Prices continued to drop Friday at all points, but the declines were quite a bit smaller than the ones that preceded them on Thursday. The softness was anticipated as cooling load remained relatively light outside the southern third of the U.S. and the screen had fallen in six straight trading sessions before eking out a small gain Friday.

Declines ranged from just a penny at Texas Eastern-East Texas to as much as 30 cents. The Gulf Coast recorded most of the dips of less than a dime, while western numbers tended to fall nearly 20 cents or more in most cases.

The temperature outlook for the weekend remained pretty much as it had been during the business week — moderate to cool in the northern U.S. and Canada, generally at seasonal levels across the southern U.S. The Atlantic Basin scene was still quiet. There were a lot of thunderstorms in the Gulf of Mexico Friday, but no storm development was expected, The Weather Channel said. It expected them to bring welcome rain to a parched South Texas.

A western marketer considered the futures market “kind of crazy” with all of its intraday volatility before settling for small losses through Thursday following Monday’s 35.6-cent dive. Most of the cash market looks pretty weak for the foreseeable future, he said, but points in the West might see a rally or two in the coming week because that’s where most of the above normal temperatures are forecast.

California-related points were tending to rise in late deals, the marketer continued. For instance, he traded Malin mostly from the mid $5.80s to $5.90, but then saw later quotes rise through the $5.90s to as high as $6.10 as California demand grew. The interior of the state isn’t as hot as it was a few weeks ago, but is getting pretty warm again, he said (Sacramento had a predicted high of 94 degrees for Saturday). Malin just started off lower than it should have, he said; it should have averaged around $5.95 from the get-go, but he expected the daily index to be more like $5.90 or less. He was not sure people were still replacing storage pulls that resulted from the Opal Plant’s outage in the previous week.

It looks like more and more monthly baseload deals are being tied to indexes, the marketer said. He reported having seen Sumas trading for September at index plus 3 cents.

A fuel buyer for a utility in the South noted that his company’s gas loads “are pretty light about this time of year.” The utility has no generation of its own, but instead buys power from the Tennessee Valley Authority for distribution. “We’ve been watching the TVA system for potential [power] alerts; they’ve put us on notice that we might have to curtail interruptible customers,” he said, adding that no alerts have been called. He said his company is “85-90% full on storage by now.” It tries to optimize its storage use, he added. “We’ll take a little out if the price is right or put a little in if the price is right.”

Baker Hughes said last week ended with 1,427 rigs drilling for gas in the United States, including the Gulf of Mexico ( That represented an increase of 18 rigs from the previous Friday and the number was up 3% from last month and up 17% from a year ago, the company said.

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