Prices for the concluding weekend of February maintained thesoftening trend that had started earlier in the week, ranging fromflat to a little over a dime lower. And although swing gas tradedFriday for today’s flow only was flat at a few points, most sourcesagreed that the initial March aftermarket was trending downwardoverall from both bidweek indexes and weekend levels.

Points as diverse as San Juan Basin and Michigan citygates beganthe aftermarket at least a dime or more below where March baseloadwas averaging. It was easy to discern the cause of the priceweakness, traders said; many utilities and other end-users thatshunned baseload purchases for March are relying heavily on theirstorage supplies and likely will continue to do so for most or allof the month. And although Southern California border quotes wereonly marginally lower in the high $1.60s, mega-LDC SouthernCalifornia Gas helped drive San Juan numbers down to the mid $1.30sby being a big net seller in the basin, a marketer said.

Rocky Mountains pipes joined San Juan in the $1.30s as “lots ofpeople were calling to sell gas today [Friday],” a Rockies tradersaid.

Some Gulf Coast points tended to retain their price value inweekend deals better than other markets. A producer reported havingto pay $1.73 for a Sonat package because she was short on the pipe.And a marketer said his Saturday/Sunday-only and Monday only priceson ANR-Southeast were slightly above his bidweek numbers.

One source told Daily GPI the incremental March market may havelooked pretty weak Friday, “but who knows, things might bedifferent Monday.” His opinion was distinctly a minority one,though, as several others see little chance for a rebound. There’stoo much storage to be used up, a buyer said, adding, “We don’t seeany upside in the cash market.” She and another trader citedtechnical reasons for why the Henry Hub futures contract might berising today, but if that happens, “we will see a disconnectbetween cash and futures prices,” the buyer said. Because of theexcess storage gas, “cash won’t be able to follow the screen.”

For one marketer, the transport spreads to Chicago (field pricesplus pipeline carriage rates] “haven’t worked all month [February].We can only hope that they will work next month [March].”

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