Spikes at Northeast citygates Tuesday didn’t get much company elsewhere in the firming category. Most points declined as moderating weather trends in the western half of the South, Midcontinent and Midwest limited overall heating load. The previous Friday’s 4.2-cent drop by February futures was another mildly negative factor for the cash market.

A large majority of points were down from as little as 2-3 cents to nearly 65 cents. Several points, mostly in the West, joined delivered Northeast quotes in ranging from flat to a little more than $2.70 higher.

The physical market will again have negative prior-day futures guidance Wednesday after the November contract shed another 15.9 cents Tuesday (see related story).

It was difficult to detect a definitive weather trend in the Northeast as highs in Boston, New York and Philadelphia are forecast to get lower Wednesday but lows will get higher. But the Midwest will be getting warmer Wednesday before a cold front drops out of Canada Thursday to bring frigid conditions back to the upper sections of the region.

In contrast to the relatively mild temperatures in the western end of the South, eastern sections were getting snow in North Carolina while hard freeze warnings extended from southern Alabama through southern Georgia and northern Florida, The Weather Channel said. Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) reacted to the forecast for its Florida market area by reinstating an Overage Alert Day (see Transportation Notes). The Florida citygate recorded the biggest gain besides Northeast citygates, but FGT Zones 1, 2 and 3 in the production area were softer.

Seasonal to cool temperatures will dominate the western climate Wednesday.

El Paso prices saw only modest declines despite the pipeline reporting high linepack systemwide, citing “milder weather in the southwest Arizona service area has resulted in lower loads with actual takes below scheduled quantities and some receipt points in the supply basins in excess of scheduled deliveries.”

It was a good day to be in the utility gas buying business, said a buyer in the South. The area was experiencing “good cold weather,” so company throughput was strong. And the fact that Gulf Coast prices were lower didn’t hurt, either, he added. It won’t last, though, he said, as the area should be getting back to normal temperatures around the end of the week.

The rapid rate of decline in the number of drilling rigs exploring for natural gas in the U.S. during recent weeks slowed greatly in the week ending Jan. 16, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count (https://intelligencepress.com/features/bakerhughes/). Its latest tally of 1,235 rigs active in the gas search was down by only four from the previous week. One rig in the Gulf of Mexico and three onshore were deactivated, Baker Hughes said. The count is down 10% from a month earlier and 12% from the year-ago level.

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