'Might as Well Burn Dollar Bills' in West Coast Market

Records are made to be broken, or so the saying goes. While prices continued to dive Friday from the Rockies/Southwest eastward, the California and Pacific Northwest markets kept revving it like never before. Malin and the PG&E citygate hit the new all-time high mark of $61.

"We might as well burn dollar bills instead of gas," jested one western trader. "It would be cheaper that way."

The West Coast was destined to feel the effects of this week's widely anticipated severe cold snap before other markets, sources noted. A moderation of last week's earlier chill allowed weekend softening to the east, but those markets are certain to be rebounding early this week as the front moves eastward, they said. An afternoon screen run-up of a little more than 20 cents also signaled renewed bullishness this week, but futures provided essentially no guidance to Friday's cash trading as they remained mostly flat throughout the morning.

West Coast ranges continued to be tremendous as prices started near their daily lows and then skyrocketed. The PG&E citygate was quoted as low as $33 before soaring to nearly 30 dollars higher. But the upward trend was detected in other areas also. One trader said MichCon citygates were less than $7 early before managing to finish above $8. He thought people pushed Midcontinent/Midwest numbers traded down too low in the early going, then bid them back up after pipes began warning of potential OFOs.

Told about the new super-high pricing in California, a Midwestern marketer replied, "We can't worry about California's problems. Gas at $9 is enough of a problem for our customers."

A Calgary producer, noting that intra-Alberta quotes were mostly flat in the C$11.00s to C$11.20s, said he didn't know why the provincial market wasn't taking part in the West Coast "madness. If we could get it there, we would."

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