Natural gas and propane prices have been increasing over the past few years due to increasing demand and the continued instability in oil producing areas of the world. In October 2004, natural gas prices climbed to an all time high of $9.00 per mmBtu on the NYMEX commodity exchange for natural gas delivered to the Henry Hub in Louisiana before retreating to the $7.00 range in December 2004. Prices for 2004 were 149% higher than 5 years ago and 80% higher than 2 years ago. The Future prices for 2005 are trending down from current levels to $6.40 to $6.50 per mmBtu until November 2005 when prices are forecasted to rise to about $7.30 for the 2005-2006 heating season. Propane prices have also taken a dramatic jump with wholesale prices reaching record levels at $0.97 per gallon in October 2004, 64% above October 2003 prices and 115% higher than the average price for October 1999, five years earlier. Energy costs are the second largest cost for greenhouse owner behind labor costs, with greenhouse heating consuming 70 – 80% of the total energy budget. The long-term natural gas price forecast predicts prices to decline only about 5% as new wells come on line. Current propane prices for 2005 to 2007 are forecasted to be 15% above the 2004 price levels. Political instability and high demand will continue to affect future prices for both natural gas and propane.
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