Prices rose at every point but one Monday despite cooling trends in some areas and the previous Friday’s 17.3-cent drop by July futures. There were still some high heat levels, especially in the southern half of the West and parts of the South, and industrial load had returned from its typical weekend decline.

Only a flat Westcoast Station 2 was left out of the overall advance, largely because its primary market area in the Pacific Northwest is staying mild to cool. The lack of weather-based demand was also felt at Sumas, where a nickel increase made it the only other point failing to rise by at least double and sometimes triple digits. However, Sumas continued to trade at a $3-plus premium to Northwest-domestic.

All of Monday’s dollar-plus spikes occurred in the West, where high temperatures are reaching the 90s, 100s and 110s from Central Texas through the desert Southwest to Southern California. Overall gains ranged from about a nickel to a little more than $1.25 at the Southern California border and in El Paso’s San Juan Basin-Blanco pool.

One source suggested that rising storage injection purchases may have made up for at least part of the drop of cooling demand.

Dominion Transmission provided some indication that the storage refill process has been lagging, which may be spurring catch-up efforts. The pipeline reported Monday that as of June 12 the working gas inventory at its storage facilities stood at 131 Bcf. That compares with 169 Bcf on June 14, 2007 and 199 Bcf on June 15, 2006, Dominion said.

Prior-day screen support for the cash market returned as Nymex’s July natural gas contract posted a 30.8-cent increase despite slight weakness in crude oil futures (see related story).

Parts of the South remain hot enough to support running gas-fired peaking generation units, but other sections are cooling off with a cold front due to move into the region. Such locations as Little Rock, AR, and Memphis, TN, are forecast to see their high temperatures drop 10 degrees or so into the low 80s Tuesday. Thermometer levels also will be receding in the Midcontinent.

Much of the Midwest and Northeast will not get above the 70s Tuesday. That represents little change in the Midwest, but a cooldown for Northeast citygates.

The Rockies and Southwest markets, which had tended to see most of Friday’s largest losses, rebounded strongly Monday as sizzling temperatures pervade the lower West. Even Denver is slated to peak in the mid 80s Tuesday, according to Madison, WI-based Weather Central.

Intrastate Oklahoma demand was still strong even with lower temperatures predicted for Tuesday, said a producer in the region. It may be starting to cool off a bit in several areas, he said, but he thought a good deal of Monday’s buying was to pay off imbalances that developed during the weekend when temperatures were hotter than expected “and some people got caught short” on physical gas.

However, prices came off a bit at the end, which made the producer suspect that the cash market might soften a little Tuesday despite the strength of July futures Monday. Much of the buying to resolve imbalances will be ending and the overall decline of cooling load will be felt in the market, he said.

The number of drilling rigs searching for natural gas in the U.S. rose by 11 to 1,504 during the week ending June 13, according to the Baker Hughes Rotary Rig Count ( Its tally was up by three in the Gulf of Mexico and by eight onshore. Activity is up 2% from a month ago and 1% higher than the year-ago level, Baker Hughes said.

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