Buoyed by two previous days of substantial screen strength and also by forecasts of hotter weather returning to northern and western market areas by the time the current workweek has begun, weekend prices moved higher at a large majority of points Friday. Nearly all of the declines — mostly small but reaching a quarter in one case — occurred in the West, but the region also recorded several sizeable advances.

With a few flat points in the mix, most of the market saw gains ranging from a couple of pennies to around 40 cents. Most of the larger ones were concentrated in the Gulf Coast and at Northeast and Midwest citygates.

One source suggested that in addition to the above influences, the below-expectations storage build reported for the previous week may have contributed a bit to the overall bullish mood by indicating that surplus inventory levels may be vulnerable to summer heat periods.

The Midwest and Northeast, which had been in cooldown periods since midweek, were expected to see mercury levels start rising around Sunday, restoring some power generation load. Much of the West, which has been unusually cool recently, was due to start experiencing temperatures five to 10 degrees above average over the weekend. Of course, hot-weather demand never really went away in the South and is due to continue.

Usually high-linepack OFOs tend to depress prices on the issuing pipeline. But although PG&E extended such an OFO through at least Saturday, quotes for Malin and the PG&E citygate got even stronger Friday with upticks of about 8 cents and a dime respectively. The Southern California border into PG&E’s saw an even bigger gain of about 15 cents. In fact, border quotes into SoCalGas, which did not issue an OFO, were the California market’s only loser with a drop of nearly a nickel.

Western traders greeted the scheduled end Saturday of a total outage of El Paso’s San Juan Crossover by bidding up San Juan Basin supplies by nearly 30 cents in both the Blanco and Bondad pools. This happened despite supply constraints caused by the outage also coming to an end.

Sumas numbers were barely higher Friday, but could be in store for a considerable bump up Monday with Westcoast’s McMahon Plant scheduled to go to zero throughput for three weeks starting Tuesday. In the days prior to a partial outage that began Thursday, McMahon had been processing more than 500 MMcf/d.

Natural gas futures extended their rising streak Friday with an advance of 7.7 cents. Most of the hoopla at Nymex, however, was over in the oil trading pits, where crude for July delivery settled at an all-time high of $58.47/bbl, up $1.89. That not only topped the previous settlement high of $57.27 on April 1 but also the previous intraday record of $58.28 on April 4.

The Northeast will be getting hotter again by Monday, a regional marketer said, but it won’t be as bad as early last week. He reported seeing a little interest in Monday-only deals as a result, but said he didn’t do any. With the pipelines running wide open and only a moderate warmup due, he said he didn’t see any need to pay a premium for Monday-only gas in such an environment. Basis spreads from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast had shrunk Friday to about half of what they were at the beginning of the week, he noted.

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