Flatness again dominated Tuesday in the majority of cashmarkets. However, Northeast citygates dropped by about a nickeldespite heavy, wet snow or cold windswept rain in the region thatone weather forecast service expected to persist overnight.

To the West, snow was blanketing most of the Rocky Mountainstates but was having a much more bracing effect on gas prices.Rockies pipes were up 2-4 cents to the $1.90 area, said a marketerwho wished she could finish trading early and get home before thesnow built up higher, “but I know that’s kind of hard to do duringbidweek.”

One trader said contrary to the rumor of an unplanned outageMonday on Oasis (see Daily GPI, Feb. 24), it was actually a one-dayplanned pigging operation that took about 100 MMcf/d off themarket.

Southern California Gas reported scattered system problems,including a few minor pipe breaks, resulting from the flooding andmudslides in its region over the past few days. However, there wasno disruption of service, a spokeswoman said.

Fixed-price business for March was starting to pick up Tuesdaybut remained on the slow side. A Midcontinent marketer sensed thatsellers were gaining the early upper hand, saying it looks as ifthe bids “are coming out with a greater sense of urgency than theasks.” That sounded right to a Rockies buyer who said his onlylegitimate CIG offer Tuesday was in the low $1.90s, which shockedhim since he had been expecting March Rockies prices in the $1.70sor $1.80s. A marketer in the area concurred that the price soundedhigh since she was hearing CIG around $1.83-84.

There was no denying that March prices were tending to creephigher in several markets. Chicago basis has strengthened to plus5.5, one source said, while another reported Houston Ship Channelbasis tightening to minus 1.5-2. The $2.10 level looms large forMidcontinent pipes, said a marketer who doesn’t expect prices thereto stray very far to either side of $2.10. Another marketerreported fixed-price deals in the high $2.20s at the SouthernCalifornia border and in the high $1.90s into El Paso in both thePermian Basin and San Juan-Blanco pool.

A marketer thinks it will be interesting to see how people”play” March. “Our feeling is that with Houston Energy Expoupcoming and seeing how many got burned in February,” the tendencywill be to go into March long on supplies, he said.

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