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Heat Levels Revive, And So Do Prices

Some easing of hot weather going into the weekend had been reversed as the new trading week began, and prices were up strongly across the board Monday -- even featuring a couple of dollar-plus jumps in New England as peak temperatures neared 90 in the Boston area.

The previous Friday's uptick of 7.2 cents by August futures and the restoration of industrial load from its weekend decline were additional bullish factors for the cash market.

As it so often happens in an up market, the Northeast led the ascent. Gains ranged from a little more than a dime to slightly more than $1.10.

Tuesday's market will continue to have screen support after prompt-month futures rose another 8.3 cents (see related story).

Much of the Midwest is experiencing cooling trends, but only upper sections are expected to fail to reach the 80s Tuesday. Also staying on the cooler side are parts of the Upper Plains, the West Coast and most of central and Western Canada which are not expected to see highs in the 80s, 90s and 100s Tuesday.

Top thermometer readings in the 90s and 100s are due to reign from the South Atlantic coast through the western South and Midcontinent into most of the desert Southwest. The 80s will be more dominant in the Northeast, Midwest and Rockies, but even Concord, NH, could expect to reach the 90 area after hitting the low 90s Monday, according to Madison, WI-based Weather Central.

However, the Upper Midwest appears about to lose most, if not all, of any current cooling load. The Northern Natural Gas bulletin board projects that following Monday's warmish average service-area temperature around 78, the pipeline will be seeing readings of 71 each Tuesday and Wednesday, close to the normal system-weighted temperature of 72 at this time of year.

The warming of the Northeast prompted Tennessee to issue an Imbalance Warning OFO for its two farthest downstream zones (see Transportation Notes), but no other new significant transport restrictions were being implemented.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) was giving only 10% odds of becoming a tropical cyclone within 48 hours to a tropical wave about 550 miles east of the southern Windward Islands (off northeastern South America) that it was monitoring Monday. That afternoon NHC added a large area of showers and thunderstorms over the western Caribbean Sea and portions of Central America to its Atlantic Basin map but considered it as having a near-zero chance of development.

Noting that the West Coast is about the only part of the U.S. remaining cool, a western trader said a marine layer is keeping coastal temperatures tamped down. He said PG&E's new series of daily high/low-inventory OFOs, which are expected to last through the end of the year (see Daily GPI, Jan. 8), is requiring a "lot more micromanagement" of supplies by his company than before but no real problems.

Active gas-directed drilling rigs in the U.S. declined by one during the week ending July 8, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count. The single deactivation occurred onshore, with the Gulf of Mexico count unchanged, Baker Hughes said. Its tally is now 1% less than a month ago and down 9% from the year-ago level.

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