Natural gas prices fall to low
NEW YORK — Natural gas prices tumbled to a 10-year low Thursday after a surprising jump in U.S. supplies.
The futures price dropped sharply in New York after the government reported that natural gas inventories expanded well beyond what analysts expected. The country's total supply grew by 57 billion cubic feet last week to a level that's now 59 percent above the five-year average.
There's enough gas in storage to supply all the country's needs for more than a month, and analysts say storage facilities across the U.S. will be pushed close to capacity in coming months.
“We'll be testing the top,” energy analyst Steve Smith said.
The U.S has enjoyed a bounty of natural gas for the past few years thanks to advances in well drilling that have allowed energy companies to tap vast, petroleum-soaked layers of shale rock. The boom in production wasn't as noticeable at first, Smith said.
“All of a sudden, after a mild winter, the glut has been visible for all to see,” Smith said.
Natural gas futures plunged by 13 cents, or 5.7 percent, to finish at $2.15 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Oil prices also fell Thursday on reports that the U.S. and Europe are considering a release of emergency supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $2.63, or 2.5 percent, to end at $102.78 per barrel in New York. Brent crude lost $1.77 to finish at $122.39 per barrel in London.
Meanwhile the price of retail gasoline rose by a penny to a national average of $3.92 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.