No, it wasn’t a joke for April Fool’s Day. The April aftermarket did get off to a very strong start Monday with large advances across the board. Cash quotes got support in several areas: Tuesday forecasts of low temperatures around freezing or less from the Rockies/Pacific Northwest/Western Canada through the Midwest to inland sections of the Northeast; rising heat levels in parts of the South; an 11.3-cent screen gain Friday; and the return of industrial load from its typical weekend decline.

Questar’s spike of about a dollar was the only one to exceed double digits; otherwise, Monday’s gains ranged from a little more than a quarter to a little more than 90 cents.

Tuesday’s cash market will have strong prior-day futures support after Nymex’s natural gas contract for May ignored major losses in the nearby crude oil trading pit and jumped 30.1 cents Monday.

Although Florida Gas Transmission did not issue an Overage Alert Day, Florida Gas Zone 3 and the Florida citygate joined Texas Eastern M-1 (30-inch diameter line), the two Appalachian pipes and Northeast/Midwest citygates in averaging solidly above $10. Predictions of Sunshine State highs in the 80s Tuesday fueled the Florida Gas gains.

A windy storm in southeastern Canada will blow a cold front through the Northeast Tuesday, The Weather Channel (TWC) reported. The Midwest can expect a lot of wind too, accompanied by snow flurries across northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

It will largely be status quo in the West: low in the 20s and 30s across most of the region’s upper half, and ranging from cool along the coast to warm in the desert Southwest.

Summer-like conditions have been around for a while now in the Southwest, but it’s their spread toward the east into Texas and Louisiana that is creating significant new cooling demand that hadn’t really been a part of the market equation until this week.

A Texas-based marketer conceded that the current cold spells in northern market areas are not especially severe, but said their price impact is enhanced somewhat by having below-normal temperatures at a time when many people are hoping to start giving their furnaces a rest. Yes, it may not be getting much below freezing, he said, but that’s still pretty cold.

And northern heating load is starting to get some competition for gas supplies from southern cooling load, the marketer continued. He noted that a mid-afternoon look at TWC’s “current temperatures” map on its website,, showed a lot of red (high temperatures) splashed across Texas, Louisiana and most of Florida.

Prices tended to be rising toward the end of trading, he said, which often indicates which way the market will be moving on the following day. The Chicago citygate started around $9.90 but was up to $10.25 or so in late deals, he said.

Unlike some industry analysts who see withdrawals continuing into early April, the marketer said he expects this week’s storage report (for last week’s activity) to reflect the last net withdrawal until around November.

A Gulf Coast producer agreed that the combination of northern cold and growing heat in the South was the primary driver of Monday’s price advances. He reported being unaware of any April baseload trading still being done Monday. There might be some special cases that needed taking care of, he said, but there was very little of it.

Ron Denhardt, vice president of natural gas services at Strategic Energy & Economic Research, expects a 38 Bcf storage withdrawal to be reported for the week ending March 28.

The number of drilling rigs actively searching for gas in the U.S. rose by 14 during the week ending March 28, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig County ( Three rigs were added in the Gulf of Mexico, Baker Hughes said, and the onshore count was up by 11. Its figures are up 2% from a month ago and down 2% from the year-earlier level.

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