The market appeared to be bowing a bit lower than before Friday in acknowledgment of the mostly moderate weather fundamentals that it had largely been defying in the previous two weeks. Even a 6.7-cent gain a day earlier by October futures in the face of an obviously bearish storage injection report failed to prevent a modest majority of points from seeing small declines for the weekend.

Close-to-flat averages were dominant, but most points fell 2-3 cents to nearly a dime, with the Rockies recording most of the larger declines. Other locations were flat to about a nickel higher.

After rallying Thursday despite an above-expectations storage injection, prompt-month futures succumbed to a dip of 3.8 cents Friday (see related story). There was some market buzz over one company's forecast of a new tropical storm forming in the western Caribbean Sea before the end of the month, but it apparently had little effect on either the futures or cash markets.

Minuscule heat increases were predicted for the weekend in some parts of the South, but small temperature retreats were due in the Rockies. Otherwise a mild-to-slightly cold weather outlook remained the status quo for the rest of the U.S. and Canada.

Tropical Storm Karl had reached hurricane status in the Bay of Campeche before making landfall Friday near Veracruz, Mexico, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Hurricanes Igor and Julia remained on generally northward projected trackings that would keep them well off the East Coast.

Meanwhile, NHC had begun to monitor a broad low-pressure system a couple of hundred miles south of the Cape Verde Islands, but said Friday it had only a 10% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within the succeeding 48 hours.

A PG&E high-inventory OFO (see Transportation Notes) resulted in drops of a couple of pennies and about a nickel at Malin and the PG&E citygate, according to IntercontinentalExchange (ICE). It recorded a drop of trading activity on its online platform from 408,500 MMBtu for Friday's gas day to 344,700 MMBtu for the weekend at Malin, but despite the OFO ICE volumes at the citygate soared from 798,900 MMBtu to 987,700 MMBtu.

But in the Southwest basin production area El Paso was cautioning customers about a possible Strained Operating Condition being issued for its system due to low linepack. Despite that, El Paso pricing in the Permian Basin and its two San Juan Basin pools was down about a nickel each, ICE said. However, Blanco pool volumes dropped almost imperceptibly, it added.

Because of light demand in its service area, Southern said Friday it was "too close to call" on whether it would declare an OFO Type 6 Saturday or Sunday for long imbalances, but an OFO for short imbalances was unlikely.

The CIG-Henry Hub basis spread continues to shrink gradually. After CIG being at a 52-cent deficit a week earlier, the differential was down to about 48 cents Friday.

Even though fall won't officially begin until Wednesday, a western trader said Friday the summer season had already ended as far as the West Coast was concerned. Much of California will be getting even cooler than before this week, he said. The trader said he didn't know what to make of the coexisting PG&E high-inventory OFO and El Paso experiencing low linepack.

The U.S. Natural Gas Hub Flows chart by Bentek Energy showed the biggest drop in nominations for Friday, in terms of both actual volumes and as a percentage, at Texas Eastern M-3. It was down 408,000 MMBtu from a day earlier to 1,771,000 MMBtu, or 19%, Bentek said. Another Northeast location, Transco Zone 6, saw the next largest decline of 12%, down 157,000 MMBtu to 1,201,000 MMBtu.

The Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count found an increase of two rigs to 982 targeting gas in the U.S. during the week ending Sept. 17. Both additions were onshore, Baker Hughes said, with the Gulf of Mexico tally stagnant at 12. Its latest count was flat from a month ago but 39% higher than the year-earlier level.

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