Getting support from weather that would continue baking most of the U.S. through the weekend, Thursday’s 15.5-cent push higher by expiring August futures and a lessening of the storage bearishness that has pervaded the market in recent months, cash prices continued to rise at a majority of points Friday.

Several flat to nearly 20 cents lower points, mostly in the West and Midcontinent, averted a clean sweep of firmness. Otherwise, upticks ranged from a little less than a nickel to 40 cents or so.

Much of the West was backing down from the intense heat that had plagued the region through midweek. Even Phoenix was peaking at a little less than 100 degrees for a change Thursday and Friday and was expected to fall just short of the century mark again Saturday. It would be feeling downright coolish in the western end of the Pacific Northwest with highs in the 60s and 70s due over the weekend.

Inland California also was cooling off a little. The Sacramento forecast was for around 90 degrees Saturday after the state capital had begun the week near the end of a string of 100-plus days. Fresno was predicted to see a high of “only” 102, but that was down 10 degrees from Thursday’s high of 112.

But weekend power generation load stayed strong throughout most of the market. Bismarck, ND, Helena, MT, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City were among other locales expected to hit 100 or above Saturday.

The net storage withdrawal reported for the previous week has at least for the time being taken some of the edge off trader apprehensions about storage filling up earlier than usual and leaving a large amount of gas stranded with no place to call home approaching the end of injection season. Forecasts of a hot August, with the industry just starting to enter the peak of hurricane season, may keep such fears assuaged for at least another month, one source suggested.

A utility buyer in the Lower Midwest said his company is expecting “another hot month,” but the effect wouldn’t be that great because there’s not a lot of power generation load behind its system. He lamented that he still had to pay very high prices for August baseload, though. The buyer jokingly commented that after Thursday’s storage report, “we kind of wondered if maybe we’re the only ones still injecting into storage.”

“Everybody is pulling hard on power,” said a western utility buyer, but things were running smoothly on the regional electric grids. Given the nature of the previous week’s heat wave, he didn’t think anyone should have been surprised by the net storage draw.

“It’s pretty miserable here,” said a Chicago-based industrial end-user who buys gas for plants around the nation. It was a fairly routine bidweek, he said, but the widespread heat appeared to be making Gulf Coast prices stronger as the week went on.

The storage pull was understandable, he continued. There’s not much injection space left, he said, and some people undoubtedly must be thinking, “Why not sell [storage] into this price strength?” For now everybody is keeping an eye on a tropical wave making its way across the Atlantic from off West Africa near the Cape Verde islands, the end-user said. It seemed to have the best potential for development among several tropical waves heading for the Americas, he said.

Going by the screen, which usually indicates the direction and approximate size of monthly index movement, August indexes are likely to be up about a dollar or more in most cases. The August futures expiry at $7.042 was $1.155 above July’s $5.887 settlement.

Last week ended with 1,408 rigs drilling for gas in the U.S., according to the Baker Hughes rotary rig count ( That was up 27 from the previous week and 15% higher than a year ago, Baker Hughes said.

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