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Tag: natural gas


A small rate cut reflects a big trend in natural gas

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Washingtonians are in for some good news on their natural gas bills – just in time for cold weather.

On Thursday, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission cut the gas bills of roughly 2 million people. Puget Sound Energy’s customers, for example, will pay 7.1 percent less – slicing $6 dollars off an $85.50 monthly bill.

The reason: The wholesale price of natural gas has been falling. Although it has risen since last spring, when it hit a historical low, it is still very low. (Fine print: The unit price is the “therm.” A therm was running between $4.50 to $5 last fall; in April, it hit $1.60; it’s now around $3.10.)

A 7.1 percent drop is something short of a bonanza. The better news is that it’s part of a long-term trend that promises to curb natural gas prices for years.

Part of the same trend was Tuesday’s startling prediction by the Associated Press: America may soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer.

The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that the United States will produce a record 11.4 million gallons of hydrocarbons (including biofuels) a day in 2013. Saudi Arabia pumps 11.6 million barrels a day. One forecast has the United States hitting at least 13 million barrels by 2020.
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