“We could call it ‘the blizzard that wasn’t,'” jested a marketerin reference to the Nor’easter that had been billed as the firstbig winter storm of the year in the Northeast but turned out to berelatively benign after all. It and other market factors werelosing their price-boosting punch Tuesday, with the result thatnearly all points ranged from flat to about 20 cents lower. Thestandout exception to the general market was a Southern Californiaborder plunge of more than $5.

The storm turned out to be “not nearly as big a deal” as manypeople had been expecting Monday, the marketer said, noting thatNew York City schools had closed and that Nymex had halted tradingearly Monday and delayed its start Tuesday in anticipation. Theimpact on regional heating load was much less than might beexpected because major coastal urban areas such as New York Cityand Boston were spared the worst of the storm. Most of the severesnowfalls were concentrated in upstate New York and inland sectionsof New England.

The late Nymex start had another impact, according to a GulfCoast trader. “A lot of people seemed to be afraid to make anydeals for a while [Tuesday] morning until the screen activated,” hesaid. They were reluctant to commit to any prices without knowingwhich way futures were moving, he added.

Although about 600 MMcf/d of offshore gas remained off themarket at least through today due to the Destin shutdown (seeTransportation Notes), the loss appeared to be having little effectTuesday on either production area or market area prices, a coupleof sources agreed.

Calling it a “kind of slow” market, a Midcontinent marketer saidprices were tailing off in late deals. “We’re starting to lose someheating load in the Midwest,” he said. Although they might turnsouth again over the weekend, Midwest high temperatures likely willbe up into the 40s toward Friday, he said.

The California border drop in hugely volatile trading (Tuesday’squote range exceeded $20) likely was due to traders shedding theirworries about SoCal Gas storage holding out for the rest of thewithdrawal season, according to one western trader. Also, El Pasolifted its low-linepack OFO and just about all of themaintenance-related field capacity restrictions will no longer bein effect for today’s gas day, she noted.

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