Cash prices softened a bit Tuesday in mostly featureless tradingas major markets in the Midwest and Northeast cooled off. Themajority of points saw prices ranging from flat to down about anickel with no single region standing out as especially strong orweak. About the only exception to that general rule wasintra-Alberta, which started off around Monday’s C$2.04-05 averagebut quickly ramped up to near the top end of Monday’s range andwound up gaining about a nickel overall, a marketer reported. Forwhatever reason provincial field receipts have been lower thanexpected this week, she said, although only a few plants are stillundergoing annual turnaround maintenance.

Although Permian Basin gas fell a few cents, it rebounded into thehigh $1.90s on a late supply squeeze that likely was related to ElPaso’s low-linepack OFO (see TransportationNotes), a marketer said.

Williams and ONG continued to trade at premiums to otherMidcontinent pipes (except for NorAm-east) due to the ongoingoutage of Amoco’s big Hugoton Jayhawk plant on Williams andtemperatures exceeding 100 degrees within Oklahoma.

Traders were keeping an eye on a tropical depression off WestAfrica, although a Canadian source was puzzled that it seemed tomake no impression on the futures screen. A forecasting serviceexpected the depression to develop into Tropical Storm Alex, theAtlantic’s first named storm of the 1998 hurricane season, by thisafternoon.

A Gulf Coast producer said he hadn’t done any fixed-price dealsfor August yet, “but basis seems to be hanging in there solid.” ATexas marketer was surprised that August activity remained as slowas it did Tuesday; she figured a lot of people must be waiting fortoday’s Nymex settlement.

Traders offered this sampling Tuesday of August fixed prices: ElPaso-Permian at $1.91-93; Malin at $2.00 (although a Californiabuyer said he was hearing mid $2.00s); Kingsgate at $1.61; andStanfield at $1.74. Intra-Alberta appears to be firming slightly,said a Calgary source whose deals so far have averaged C$1.97 butwho was seeing a C$1.98-2.00 range Tuesday afternoon on anelectronic trading service. A buyer pegged Transco Zone 6-New YorkCity basis at plus 21-22.

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