Moderate softness continued to dominate most of the April swing market on its penultimate day of trading Monday. Cold fronts expected in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest, along with thunderstorms and mountain snows in the Northwest, failed to provide the support needed to avert further price falls at most points.

Dips of about a nickel to a little more than 15 cents were recorded for the majority of the market. Nearly all of the significant deviations were in the West, where plunges ranging from a quarter to about 80 cents in the Rockies were arrayed against a San Juan Basin decline of a little more than a dime and flat to slightly lower numbers in the rest of the region.

An expiration-day dive of a little more than 35 cents on the May natural gas screen was essentially echoed by plunges in the crude oil and heating oil contracts for June. Most cash business was already on the books before the screen made its big move downward, leading sources to expect prices for the last day of April to get hammered Tuesday. “The [futures] market didn’t fall until later in the day, so tomorrow [Tuesday cash numbers] will come out low,” a marketer commented. “I’ve been saying this for a while now: $5 is the floor for the summer; and right now we are getting fairly close to that floor.”

Maintenance at the Jonah Field behind Opal Plant was scheduled to wind up Monday, putting what one western trader had estimated at 250 MMcf/d of supply back on the Rockies market for Tuesday flow. In addition, a blowout of the Northwest spread between Sumas and domestic Rockies gas to well over a dollar (they were slightly less than half a dollar apart Friday) was exacerbated by a 30 MMcf/d capacity cut at the pipeline’s Kemmerer Station northbound bottleneck (see Transportation Notes). The restriction will run through Friday at a point where south-to-north flows have been consistently overnominated.

The intrastate Texas market is starting to feel the heat (virtually all of the state registered highs in the 80s Monday), and the resultant air conditioning demand helped keep Permian/Waha prices from falling, a marketer said. The rest of the Gulf Coast is also warming up, but obviously that wasn’t enough to prevent softening at points in Louisiana and South and East Texas, she added.

May bidweek prices fell Monday in deference to the last-day dive in futures, a western source said, but “not quite as drastically as the screen did.” She thought that was largely due to lot of people already winding up May business before most of the futures decline occurred. “I’m still looking for some more baseload gas this [Monday] afternoon, but it’s not as easy to find as usual” because of so many traders finishing early.

A Florida utility buyer said it seems like the state is “getting hot enough by for us to need new gas, but so far that ‘s not the case.” So far most Florida buyers are apparently scraping by with little in the way of new supplies, she said.

Forecasting an injection of 40 Bcf in this week’s EIA report, analyst Thomas Driscoll of Lehman Brothers said, “We continue to believe that the market need to shed 2-3 [Bcf/d] of demand — to get storage to 3,000-3,200 Bcf by the end of October — will keep gas prices strong this summer.” Meanwhile, Citigroup’s Kyle Cooper said his final estimation for the report is “a build between 39 and 49 Bcf.”

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