Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fort Worth Natural Gas Revenue Down

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 News) ― The slumping economy is taking a toll on one of North Texas' key economic engines -- natural gas production.

Low natural gas prices are slowing the boom and fueling worries about how low the market will go.

Natural gas closed at $6.76 Tuesday (click here to check prices). That's down from this year's high of $13.61 in July.

The price is down partly because demand for natural gas has fallen. And demand is not expected to increase until colder temperatures get here.

Because the price has dropped, companies like Chesapeake Energy are cutting back on their drilling in the Barnett Shale.

The City of Fort Worth held a meeting today to discuss the environmental impact of gas drilling. But people who attended the meeting were also concerned about the economic environment of the industry and its impact on North Texas.

Kimberly Clark is a Fort Worth homeowner who was there. "Maybe it is a chance that they can talk and discuss things so that it works for everyone," she said. "I think whatever they do it has to be balanced."

"I think we're in an unstable situation nationally," said Chesapeake representative Kenneth Barr. "Certainly the price of gas is down and that has an impact on all the companies here in the Barnett Shale area."

For Chesapeake, it's meant cancelling a planned internet news broadcast, pulling back from a drilling site on TCU property and plummeting stock values.
Some predictions are drilling will slow and some wells will be capped until market prices go up.

The concern at today's meeting was the trickle-down effect. The City of Fort Worth makes millions from natural gas revenues. But, knowing markets are volatile, city planners made sure their gas money was not used to fund critical items like salaries.

"You don't want to use any of those dollars in our endowment on operations," said Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief. "Only for single-time purchases. And this is the very reason we put that policy in place."

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