Despite snow in Calgary and modest disruptions of Gulf of Mexicosupplies by Tropical Storm Helene, nearly all points softened a bitThursday, with most of the declines less than a dime. Californianumbers took the biggest hits of more than 20 cents, while tradersof Canadian gas at Aeco, Sumas and Stanfield saw flat to slightlyhigher pricing.

Helene looked poised to come ashore sometime late last night orearly this morning in the western Florida Panhandle, according tothe National Weather Service. Although the storm was not quite athurricane strength, a hurricane watch was in effect from theFlorida-Alabama border eastward to the mouth of Florida’s AucillaRiver. A tropical storm warning prevailed from the mouth of thePearl River at the Louisiana-Mississippi border to the AucillaRiver.

A spot check of Gulf Coast pipelines found none experiencingsignificant production drops. “Of course, our Gas Control guy saidthat could change at any time,” noted a Texas Eastern spokeswoman.Columbia Gulf said the only shortfall it was seeing was 8 MMcf/dthat had been shut in early this week during Hurricane Gordon andnot been restored.

The South Pass 6, South Pass 52 and Mississippi Canyon 148platforms were shut in on Tennessee’s system and Sonat had theSouth Paso 60 and Viosca Knoll 989 platforms shut in. However,volume losses were minor and neither pipe was experiencing anyproblem, said an El Paso Energy spokesman. “They had plenty ofstorage and linepack to draw on,” he said.

A Chevron spokesman said the producer evacuated “about 110non-essential personnel, mostly on the eastern side of ouroperations in the Gulf. We’ve still have 1,440 people out there.The storm has not affected any of our production operations.”

A Houston-based marketer said BP Amoco, Murphy and Marathon hadalso reported evacuations of non-essential workers in the MobileBay and South Pass areas, “but that doesn’t necessarily meanthey’re shutting in; they may still have been able to keepproduction going.” BP Amoco was the only one of the three toconfirm shutting in eight platforms with total volume of about 65MMcf/d, he added.

One reason for the minor impact was that Helene’s center waseast of Mobile Bay and its “dirty side” was to the east of thecenter, so the most damaging portion was well away from Mobile Bayplatforms, the marketer continued. And without any major stormlosses for support, the cash market almost had to soften, he said.Gas futures fell only about 3 cents, but the crude oil contract forNovember slid more than a dollar, he pointed out. “And outside ofheat in the Southwest and chilly low temperatures in the 30s in theUpper Plains, the U.S. just doesn’t have much weather load anywhereelse,” the marketer concluded.

Southern California border quotes dropped about 40 cents, takingthem below the PG&E citygate for the first time since lateJune. “It’s hard to figure out why the border is crashing so muchthis week. Everybody seems to be baffled,” said one western trader.Even though California electrical emergencies have faded away,border demand hasn’t fallen off all that much, she added.PG&E’s high-linepack OFO (see Transportation Notes) would helpexplain the citygate and Malin weakness, but there was nocorresponding OFO by SoCal Gas, she said.

The recent huge gap between Sumas and domestic prices intoNorthwest kept widening to about 90 cents Thursday. Although somesources have cited constraints at Kemmerer (WY) Station hinderingdomestic gas from going north, a marketer thinks the constraintsare artificially created by the pipeline “playing games.” It’scutting other points where there are no constraints in order toforce non-pipeline shippers to cut at Kemmerer, he explained. Thereason is that Northwest has to have a certain amount of gas inJackson Prairie storage in Washington before the start ofwithdrawal season, and it’s bringing that gas up from Clay Basin inUtah, so it has to make sure it has room for its own gas north ofKemmerer, he said.

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