Erie Times-News: Natural-gas prices fall 8.2 percent in Erie region

By JIM MARTIN

The abundance of gas found in the Marcellus Shale, much of it in Pennsylvania, has been a big factor in that decline, Taylor said.

Natural-gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale might have stirred controversy, but National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. said it’s also led to a larger supply and lower prices.

The utility, which serves 14 counties in northwestern Pennsylvania, announced Monday that it is passing along to customers an 8.2 percent decline in the price of natural gas.

An average customer on balanced billing — using 95,000 cubic feet of gas a year — would see his or her monthly bill fall from $92.51 to $84.92.

“This decrease is the direct result of a continuing decline in the market price of natural gas, largely due to the increased supply, particularly from the Marcellus Shale development,” Nancy Taylor, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The most striking evidence of the price decline can be found in comparing the current price of $9.56 per thousand cubic feet to the peak price of $19.71 that was announced Aug. 1, 2008.

The abundance of gas found in the Marcellus Shale, much of it in Pennsylvania, has been a big factor in that decline, Taylor said.

“I have seen studies that it has caused fuel bills for a typical residential bill to decline about 40 percent,” she said.

The shale, which has been called one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, is estimated to have recoverable reserves of 1,925 billion cubic feet of gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The new price, which takes effect today, will remain in place until Feb. 1, when the utility will once again have the opportunity to adjust prices.

Today’s price decrease leaves gas prices slightly higher than they were on this same date in 2010, when a price decrease lowered the average monthly bill from $91.74 to $82.92.

NFG, a division of Buffalo-based National Fuel Gas Co., serves about 214,000 customers in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Today’s price adjustment will affect most, but not all of them. Utility customers in Pennsylvania have a right to shop for an alternate natural-gas supplier.

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