December 30, 2004

DNR Reports Price For Heating Fuels Down Slightly

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, DEC. 23, 2004 ó Despite recent cold weather, the price sfor natural gas and propane for space heat are slightly lower than a month ago, according to a survey released today by the Missouri Department of Natural Resourcesí Energy Center.

U.S. natural gas supplies were estimated at 3,150 billion cubic feet (Bcf) as of Friday, December 10. U.S. supplies are currently 14.3 percent higher compared to the 5-year average. Natural gas futures price at the NYMEX closed at $6.82 per MMBtu on December 22 compared to $7.28 a month ago and $6.75 at this time last year, the Energy Center reported in its December 23 edition of the Missouri Energy Bulletin.

U.S. propane supplies are 3.76 million barrels higher compared to last year at 58.8 million barrels. Missouriís average retail price for propane fell $0.03 per gallon during the last month to $1.53 per gallon on December 20. However, prices were $1.23 at this time last year, an increase of 25 percent.

The Missouri retail price for regular gasoline decreased 17 cents per gallon from last month, standing at $1.60 per gallon as of December 20 but continues to be over 20 percent higher than this time last year. The average retail price paid for regular unleaded gasoline in the United States was $1.82 per gallon.

Retail gasoline prices are falling throughout the United States due to strong gasoline production and imports, stronger supplies of gasoline in storage, which stand nearly 8.4 million barrels higher compared to last year, and a decrease in consumer demand for motor gasoline throughout the last month.

The agencyís bimonthly fuels survey polled a selection of service stations throughout the state on the price of regular unleaded gasoline, diesel fuel, B-20 biodiesel fuel and E-85 ethanol. U.S. gasoline inventories increased for the week ending December 17 and are reported at approximately 211.4 million barrels, an increase of 1.8 million barrels from the previous week. Gasoline supplies are well within the 5-year average for this time of year.

Since November 4th, U.S. crude oil prices have dropped at the NYMEX, settling below $50 per barrel and nearing $40 on December 10, the lowest price since July 21. NYMEX crude oil prices set an all-time record high price on October 25 at $55.67 per barrel. On December 22, crude oil closed at $44.24 per barrel.

For the week ending December 17, U.S. commercial crude oil stocks were up 2.1 million barrels from the previous week and up 21.4 million barrels compared to this time last year. With total U.S. crude oil inventories at 295.9 million barrels, crude oil continues to trend well within the 5-year supply band for this time of year, according to the bulletin.

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