Other than highs starting to reach the 90-degree area again Wednesday in the Northeast and more modest warm-ups predicted in the Pacific Northwest, the market couldn’t count on much more cooling load than it had before Tuesday. Yet it found enough, coupled with screen support from the previous day’s 11.9-cent rebound by September futures, to achieve substantive gains at a majority of points Tuesday.

Most of the market was a nickel to about 20 cents higher Tuesday. A flat intrastate OGT failed to join the overall increases despite highs expected to remain in the low to mid 90s Wednesday in Oklahoma.

September futures returned to their former losing ways in the first day of the three-day settlement period, falling 4.1 cents, but at least one broker thinks “major” support is impending (see related story).

Neither of the latest Atlantic tropical developments appeared to hold any significance for the gas market. At first glance the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) projection Tuesday that a tropical wave about 325 miles north-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico had a “high chance” (greater than 50%) of becoming a tropical depression or even Tropical Storm Danny within the next 48 hours might have been a bullish market influence. But forecasters and analysts agreed that the system was likely to be a copycat of Hurricane Bill in threatening the Bahamas and Bermuda but remaining a respectable distance out in the Atlantic from the East Coast, thus prolonging the lack of storm threat to Gulf of Mexico production into the fourth month of this year’s hurricane season.

A broad area of low pressure over the southwestern Caribbean Sea Tuesday morning had moved inland over Central America, NHC said, and was expected to keep moving westward into the eastern Pacific Ocean.

No date has been determined yet for a restart of production at the Sable Offshore Energy Project (SOEP) off Nova Scotia, said Merle MacIsaac, spokesman for SOEP operator ExxonMobil Canada. The facility, which had been producing its usual 400 MMcf/d or so, went offline for planned maintenance Aug. 8, MacIsaac said, and then was evacuated late last week as Hurricane Bill approached (see Daily GPI, Aug. 24), which may have caused a bit of extra delay in the return from the maintenance outage. SOEP is nearly fully manned again, he said, and so far no damage to Sable facilities from Hurricane Bill has been discovered.

While SOEP remains offline, Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&N) said its available receipt points are the interconnects with Corridor Resources in the Canadian portion of M&N and with Portland Natural Gas Transmission System and Emera Brunswick Pipeline in M&N’s U.S. segment.

Although cutbacks in drilling rig activity so far have yielded relatively small reductions in gas output, Newfield Exploration said it will contribute to production cutbacks with a voluntary curtailment of about 2.5 Bcfe in the third quarter (see related story).

Although slightly warmer conditions are due Wednesday in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, the Midwest will be retreating to moderate highs on either side of 80 for the most part. Southern peaks will remain no more than moderate for late August on either side of 90 for a while longer, and as usual major cooling load will be relatively scarce in the West outside the desert Southwest and parts of interior California.

Tuesday’s cash firmness was due largely to prior-day futures support, a Midwest marketer said, but the market got a little extra support from rising heat in the Northeast. However, weather fundamentals in his region were staying fairly mild, with few locations due to get above the low 80s, he added. He expects “a little bit of softening” in the daily market Wednesday.

Bidweek was starting fairly slowly, the marketer continued. He was seeing Chicago’s Nicor citygate trading at index flat Tuesday, but little else was developing at that point. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. deliveries into the Chicago area were slightly softer at index minus 0.5-0.25 cent; but only small volumes traded Tuesday, he said.

Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said he is projecting a storage build of 56 Bcf.being reported for the week ending Aug. 21, which he said was up from a previous estimate of 51 Bcf. Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans is looking for a similar net injection of 57 Bcf to be reported Thursday, followed by additions of 67 Bcf and 72 Bcf in the weeks ending Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, respectively.

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