The cash market began the week Monday greatly resembling the way it did in the preceding week -- with substantive price gains at a large majority of points based on strong cold weather fundamentals across the East but with the Rockies taking steep dives due to generally weak western heating load, limited storage injection opportunities and regional transport constraints.

Physical quotes also had a modicum of residual support from the 9.2-cent gain last Thursday by May futures. However, that support will be lacking Tuesday. The May gas contract was a few cents higher early in Monday's trading session but was eventually dragged down to a 6.1-cent loss by tremendous weakness in Nymex's petroleum product offerings. Crude oil tumbled $2.77 to $61.51/bbl as traders considered risk premiums to be easing.

Most of the West outside the Rockies joined nearly all of the East in recording advances ranging from about a nickel to around half a dollar. A few scattered flat points were the only exceptions in the East (Chicago was notably among the flat points despite having a low just above freezing forecast for Tuesday). A Kern Delivery pool decline of about 15 cents was dwarfed by Rockies plunges that ranged from about half a dollar to as much as $1.50.

While temperatures in the South generally weren't getting as cold as in the North and Midwest, the out-of-season touch of winter did show up in much of the South over the holiday weekend. But while cold weather will be sticking around for a while longer in the northern market areas, moderation trends will be under way as soon as Tuesday in some sections of the South. The West has relatively little severe cold outside its northerly mountainous areas.

In addition to not much heating load, the West also had supply issues that included a two-day high-linepack OFO by SoCalGas during the weekend (but the OFO wasn't renewed beyond Sunday), Kern River reported high linepack Monday in all but the farthest upstream of its four segments, and a ban on nominations at Questar's Clay Basin storage facility during testing that will last through April 18.

A staffer at Bentek Energy in Golden, CO, said once pipelines out of the Rockies get full or close to it, the local market's relative lack of takeaway capacity denies some gas a home. Bentek's flow analysis showed that Cheyenne Plains, Trailblazer, CIG and Southern Star Central were at 100% or nearly 100% utilization going east Monday, while Northwest, El Paso and Kern River were at 95% or greater utilization going west, he said.

In reference to the unseasonal cold that was dominating eastern weather, Weather 2000 reminded clients that in December 2006 it had revealed its research detecting a continued seasonal shift of North American winters more toward spring months. "With the exception of the year 2000, winters have shown a multi-decadal shift away from increasingly mild Novembers and towards increasingly cold Marches and Aprils. This has been making the corresponding climate regime more synchronized with the calendar/astronomical winter. If this trend continues in coming years, a 'White Easter' may eventually become as statistically likely as a 'White Christmas,'" Weather 2000 said. "Fast forward to April 2007, and further validation of this assessment couldn't have rung more true."

The consulting firm also reported these notes about recent climate condition: New York City's average temperature of 36 degrees Sunday marked its coldest Easter since 1959 and its coldest April Easter since 1923. Cleveland tallied about a foot of snowfall over the holiday weekend, with the Cleveland Indians baseball games snowed out for three days. Numerous Southern locations have plummeted to the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the month of April with Charlotte, NC, hitting 21 degrees and Columbia, SC, hitting 26 degrees. Jacksonville, FL, (31degrees) additionally recorded its latest freeze ever on April 8, surpassing the previous latest freeze set on March 31, 1964. Marquette, MI, has received a "phenomenal" 50 inches of snowfall in April thus far. Chicago has experienced an entire five-day period averaging 15 degrees below normal.

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