Nobody is proclaiming winter as “over” yet, but the worst is past as far as many are concerned. The downhill slope for Northeast citygates grew even steeper Friday, and most other points joined them with more mundane losses. Several scattered points ran against the overall market grain by being flat to about a dime higher.

A majority of the losses were fairly small in ranging from 2-3 cents to about a dime. However, with it appearing that Florida Gas Transmission was about to end an Overage Alert Day (see Transportation Notes), the Florida citygate joined Northeast citygate in recording triple-digit plunges that ran about as high as $5.80 at Transco Zone 6-New York, where the day’s top quote of $9.50 also occurred.

Although not everyone will be taking Monday off, Friday’s trading was done for flows through Tuesday because of observance of Martin Luther King Day.

Friday’s cash market was depressed somewhat by futures weakness a day earlier, and also by the usual industrial load loss on a holiday weekend. However, Tuesday numbers will have screen support after Nymex’s February contract rebounded by 7.3 cents (see related story).

Rockies producers got some good news when it was announced that Bison Pipeline had begun partial service Friday with a 200 MMcf/d delivery of Rockies gas to Northern Border Pipeline for redelivery into the Midcontinent/Midwest market. Eventually Bison will be able to move 477 MMcf/d with expandability capability to 1 Bcf/d.

It may take a while, but thaws are getting under way in the South and along the East Coast. One sign of easing conditions in the South was Southern ending a Type 6 OFO.

With Northern Natural Gas initiating a four-day stretch of System Overrun Limitations in all market zones Saturday, IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) found Northern-Ventura slipping a little less than a nickel Friday, but volumes for the long weekend on ICE’s online trading platform nearly doubling from 218,000 MMBtu to 416,500 MMBtu for the long weekend.

Meanwhile, an essentially flat Houston Ship Channel had ICE activity fall from 117,900 MMBtu to 77,000 MMBtu.

As a signal of how much Rockies weather has moderated since some sections began the week around zero, the Kern River bulletin board projected a relatively balmy mid-winter high of 60 Sunday for Denver and the area staying at least a few degrees above the freezing level.

However, Westcoast Station 2 saw Friday’s biggest, albeit still rather puny, gain of about C10 cents as the pipeline reported low linepack in all three segments. “The system is heavily drafted,” Westcoast said. “Drafted shippers must correct their accounts. Packed shippers are asked to slow down corrections or stay flat to prevent further drafting the system linepack.”

A Midwest utility buyer acknowledged that his region was among the few still seeing very high throughput revenues because heating load was starting to grow again instead of receding as in other areas. “When a lot of snow gets on the ground, it’s hard to get rid of it,” especially when temperatures are staying well below freezing, he commented.

But what some people don’t understand, the buyer continued, is that an area may have real temperatures close to zero, but if there’s bright sunshine and no wind, you get the opposite of a “wind chill” effect; that is, the body feels a little warmer than what the thermometer actually says.

He said temperatures are expected to remain below normal in much of the Midwest through at least Saturday of the coming weekend.

©Copyright 2011Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.