Soaring Rockies prices, with some pipes going up by more than $3 and topping $7 in their high-end quotes, led a cash market uprising at virtually all points Wednesday. Cold weather in northern market areas and Tuesday’s 32.3-cent gain by May futures were responsible for the general firmness.

Meanwhile, despite the continuing lack of injection options at Questar’s Clay Basin storage facility and a 780 MMcf/d loss of Wheeler Ridge border receipt capacity into SoCalGas that will continue through Thursday, the Rockies continued a quite remarkable recovery. Anticipated above normal temperatures in much of the West turned out not to be as warm as expected (the Denver forecast called for a high of about 57 Wednesday to drop to 43 Thursday). Much of the West Coast was reported to be unseasonably cool. Also, previous issues with excess supply appeared to be swinging to the other side.

Only a flat Transco Zone 6-New York City in the Northeast missed out on gains that ranged from a little less than a nickel to around $3.80 (non-Rockies increases were capped at a dollar).

The screen has essentially neutral guidance for cash numbers Thursday after the May natural gas contract topped $8 at one point Wednesday but retreated to an eventual decline of 1.4 cents.

Kern River, which until Tuesday had been plagued by high linepack in most or all of its system recently, reported a combination of delivery point drafting and receipt point underperformance that had taken the pipeline to systemwide low linepack Wednesday. As a result of the Kern River situation, Southwest Gas declared an OFO until further notice (see Transportation Notes).

The South has returned to spring-like conditions again, despite a cold front moving through Wednesday night that would bring scattered thunderstorms. Mixes of snow and rain were slated to continue Thursday in parts of the Midwest and Northeast, although as much as 6-10 inches of heavy wet snow could drop on northeastern New York and sections of New England, The Weather Channel said.

A sales representative for several Gulf Coast independent producers said he was “kind of surprised that prices were so strong” because the South has gotten mild and for the most part only the parts of the Midwest nearest the Canadian border are still seeing sub-freezing temperatures. However, he reported getting late calls for intraday gas Wednesday, adding that he guessed some people must have underestimated their loads. “I make sure I don’t go short on next-day gas, not in this environment” where April prices are considerably stronger than expected earlier this year when analysts still anticipated record or near-record storage levels at the end of March.

The producer said $10 gas (in January 2008 futures) seemed psychologically appropriate in light of several predictions of an active 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

Noting the recent Rockies price volatility, a Texas-based marketer commented, “If you’ve got the right transport, you can ‘almost’ set your price” at will. He noted that the Chicago citygate spread from some Gulf Coast points widened, “but a lot of it had to do” with where the locations were. For example, Henry Hub had traded at 2 cents over Chicago Tuesday but the two points were about even with each other Wednesday.

Despite the price strength, he found it “kind of a ho-hum day” in the cash market. With the hurricane season looming in a little more than a month and a half, traders could probably use a few more of these “yawners” to help get ready before the excitement starts, he said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) expects below-normal temperatures to continue dominating the climate picture in the East next week. In its forecast for the April 16-20 workweek, the agency predicted such conditions to extend from West Texas through the Midcontinent, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic into the Lower Midwest and southern Northeast. Only normal temperatures in the Upper Midwest and northern half of the Northeast (above-normal readings are due in Maine) were excluded from the NWS forecast of above-normal temperatures for the eastern half of the U.S. NWS also looks for below-normal readings in a section from northwest Minnesota through North Dakota into eastern Montana and including the northern edge of South Dakota; and from most of Arizona through all of California and Nevada and including most of Oregon along with smaller parts of Utah and Idaho.

A survey of 20 industry players found an average expectation of a 14 Bcf storage injection for the week ending April 6, Reuters said. Estimates ranged from a 15 Bcf withdrawal to a build of 32 Bcf, the news service added.

Bentek Energy is looking for a build of 29 Bcf.

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