“It just goes to show you. This gas market doesn’t make muchsense,” a marketer said. Her comment reflected the chagrin of manytraders Thursday when late-January cash prices tended to firm by upto a nickel instead of falling as generally expected. Most sourceshad been sure Wednesday that the anemic storage withdrawal figurereported by AGA (92 Bcf) would lead to cash softness. Sourcesprofessed to have no clue as to what was propping up prices in theface of no fundamental support, although one suggested the strongFebruary futures close might have given cash a psychological boost.

The disruption of Westcoast supplies from the shutdown of theMcMahon Processing Plant apparently will be short-lived, as thepipeline expressed relative confidence Thursday in being able torestart McMahon today (see Transportation Notes). Meanwhile,though, Sumas numbers were spiking to an oft-quoted $2.88 level,although one trader reported also being able to buy Sumas as low as$2.03 in addition to selling at $2.88.

Curiously, Stanfield was the only Sumas-related point that alsospiked. One trader said an early hearsay report of a $3 Stanfielddeal led to several people offering to sell at the same price,which she refused. Malin saw a rise into the $1.80s for a while butlater fell back a flat mid-$1.70s level, traders said. WestcoastStation 2 might have been expected to soar from the McMahon outagebut was reported up only about a nickel to around C$2.40, andintra-Alberta quotes failed to budge from the mid to high C$2.20s.

Outside Sumas and Stanfield, incremental Northeast citygateswere the most sizeable gainers as colder weather moved in there.

Though not true in all markets, bidweek numbers were movinghigher at some points. Columbia-Appalachia gained almost a dime tothe mid $1.90s, a marketer said. Another trader said SouthernCalifornia border numbers were 2-3 cents higher Thursday. Butanother Western source said his February markets moved very littlein response to Wednesday’s screen uptick, as did a Midcontinenttraders.

Despite bidweek’s firming trend, most sources are bearish aboutthe February aftermarket. “I think we’re going to see a big slidein the first half of February unless some serious weather comesalong,” one said. Another reported similar thinking, saying hewould be going short into the month. In another opinion, a marketersaid, “Looking at the weather forecast, I would rather be short inthis aftermarket, but there seems to be others in that camp. Forthat reason, I will go into the aftermarket flat and play it safe.”

A Rockies producer had a contrarian view about the pricepessimism: “Whenever everyone is convinced the market is headed inone direction, it’s almost a sure bet it will reverse to the otherdirection.”

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