Although most points continued to drop Monday, mild firmness at several points created a mixed market and indicated slightly more firmness than on the preceding Friday when all points were down. Except for high temperatures with peaks from the mid 90s to the mid 100s forecast for Tuesday from the Southeast through the desert Southwest, most areas were expected to have relatively moderate temperatures around 90 or lower.

Most points saw losses ranging from 2-3 cents to nearly a quarter. As it has been often in recent weeks, the Florida citygate was way outside the overall market trend with a plunge of about $4 after Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) ended an Overage Alert Day that had lasted about a month (see Transportation Notes). In addition, Florida Gas in Zones 3 and 1 recorded the biggest non-citygate declines.

Most of the locations that were flat to nearly a dime higher were in the Northeast and Midcontinent. Despite very hot weather in the South, the Gulf Coast tended to see the largest declines.

Apparently Nymex traders were not impressed by what the National Hurricane Center (NHC) described as "a broad surface low" moving westward from just offshore southwestern Florida Monday afternoon, although the agency raised the low's chances of becoming a tropical or subtropical cyclone from 20% to 30% during the day. September futures continued their recent weakness in falling another 15.8 cents Monday (see related story). Unless the low does strengthen significantly, it will not represent much more than stiff breezes and rain to Gulf of Mexico interests.

Something that may eventually make the futures market sit up and take notice was another low-pressure area that NHC gave 70% odds of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours. However, since it was still out in the mid-Atlantic about 900 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands, it was too early to gauge its potential threat to offshore production for at least a few more days.

NHC was no longer monitoring what was left of Tropical Storm Colin, which continued to move northward in the Atlantic well away from the East Coast.

Now that FGT's Overage Alert Day has ended, transportation restrictions are fairly minor.

However, the Weather 2000 consulting firm said the strongest U.S. heat wave of the year is again peaking in August, with 100-degree air spreading eastward. Population hubs in the eastern half of the nation are tallying days with highs of 90, 95 and even 100, it said, with "Dallas incredibly targeting 14 straight days" at peaking above 100.

And SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analysts chimed in by noting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects "a blistering" 101 total cooling degree days this week -- 26% more than last year and 35% more than the long-term average. "If the forecast holds, this will mark the sixth consecutive week of above-average temperatures," they said.

Although the Algonquin citygate recorded one of Monday's rare gains of nearly 4 cents, IntercontinentalExchange said volumes traded on its online system fell from 240,800 MMBtu for the weekend to 217,700 MMBtu for Tuesday flows.

On the other hand, Columbia Gas pricing slumped by a little more than 20 cents, but ICE volumes there soared from 706,400 MMBtu during the weekend to 993,100 MMBtu Monday.

According to a report by The Canadian Press, crews were trying to control a fire at an Encana Corp. gas well in the extreme northeastern corner of British Columbia during the weekend. The fire began about 5:30 a.m. local time Saturday after a blowout during drilling, Encana spokeswoman Carol Howes was reported as saying. A request for an update had not been returned by press deadline.

Northern Natural Gas illustrated the above-normal temperatures in much of the Upper Midwest with a bulletin board posting saying its normal system-weighted temperature at this time of year is 72, but it projected averages of 82, 81 and 79 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Local conditions were pretty comfortable Friday and Saturday, an Upper Midwest marketer said, and rainy weather was keeping highs lower than 90 Monday and Tuesday. However, temperatures were due to heat up into the 90s later this week. Her company was not buying any spot gas for clients Monday, but may need to in the next day or two as temperatures pick up.

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