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Warmth Boosts Western Prices While East Levels Off

Warmth Boosts Western Prices While East Levels Off

Prices failed to move much more than a penny or two up or down Monday at most eastern points, but power generation load was strong enough to support moderate upticks in the West. Trading activity was slow for both June swing and July gas, said a marketer who saw Gulf Coast pipes come off 3-4 cents from their early-morning highs. Cash was essentially waiting for something to happen, he added, "because neither it [cash market] nor the screen is going anywhere these days."

Mild weather prevailing along much of the East Coast has left relatively little electric utility demand in the region, one trader said, leading him to expect mild softness today there and in the Gulf Coast. However, a marketer is looking for some strength in the Midcontinent, citing a cold front moving into the Midwest. He reported a moderate pick-up in end-user buying in late trading Monday.

Despite Pacific Gas & Electric's having just ended a weekend high-linepack OFO and still expecting an above-target linepack figure for today, demand was strong at the PG&E citygate, where prices recorded Monday's biggest increase of over a dime. Warm weather in non-coastal areas of California, combined with thermometer readings exceeding 100 degrees in some areas of the Southwest, supported prices in California, the Rockies and San Juan Basin, traders said. Peak power prices rose into the low $40s/MWh at both the Palo Verde switchyard and California-Oregon border as the heat coincided with lessened hydroelectric generation, they added.

Western price discovery and liquidity were noticeably hampered by many area traders being out of the office at New Mexico's natural gas trade fair in Santa Fe, a couple of sources said. Similarly, a Midcontinent marketer said liquidity in that market was less than usual due to a gathering of the Omaha (NE) Gas Gathering Association.

A Calgary source doing same-day intra-Alberta deals in the mid C$2.70s was surprised to see a package for today's flow jump to C$2.80. A NOVA pigging operation on its Western Alberta Extension will take up to 1 Bcf/d off the market, she said, but that doesn't start until Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Arlene caused a storm watch to be posted for Bermuda but was not considered a threat to Gulf of Mexico production.

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