Flatness dominated at nearly all market points Thursday, andseveral sources anticipate a softening mode today due both to thescreen’s decline Thursday and the usual slump of weekend usage.Also, a marketer said cooling weekend temperatures in Texas shoulddampen some of the recent air conditioning load in the state.

Denver-Julesburg Basin prices into CIG were retreating fromtheir $3-plus peaks to no higher than $2.80 even though PublicService Co. of Colorado extended its OFO (see Daily GPI, April 16)at least through today. The company will announce today whether theOFO will last into the weekend, one source said. The state wasstill getting snowfalls Thursday.

A marketer was sympathetic toward PSCO’s situation. The utility”is only gearing itself for the deregulated world,” she said. “Theyhave customers they are committed to serve, so why should they beforced to buy [makeup] gas when transportation customers arecontinuing to short the system?” OFO penalties are $25/MMbtu plusthe cost of replacement supplies for any shortfall from nominatedvolumes, the marketer said.

Western prices, especially California-related ones, haveremained strong because the state has seen temperatures runningabout 10 degrees below normal in both daily highs and lows,according to one trader. In addition, hydropower in the PacificNorthwest is not as robust as it should be this time of year, hesaid. Instead of exporting power as usual, Northwest utilities havebeen buying extra gas for their own generation needs, he added. Thetrader does expect some weakening of weekend prices as temperaturesreturn to near normal.

Along with Malin, San Juan-Blanco was about the only point tomanage a rise of about a nickel, largely due to El Paso’s issuanceof an OFO (see Transportation Notes).

Several sources noted how quiet current trading activity seems.One thought it was mainly a case of “those blase,middle-of-the-month blues.” Another had the feeling that”everybody’s waiting for futures to crash.”

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