X-Message-Number: 21926
From: "Mark Plus" <>
Subject: US faces critical gas shortage 
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 2003 18:16:53 -0700


US faces critical gas shortage
By Sheila McNulty in Houston
Published: June 8 2003 20:13 | Last Updated: June 8 2003 20:13

Natural gas supplies in the US have reached critically low levels in recent 
months and may be inadequate to meet demand during a hot summer this year.

Spencer Abraham, the US energy secretary, has called an emergency meeting of 
the National Petroleum Council this month amid calls for the administration 
to deal urgently with the shortage.

Mr Abraham said the US had 696bn cubic feet of gas in storage at the end of 
March, the lowest since 1976 when record-keeping began. By the week of April 
11, levels had dropped to 623bn cubic feet.

"Storage has increased since that time, but it is still only half the level 
of a year ago, and 42 per cent below the previous five-year average," Mr 
Abraham said.

On Tuesday Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is to testify before the 
House energy and commerce committee on threats to the economy from the 

Prices are reported to have increased as much as 700 per cent over the past 
three years, provoking industries from steel to petrochemicals to call on 
the government to address what they call "the other energy crisis" because 
it is less well known than the domestic oil shortage.

"No company, no industry, no consumer can absorb a threefold increase in 
major raw material prices and continue to compete in the global 
marketplace," said Greg Lebedev, president of the American Chemistry 
Council, the largest industrial users of natural gas.

The problem arose after the US government encouraged natural gas as an 
environmentally friendly fuel but refused to open what Mr Abraham said were 
about 40 per cent of the potential gas resources on federal lands.

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