The cash market eased overall Monday an average of 3 cents, but if titanic gains at some Northeastern points are factored out, the change was closer to a decline of 6 cents. A major Northeast pipeline announced significant maintenance work and deliveries north into Boston were sharply reduced. Weakness was also noted at California, Gulf, and Rockies points. At the close of futures trading October had sagged 7.8 cents to $2.865 and November was down 6.8 cents to $3.015. October crude oil tumbled $2.38 to $96.62/bbl.

According to a posting by Algonquin Gas Transmission on its website, a major restriction between Cromwell in Connecticut and Burrville in Rhode Island reduced supplies into Boston. Shippers looking for alternative flow path options were advised to source gas from Tennessee, the Maritimes or Distrigas (LNG) in Boston.

"It's going to be pretty major. Flows will be down to about 400,000 Dt," said one eastern marketer.

"Cromwell is where they are having the maintenance. They have been doing it all summer, but not to the degree they are currently restricting."

Northeast prices vaulted higher, but eastern points eased. Quotes on Algonquin jumped $1.47 to $4.52 and deliveries on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L added 94 cents to $3.94. At Iroquois Waddington next day gas gained 23 cents to $3.47.

Eastern points retreated. Deliveries to Tetco M-3 fell 2 cents to average $2.90 and parcels into Transco Zone 6 New York shed 8 cents to $2.89. Tuesday gas on Dominion dropped 9 cents to $2.77.

AccuWeather.com reported that a major cooling was in store for much of the country this week.

"Another strong cold front will be making inroads across the eastern two-thirds of the nation early this week, cutting daytime temperatures by more than 30 degrees in some areas. Though waves of cool air have permeated the country over the past week, this significant cooldown is likely a sign of a pattern change that will lock in through at least the end of the month," said meteorologist Bill Deger.

He said the change was first felt in the northern Plains and Upper Midwest as chillier air from Canada arrived along a brisk northerly wind in the wake of the front. "Temperatures well into the 80s to start the weekend on Saturday were replaced by 50s and 60s to finish it in cities such as Billings, Fargo and Winnipeg."

"Similar changes will arrive today [Monday] farther south and east from the Front Range of the Rockies to the western Great Lakes, including in the cities of Denver, Omaha and Minneapolis. The rest of the Midwest, Ohio Valley and even a significant part of the interior Northeast will cool off on Tuesday," he predicted.

California points also weakened as loads lightened. "On our side of the house [gas] and the electric side, there is just no demand. It's a little bit lower than normal for this time of year, but not that much. It also corresponds to the drop in the October contract as well," said a northern California buyer.

Temperatures in Northern California were expected to be well below normal. Wunderground.com forecast that the high in San Francisco Monday of 64 degrees would ease to 63 Tuesday before rising to 64 Wednesday. The normal high for San Francisco this time of year is 74.

"Below normal temperatures...especially away from the coast are expected through Thursday. An upper low ...will slowly move northeast to west of the Oregon/California coast by late Wednesday afternoon. This will keep the ridge a bit flattened over Southern California and Nevada," the National Weather Service in San Francisco said.

Quotes at Malin averaged 4 cents lower at $2.79 and deliveries to the PG&E Citygate slipped 4 cents to $3.35. Tuesday gas into SoCal Citygate came in 11 cents lower at an average $3.13 and at SoCal Border next day deliveries were a stout 16 cents lower at $3.00. On El Paso S Mainline next day deliveries fell 13 cents to $3.01.

Quotes at Midwest points didn't quite fall as hard. Tuesday gas on Michcon averaged $2.99 or two cents lower and deliveries to Consumers dropped two cents to $2.99 as well. At the Chicago Citygate next-day gas fell 8 cents to $2.93 and on Alliance next-day prices came in 4 cents higher at $2.93.

Futures markets were a sea of tranquility compared to the activity at some cash points."We were stuck in a range of $2.86 to $2.88 it seems like forever," said a New York floor trader.

"It was a gradual slide throughout the day. We came in lower than Friday's settlement and settled only a penny off the lows. Traders are saying $2.85 is a big support number, and below that $2.80 to $2.82."

The weather outlook is variable and unlikely to support prices anytime soon. As is often the case during the shoulder season, forecasters see a highly variable pattern with temperature anomalies not great enough to impact energy usage. "The big blocking features that are responsible for the current series of cool pushes into the Midwest, East and South in mid-late September are showing signs of movement now, such that the pattern becomes more variable with less coverage and duration of cool anomalies especially once we reach the 11-15 day (which is now on the edge of October)," said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group.

"The American ensembles suggest one more cool push is possible in the 11-15 for the Midwest and East, but the Euro ensembles and American operational model are instead showing a warmer, westerly Pacific flow into the Midcontinent more frequently. We favor the Euro ensembles, which still show variability but trend the Midcontinent warmer as the blocks fade."

Commodity Weather Group shows in its six- to 10-day forecast a large ridge of below-normal temperatures covering the Ohio and Mississippi valleys and above- to much above-normal temperatures extending from the Northern Plains as far south as Arizona.

Analysts are not looking for a major advance. "Natural gas continues to trade in its volatile two-sided range," said Mike DeVooght, president of Devo Capital, a Colorado-based trading and risk management firm. "The market is healing, but this process could be long and drawn out. On a trading basis, we will hold current positions," he said in a weekend note to clients.

He currently advises trading accounts and end-users to stand aside, but producers should hold short the remainder of a summer strip at $3.00-3.20 and a winter strip at $3.75-3.95. "Continue to sell any winter months $3.75-3.95 (light position) and hold the remainder of October $2.50 puts designed to cover the summer strip at 25-27 cents."

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