Sunday, September 6, 2009

Natural Gas Price Drop Last Week - Louisiana Spot was $2.06/mmBtu

By CHRIS KAHN (AP) – 2 days ago

NEW YORK — Natural gas prices tumbled again Thursday, hitting new seven-year lows after the government reported more supplies were put into storage as the entire country pares down on energy usage.

That will mean huge savings for a lot of people this winter when the heating bill arrives.

On Monday, Spokane, Wash.-based utility Avista Corp. said it wants to reduce natural gas prices for its Oregon customers to the lowest levels in five years. And in the Midwest, Alliant Energy Corp. and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. both predicted heating bills would drop around 20 percent.

"Any savings we get, they get," Alliant spokesman Scott Drzycimski said.

Natural gas for October delivery gave up 19 cents to $2.525 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices dropped as low as $2.50 per 1,000 cubic feet — the lowest since March 2002 — after the government reported that U.S. natural gas supplies grew again last week and are now nearly 18 percent above the five-year average.

Natural gas, a key energy source for power plants, has plummeted to less than a third the price it fetched last summer, and its contract on the Nymex gave up nearly 23 percent in the past six trading days.

The United States Natural Gas fund, an exchange-traded fund that tracks natural gas prices, has fallen steadily this year, giving up 76 percent of its value and it hit a 52-week low of $8.94 a share on Thursday.

Meanwhile, oil prices were tugged higher by a rise in equities markets and a weak dollar.

Benchmark crude for October delivery added 12 cents to $68.17 a barrel on the Nymex. In London, Brent crude gave up 30 cents at $67.36 on the ICE Futures exchange.

Besides the weak dollar, energy prices may have gotten a boost from a report by the Institute for Supply Management. While the index showed that said the service sector shrank in August, hospitals, retailers, financial services companies and other industries covered by its index posted their best reading in 11 months.

For those who price oil and fuel into the future, there was a glimmer of increased demand for energy.

The Paris-based OECD, which said that the world economy is headed for an earlier recovery than previously forecast, although the pace of the rebound will likely remain modest for some time to come.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also said that the economies of Japan and the euro zone countries will contract by less than previously forecast while the outlook for the U.S. is stable.

At the pump, retail gas prices fell less than a penny to $2.596 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded is 3.5 cents more expensive than a month ago and $1.085 cheaper than last year.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for October delivery added less than a penny to $1.8088 a gallon and heating oil fell by less than a penny to $1.7414 a gallon.

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