The early May aftermarket is shaping up as typical of itspredecessors in the new millennium: showing remarkable strengthdespite a general lack of fundamental support. Only in the West,where a combination of hot weather and nuclear outages sent powerprices spiking, did sources see anything besides a sharp rise onthe futures screen to account for Monday’s cash upticks.

Although accomplished in what several sources characterized asvery quiet trading, the increases left nearly all points aboveindex, as much as a dime higher in the case of the SouthernCalifornia border.

Much of the Southwest is enduring a heat wave, one traderreported, and not only is the Palo Verde nuclear unit that has beenrefueling just beginning the process of ramping back up, but aDiablo Canyon unit went down for some reason that he didn’t know.The result was spot power prices that shot as high as $125/MWh, hesaid. Border quotes also soared both in response to the powerpricing but also because people who had been limited on bordervolumes by SoCal Gas’ weekend OFO were buying more gas to get backin balance, the trader said.

El Paso-Permian numbers also were firming late as a result ofthe western demand, other sources said.

Chicago citygates maintained a constant premium to Henry Hub ofabout a nickel as the morning went on, a large marketer said.Activity in the Chicago market was relatively scant, said anothertrader, adding, ” It seems like almost everyone there either didbaseload for May or has their gas termed up.” Without anyweather-related demand, either cooling or heating, the marketshould stay quiet until a predicted warmup brings high temperaturesin the 80s to the Midwest around Thursday, he said.

Intra-Alberta numbers started in the low C$3.80s, about a dimeunder index, but climbed throughout the day to reach their bidweekhigh of C$3.96 in the afternoon, one trader reported.

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