SURGING NATURAL GAS PRICES: THREAT TO CONSUMERS THIS WINTER?
Techlife News|Techlife News #518
Brace for a rude surprise on your winter heating bills.

After years of unusually inexpensive levels, the price of natural gas in the United States has more than doubled since this time last year. In Europe and Asia, wholesale prices are more than five times what they were a year ago.

The surging costs have coincided with a robust recovery from the pandemic recession, with more homes and businesses burning all forms of fuel. That intensified demand is poised to contribute to higher heating costs in many areas of the world.

Having enjoyed a prolonged period of low prices, consumers of natural gas are facing the burden of far more expensive fuel — and the prospect of much higher heating bills this winter.

“Consumers got used to very low prices last year, because with the pandemic everything was shut down,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. “Now, everything’s coming back online, the industry is returning and natural gas is being used again in very large quantities. And that’s pushing up the price.”

In Europe and Asia, some companies that rely on natural gas have been forced out of business because of the higher prices. Four small British energy companies failed in recent weeks. Fertilizer producers, which use natural gas as a feedstock, are struggling. So are heavy industries that require significant heat, such as aluminum or cement producers.

Power companies in Europe and Asia are engaged in bidding wars over shiploads of liquid natural gas, thereby driving up the cost. Prices are also spiking in the U.S., which converts some of its natural gas into liquid and ships it to Europe and Asia. Those higher costs are showing up in gas bills for consumers around the globe. Analysts expect those prices to rise further through winter when customers are most reliant on the fuel.

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