With strong ancillary support from a half dollar-plus spike in futures the day before, cash prices found heating load remaining strong enough Tuesday to record increases at virtually all points. A new record-setting screen gain of a little more than half a dollar Tuesday and little let-up in wintry weather due across most of the U.S. and Canada make it likely that physical market gains will continue Wednesday.

Tuesday’s increases ran as low as less than a nickel, but the rest were considerably larger in double digits, ranging from about 15 cents to a little more than 80 cents.

Although so far this week only the Northeast is seeing conditions as bad or worse than what it experienced last week, snow and cold are still extensive and fairly severe across the Midwest and upper West. And despite some early-week warming along the southern tier of states, highs in the 30s are expected to return Wednesday in eastern sections of the Southeast from the southern edge of the Appalachians through Georgia. Wednesday’s highs in the Rockies will be in the teens, The Weather Channel said.

Opal trading was picking up to near-normal levels again as NGI received more than a dozen Opal quotes. Williams Field Services, operator of the Opal Plant in Wyoming, said it had restored the nominations service on its GasKit system (see Transportation Notes).

It was a “balmy” two degrees above zero Tuesday morning, “but I went running anyway,” said a Northeast utility buyer. His company is “pulling pretty hard” on its base storage accounts, but leaving peaking storage service alone for now, he said. It looks like quite a few others are in the same situation, he added, since everybody expecting a pretty stiff storage pull to be reported for last week, with another big one accumulating this week.

The buyer said he is still finding delivered gas cheaper from Canada “in most cases” than from the Gulf Coast. Texas supply is more competitively priced than that in Louisiana, often costing $1.50-2.00 or so less into the pipe in the Lone Star State. One problem, he said, is that Tennessee still restricting volumes at Station 25 in Cleveland, TX (see Daily GPI, Dec. 1).

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast for the Dec. 19-23 workweek looks quite similar to the one for this week, with a distinct trend divide along an east-west basis. NWS looks for below normal temperatures everywhere except in southern Florida east of a line running south along the eastern edges of the Dakotas before descending southwestward through eastern Nebraska, central Kansas and western Oklahoma into the Texas Panhandle and West Texas. It predicted above normal readings everywhere west of a line running from western Montana through the central Rockies before bisecting Arizona diagonally from northeast to southwest.

BENTEK Energy said it projects a storage withdrawal of 191 Bcf to be reported for the week ending Dec. 9, which would decrease working gas levels to 2,975 Bcf. BENTEK said its estimate does not include data from Tennessee Gas Pipeline in the Eastern region, whose data typically is not available until late in the day each Tuesday. But the “impact of this data is expected to be minimal,” the consulting firm said.

In his final estimation, Kyle Cooper of Citigroup said he is looking for a draw of 168-178 Bcf.

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