The Christmas weekend market was a true hodgepodge of pricemovement. Friday’s changes ranged from more than $2 lower in theNorthern Natural Gas market area, despite a pipeline OFO still ineffect after nearly two weeks, to more than $2 higher in both ofTransco’s Zone 6 pools. Other points were arrayed at variouspositions in between, but most were flat to 20 cents down.

In most regions a softer screen and the normal slump in demandover a long holiday weekend outweighed still-frigid weather to sendprices lower, sources said. However, Northeast citygates had tocontend with transportation constraints from the Gulf Coast as wellas cold weather, resulting in substantial gains for delivered gas.

Trading was complicated by various flow periods resulting fromcompanies taking either Friday or Tuesday off as an extraChristmas-associated holiday. Some sources said they had done mostor all deals Thursday through Tuesday (or even Wednesday in a fewcases), while others traded Friday through either Tuesday orWednesday. A Calgary marketer said he traded everything throughWednesday because, like most of his neighbors, he would be takingTuesday off for Canada’s Boxing Day.

Chicago-area LDC Nicor had planned to be on holiday Friday, buthad to re-open its nominations window to allow people to balancetheir accounts because of the Critical Day declaration, a producersaid. The utility was buying new gas itself, he said.

Activity was predictably muted, as it often is going into a longweekend. There was definitely a widespread attitude of “let’s getit done quick and get out of here,” said one marketer. You couldtell some people were forced to move gas in the Southwest becausethey kept selling even when prices started falling, he said. Hiscompany bought El Paso-Permian as low as $10.15 late, but soldANR-Southwest, where the price trend was upward, as high as $11.50late. “That’s a huge spread between those two points,” he said.

The market saw mostly rising prices last week due to the badweather, but this week’s winter storms are expected to be evenworse, said a Midcontinent source. Also, wellhead freeze-offs havenot been much of an issue so far, he added, but appear certain tomake their presence felt much more emphatically this week. Thatcould make things “very interesting” for some traders as theyreturn to the office Tuesday, he said.

Few people were concentrating on bidweek business Friday in therush to clear out for the holiday. However, a Texas-based marketerreported a hefty index premium for the Chicago citygate, saying hewas trading Chicago for January at the GPI index plus 40-50 cents.

The Southern California border had a record-setting basisaverage of just over plus 651 for December, but that could beeclipsed for January, judging by the bid-ask basis spread of plus685-715 posted by EnronOnline as of noon Friday. Other heftypositive basis spreads listed by EOL included Malin at 553-603,Transco Zone 6 at 420-520, Texas Eastern M-3 at plus 220-270,Chicago at plus 85-95 and CNG at plus 84-94. The most negativeposting was for Northwest-domestic at minus 66-62.

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