Though still one of the most dangerous hurricanes to come downthe pike in many years, Mitch was unable to to sustain its positiveinfluence on cash prices Tuesday. Incremental quotes ranged fromslightly higher to as much as 7-8 cents lower, with the majority ofpoints registering downticks. A diving futures screen set theexample for cash to emulate, sources said.

Though physical gas failed to match the big slide in theNovember futures contract, the downward trend on many pipes astrading proceeded signifies that cash softness is likely tocontinue today, a producer said. His Carthage sales wound up in thelow $1.80s after starting at $1.88.

Intra-Alberta numbers were recovering from Monday’s headlongplunge of more than a dollar (Canadian). Sources explained the bigdrop as due not only to one-day maintenance at an Alberta NaturalGas compressor station backing up more than 300 MMcf/d into theprovince, but also to field receipts coming in higher than expectedand causing NOVA linepack to soar. The pipeline instituted a 0/-20%balancing tolerance after linepack hit 13.3 Bcf, about half a Bcfover its target, a Calgary trader said. “That means they [NOVA]won’t let you put a single molecule into the pipe that doesn’t havea home,” she added.

Tuesday’s intra-Alberta pricing for same-day flow started in thehigh C$1.30s and rose to the low C$1.70s, while afternoon deals forflow today got as high as C$1.95, a marketer reported. He wasconfident that trading today would be back on the plus side ofC$2.00.

Traders obviously were starting to discount the potential threatto Gulf production of Hurricane Mitch. Mitch, downgraded toCategory 4 status after having achieved the most powerful rankingof Category 5 on Monday, appeared poised to slam into Belize andMexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where it would lose much of itsstrength over land. That would afford Gulf producers some extrabreathing room, one trader said.

After beginning the week at levels above what was being donelast week, November bidweek prices were falling back along with thescreen. A buyer who had paid in the mid $2.30s at Malin Monday saidhis range was $2.18-25 Tuesday. A marketer heard general Rockiesnumbers in the low to mid $2.00s, compared to the $2.20 area thatwas reported Monday. Intra-Alberta deals ranged from the midC$2.50s to the low C$2.60s, and one source quoted the SouthernCalifornia border in the low $2.30s.

“At least it looks like the sellers are finally coming out oftheir cocoons and are ready to deal now,” said a marketer reportingan El Paso-Permian purchase at $2.00. But another trader didn’tthink buyers “are real motivated to do anything because they seeeverything coming their way.” He expects many buyers to wait awhile longer for better values. “The only thing that’s been bullishat all is basis tightening a little bit, but you’d expect that whenthe screen comes off [almost] 20 cents.”

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