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Western Increases Contrast With Eastern Flatness

Western Increases Contrast With Eastern Flatness

While eastern markets meandered around in a generally flat performance Monday, the West was achieving significant gains of about a nickel or more. Topping the list was San Juan Basin, where supply outages helped drive quotes up by about 15 cents. Prices in the Rockies, Pacific Northwest and western Canada also were strong due to cold weather. It snowed in Calgary Monday morning, one source said, adding this is late in the season for snow but not a record for Calgary.

A marketer estimated as much as 600 MMcf/d from San Juan is being held off the market as a heavy maintenance month continues in the basin. A producer agreed with that assessment and said he expects San Juan pricing to remain strong through the end of May because of the plant and compressor station outages. But it's a double-edged sword for producers, he went on. It's nice to have higher prices for your gas, "but if as much as 75% of it is being curtailed, that doesn't do you any good at all." Even in low-maintenance periods the basin has flow problems at times, he said.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast was unable to take advantage of its usual post-weekend price recovery, even with mild encouragement from the Henry Hub futures contract for June, a marketer in the region said. Only a few pipes were able to manage gains as small as a penny, he said.

A Houston-based producer said market activity was considerably lighter than usual because many traders were attending the GasMart/Power '99 trade fair in Dallas. And to compound that situation, a severe thunderstorm knocked out power across much of the western half of Houston early in the morning.

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