It was difficult to discern where the support was coming from, but most points were still rising by small amounts Tuesday. Cooling load was fairly light outside the desert Southwest and much of California, and the 20.2-cent drop Monday by October futures certainly didn’t suggest any rationale for further cash increases.

All one source could suggest was a possible rush to finish filling storage accounts early, which she said could be leading up to “a train wreck” for prices next month.

A large majority of locations were flat to about a dime higher, with most of the gains of a nickel or more in the Gulf Coast, Midwest and Northeast. Nearly all of the losses ranging from a couple of pennies to about 15 cents were in the West.

The cash market will have modest screen backing Wednesday after the October natural gas contract rose 3.3 cents amid general strength in Nymex’s energy futures complex (see related story).

Northern Natural Gas’ demarc and Ventura points both were up about a nickel despite a System Underrun Limitation going into effect Tuesday (see Daily GPI, Sept. 21). And a high-inventory OFO by PG&E (see Transportation Notes) had differing impacts; Malin fell about a dime, but the PG&E citygate increased by nearly a dime.

Neither a modest warming trend in the Northeast nor temperatures a little above seasonal levels in the Pacific Northwest were believed to be generating significant cooling load. Wednesday highs were expected to be limited to the mid 80s or less in most of North America, and even most of Texas had cooled off into the 80s.

“I don’t know where they’re coming from,” said a Gulf Coast trader referring to the cash market’s continuing firmness. About the only heating load she could detect was is in the Rockies, and that’s a relatively sparsely populated region, she said. She also was mystified by “a lot of folks looking for intraday gas” Tuesday, since autumn was officially beginning that day and most weather conditions reflected the change of seasons, she said.

Henry Hub cash is still substantially below October futures, the trader noted, so she had the suspicion that maybe people were buying spot gas in an attempt to finish filling storage early.

Normally the trader would be close to finishing next-month business by now, but she said her company’s producer clients were a little slow again on getting in their bidweek orders.

A utility buyer in the South said his purchase at $3.34 into Trunkline-East Louisiana was up slightly less than a nickel from Monday. He was starting to sort through responses to his company’s request for proposals on winter term (November-February in this case) deals. Bidweek will be a nonevent for his utility, the buyer said, because it won’t need any baseload gas due to having plenty of storage laid away and summer term purchases entering their last month.

A Midcontinent source said daily cash numbers have been looking fairly strong in his region lately, but “unfortunately for us producers” it’s looking like Midcontinent indexes will be less than $3 again for October.

Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates is projecting a storage build of 68 Bcf for the week ending Sept. 18, down slightly from an earlier estimate of 70 Bcf. Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evan said he expects a significantly higher injection of 78 Bcf to be reported Thursday, followed by additions of 70 Bcf and 75 Bcf in the weeks ending Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, respectively.

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