an explosion at a compressor station in Macon County, Tennessee. The station increases pressure along the portion of the pipeline that runs from Louisiana to the West Virginia-Kentucky border.

The 4,200-mile pipeline can carry 2.1 billion cubic feet of gas a day, though less was flowing before the explosion, said Kelly Merritt, a spokesman for the Houston-based company. Customer needs are being met with gas from storage, he said.

Tornadoes have swept through Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois, killing at least 44 people. ''Depending on the extent of the damage and how long it takes to fix, it could be a big deal,'' said Bentek Energy analyst Jack Weixel in Denver. ''People may be getting nervous about having enough gas.''

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