Riding the support of both cold weather demand and a prior-day futures spike of more than a dollar, natural gas cash prices were up strongly again Wednesday across the board. Gains ranged from a little less than a dime to nearly $1.10. A large majority of the increases were at least 40 cents or more.

Early-morning freezing temperatures, frost and/or snow showers were forecast to continue Thursday in the Northeast and Midwest, although more moderate daytime conditions were expected in much of the Midwest. Most of the South was expected to remain unseasonably chilly, but like the Midwest should see more comfortable midday conditions. Temperatures in the West were expected to remain moderate, with lows in the 40s predicted only in the highest mountain locations.

A Midwestern marketer considered it “kind of a coin flip” on whether there is enough cold weather load to keep cash rising Thursday or whether Wednesday’s near-month futures loss of nearly 30 cents will drag the physical market lower. After some hesitation, he said, “I think we’ll go up,” adding that the storage report should influence late deals higher or lower.

Naturally, cash traders will be interested in Thursday morning’s storage number, but at least one analyst believes that no matter where the report stands in relation to prior expectations, it will be relatively meaningless this late in the injection season with inventories comfortably full for the approaching winter heating season (see futures story).

Potential signs of western weakness were surfacing. They included PG&E’s high-inventory OFO (see Transportation Notes); Questar’s requirement that all interruptible storage must be removed within 30 days from its Clay Basin facility starting next week (see Transportation Notes), which will put extra supplies up for grabs in the Rockies market; and Westcoast’s continuance of an imbalance tolerance range that encourages drafting of its system. But despite the OFO, PG&E citygates were up about half a dollar Wednesday, and western gains were generally as strong as those in the rest of the market.

The tremendous power outages left behind in Florida by Hurricane Wilma are taking their toll on Gulfstream deliveries. The pipeline declared an Action Alert Wednesday, saying it had been experiencing high linepack recently (see Transportation Notes). Florida Power & Light, a primary customer of Gulfstream, reported nearly 2.5 customers as still not having power Wednesday despite the utility having restored service to more than 600,000 accounts.

Gulf of Mexico production began to recover again, if ever so slightly, after a brief period of falling due to precautionary shut-ins while Hurricane Wilma was still on the loose in the southern Gulf. Minerals Management Service said 68 companies reported 5,563.15 MMcf/d as remaining offline Tuesday, down 19.19 MMcf/d from the day before. Its tally of evacuated facilities fell by 10 to 228 for production platforms and by seven to 17 for mobile drilling rigs.

Could Tropical Storm Beta be coming up? What The Weather Channel called “an area of disturbed weather” just north of Panama in the lower Caribbean Sea was getting better organized Wednesday and had a chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next day or two.

Bidweek numbers were up from Tuesday’s but trading in wide ranges due to the screen “bouncing around,” a marketer said. She reported these November quotes for deals done Wednesday: Waha, $11.25-60; Southern California border-Needles, $11.30-80; and Transwestern-Permian, mid $11.00s.

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