Only West Coast Misses Out on Price Rebounds

A revised National Weather Service forecast, expanding the prediction of below normal temperatures for the Christmas weekend to the entire United States except for the sparsely populated Upper Plains, kept most prices from softening Friday, as some had anticipated. Except for the still-most-expensive West Coast market, all other points realized gains from about a dime (San Juan Basin) to a little more than 50 cents (Northern Natural Gas market area).

"It looks like producers will be having a green Christmas" revenue-wise, jested a marketer.

Despite a futures advance of nearly a dollar, the cash rally certainly was not a case of following the screen, one trader insisted, because most cash deals had been completed by the time the January natural gas contract made most of its move upward. In fact, he said, it was more a case of the screen "following the cash."

Most sources agreed that the new forecast was pretty much the sole explanation for rising prices, but one also suggested that both cash and futures traders were having second thoughts about how serious the impact of this week's storage report might be. AGA is expected to report one of the larger weekly withdrawals ever, due to the widespread nature of last week's arctic front.

Gulf Coast and Midcontinent/Midwest traders reported mild spikes in late deals, mostly in response to the screen's big uptick. Chicago citygates got an extra boost from tight supplies in Western Canada, where NOVA tightened imbalance tolerances to prevent drafting of the system, a marketer said.

Only Kingsgate among the California/Pacific Northwest points joined in the overall bull market, and Kingsgate's rise also might also have been related to the intra-Alberta tightness, a producer said. The others were led downward by a drop of slightly more than a dollar at the Southern California border. Despite their softening, the West Coast points remained the only ones recording their average prices in four digits.

After 12 straight days of beginning each morning with at least a Stage One Electrical Emergency in place, the Cal-ISO thought it worth declaring to the world that an alert was not necessary Friday morning. However, it saw a possibility of having to issue one that afternoon.

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