Cash prices for the last weekend of March appeared to be payingattention to weather fundamentals for a change Friday. Markets inthe West, where it was still cold enough to matter, tended to seegains of 2-5 cents. But east of the Rocky Mountains it was adifferent story as mild temperatures sent prices down by similaramounts.

Sonat took a big dive to as low as $2.10 in late trading due toan Operational Flow Order (see Transportation Notes) to guardagainst excessive receipts, a marketer said. The OFO essentiallyallowed buyers with Sonat transportation rights to name theirprice, he added.

Southern California border trading started slowly, but then tookoff like a rocket, said a marketer reporting deals as high as themid $2.40s. Not only was there significant utility buying due toWest Coast coolness, she said, but a weekend maintenance outage atthe Transwestern-Northwest interconnect in La Plata County, CO washolding back some Rockies gas that would have headed for theborder.

Despite the Northwest constraint, Rockies quotes were inchingback up into the low $1.90s amid cold weather forecasts. Andintra-Alberta numbers rose to the mid C$1.80s as a Calgary marketersaid it was expected to snow there “all weekend.”

Several sources had the impression that bidweek activity almostcame to a halt after the futures settlement. Although a marketersaid he thought about 80% of April business had been completed byFriday afternoon, others said there’s still a lot to be done todayand Tuesday. “Everybody’s going home early” and putting off theirremaining April trading until Monday, according to a Texas source.

Although Midcontinent pipes were still at $2.20-plus in themorning, a producer said, the futures drop carried them down intothe high $2.10s in the afternoon, just as a source had predicted(see Daily GPI, March 27).

Two sources agreed that $1.90-91 was the “cut and dried” pricelevel for Rockies pipes in April. $1.905 was “very popular,” onesaid.

One source thought it odd that for most of the March aftermarketPG&E citygates have been at a premium to Southern Californiaborder pricing, but are as much as a nickel lower in April bidweekdeals. Obviously the 50% take-or-pay rule on El Paso gives NGCincentive to keep the border market very tight, he said.

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