Chris Khan, NEW YORK — Natural gas prices tumbled again Thursday, dropping to 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 per cent as natural gas prices plunge.
“Any savings we get, they get,” Alliant spokesman Scott Drzycimski said.
Natural gas for October delivery gave up 18.6 cents to $2.529 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices dropped as low as $2.518 per 1,000 cubic feet — the lowest since March 2007 — after the government reported that U.S. natural gas supplies grew again last week and are now nearly 18 per cent 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 per cent in the past six days.
Meanwhile, oil prices were tugged higher by a rise in equities markets and a weak dollar.
Benchmark crude for October delivery added 20 cents to $68.25 a barrel on the Nymex. In London, Brent crude gave up 5 cents at $67.61 on the ICE Futures exchange.
Markets were also boosted by a new forecast from 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 organisation 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, while a “gloomier outlook” was seen for Britain.
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 lost less than a penny to $1.7996 a gallon and heating oil fell 17.5 cents to $2.540 a gallon.
Associated Press writers Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary and Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.
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