Prices dwindled at virtually all points Friday as cooling load remained largely static or dropped in such key market areas as the Northeast. The previous day's decline of 3 cents by September futures was an additional, but minor, bearish influence on the cash market.

A gain of a little more than 60 cents by the Florida citygate was very much a market anomaly as Florida Gas Transmission issued a new Overage Alert Day (see Transportation Notes). It was joined by flat numbers at Florida Gas Zone 1 in South Texas as the rare exceptions to overall losses ranging from a couple of pennies to about a quarter.

Prompt-month futures managed to rally by 3.2 cents Friday (see related story), but it was doubtful that would be able to boost Monday's cash prices.

The National Hurricane Center said it no longer had any tropical systems to monitor at the end of last week.

Baker Hughes said the number of drilling rigs searching for gas in the U.S. rose nine to 992 in the week ending Aug. 13 -- the highest level since late February of last year.

Columbia Gas Transmission volumes traded on IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) saw a big dive from 954,200 MMBtu Thursday to 633,600 MMBtu for the weekend as prices into the pipe fell a little more than a dime, ICE said. However, Katy Hub trading rose from 503,800 MMBtu to 573,400 MMBtu even as quotes there fell about a nickel, ICE said.

High temperatures were expected to remain around the mid to upper 90s throughout the southern third of the U.S. and the southern Rockies into the weekend, but were moderating in the Northeast and barely rising in the Midwest.

There's "so much gas out there" in terms of available supplies is how a Southwest utility buyer explained Friday's price softness. And even though the weather is hot, conservation measures have been reducing gas demand in his company's service area, he added. Even though demand is up overall, "gas prices still have a lot of supply to be absorbed," the buyer said.

A Rockies producer noted that CIG basis relative to Henry Hub widened to about a dollar Friday, blaming it primarily on lack of West Coast demand. There's plenty of takeaway pipe capacity in the Rockies now, he said, but supplies from Western Canada have been greatly displacing Rockies gas in the West Coast market. And even inland California temperatures, usually well above those on the coast, have been below normal in recent weeks, he added.

More storage capacity is needed in California as their facilities are already near full, the producer continued. And local cooling demand is low as Rockies highs should be dropping into the 70s this weekend, he said.

A Lower Midwest utility staffer said weather had been "pretty icky lately" in terms of heat and humidity, but it was due to cool a little over the weekend.

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