Slowly but surely the faux summer that much of the eastern U.S.has experienced recently is turning into “real summer,” a marketernoted. But even that and a moderate gain by the August Henry Hubfutures contract were not enough to avert softening at most cashtrading points Thursday. Eastern declines tended to be minuscule,with a few points staying flat and few others falling by more than1-2 cents. But an easing of Southwest supply constraints andgenerally cooler weather in the West caused larger price drops inthe West, topped by a loss of several cents in the San Juan Basin.

Increases of about 3 cents in Transco’s Zone 6 (both NYC andotherwise) provided about the only gains of more than a penny orso. That reflected another market anomaly, because the Midwestappeared to be heating up more quickly than the Northeast, yetMidwest citygates were flat to off a couple of cents.

Gulf Coast cash in general opened a bit firmer at $2.13, got upto $2.14, fell to $2.09 and then wound up around $2.11, autility-affiliated marketer said. In other words, he added, it kindof piddled around without going much of anywhere. Even with awarming trend, power generation load remained weak in the South,another trader said.

A Midcontinent source thought prices would fall more than theydid while the screen was at its low point of $2.11, but said they”hung in there” largely due to warmer weather.

Although a turbine unexpectedly remained down at El Paso’s WhiteRock (NM) Station, keeping a constraint of 200 MMcf/d in San JuanBasin (see Transportation Notes), most of the basin’s major supplycurtailment of more than 450 MMcf/d ended with completion ofmaintenance at El Paso Field Services’ Chaco Plant. The return ofthat much gas to market, along with moderating westerntemperatures, had a rippling negative effect on the Waha/Permianand California markets and on several Rockies pipes.

Following temperatures around 85 degrees earlier this week, itwas wet and near freezing in the Calgary vicinity Wednesday andThursday, one trader said. Such conditions may have generated amodicum of heating demand, but it didn’t keep intra-Alberta pricesfrom falling almost a nickel to around C$2.67-68, she added.

Widely anticipated repeats of weekend OFOs by the big CaliforniaLDCs are likely to keep western prices in a free-fall today,sources said. However, several thought the significantly hotterweather expected over the weekend in eastern markets could verywell cancel the usual low-demand effect on prices.

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