As on Friday, the cash market was mixed and mostly softer again Monday. However, with air conditioning load starting to rebuild gradually in the South and already being well established in the Southwest, Monday's trading featured were more flat to moderately higher points in the mix than on Friday.

The overall losses ranged from 2-3 cents to a little more than 67 cents, but NGPL-Louisiana was the only point to fall more than about 20 cents. Otherwise, quotes were flat to up about a quarter. The Rockies and Midcontinent tended to see most of the gains, while the Gulf Coast was almost solidly weaker.

All points were 20 cents or more below first-of-month indexes Monday, with a couple (Florida citygate and NGPL-Louisiana) running dollar-plus deficits.

Natural gas at Nymex appeared to be feeling more affinity with the petroleum markets than it had late last week. Riding the coattails of a spike of nearly $2 in June crude oil, the natural gas screen ended a string of seven consecutive losses with an increase of 14 cents Monday. That should be sufficient to cause modest rallies at most if not all cash trading points Tuesday, according to one source.

In an updated assessment of damage to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas infrastructure from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Minerals Management Service (MMS) said the number of pipelines damaged had risen to 457 from 183 in a previous assessment released Jan. 19 (see related story). In more positive Gulf Coast market developments, the Sea Robin Processing Plant was reported to be operating again and Southern Natural Gas said three more offshore points had been cleared to resume flows recently (see Transportation Notes).

Cold fronts are in the forecast for the South, Midwest and southern Plains, and an Atlantic storm is heading for New England, although none of those events is expected to lower temperatures to much below seasonal norms. The West will be fairly moderate in its northern half but should see afternoon highs ranging from 95 to 105 degrees in the desert Southwest, The Weather Channel said.

So far so good, a Texas-based marketer said of Nicor's change of citygate allocation procedures that began Monday. A number of Chicago citygate traders had complained about hassles from having to work around the northern Illinois LDCs allocations during April. "All of our gas that was nominated into Nicor got there, so that was an improvement" over last month, the marketer said. Hopefully that will continue in May and his company won't have to occasionally borrow from other suppliers, he added.

He said there "probably" will be a little rebound in cash prices Tuesday related to the screen's gain Monday. However, he still was not seeing much weather-related demand, saying conditions are quite moderate in the Northeast and Midwest market areas. GasMart 2006 in Denver will probably slow down cash market activity a bit in the last half of the week, he said.

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