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Published: Thursday, 3/8/2012

Natural-gas price dips to lowest level in 10 years


NEW YORK -- The price of natural gas dropped to the lowest level in a decade as a mild winter closes with a huge surplus of the fuel on hand.

Natural-gas supplies typically shrink in the winter as homes and business crank up the heat. But relatively warm weather, combined with a boom in production, has left storage facilities bloated with more gas than normal.

Natural-gas futures fell by 5.4 cents Wednesday to $2.302 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York. That's the lowest price since 2002, and down 69 cents from the start of the year.

Independent commodities trader Stephen Schork said that price could drop further in coming weeks, possibly below $2 per 1,000 cubic feet, if demand declines as usual between peak seasons for heating and air conditioning.

Supplies have grown in recent years as drillers use a controversial drilling technology called fracking to tap vast reserves of natural gas trapped in shale formations under several states. The production boom has pushed natural gas supplies near capacity in the United States.

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