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Gas from Marcellus Shale surprises experts

Oct. 23, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

PITTSBURGH -- Natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale region is growing faster than expected, according to a new federal report issued Tuesday.

Marcellus production has now reached 12 billion cubic feet a day, the Energy Information Administration report found. That's the energy equivalent of about 2 million barrels of oil a day, and more than six times the 2009 production rate.

For perspective, if the Marcellus Shale region were a country, its natural gas production would rank third in the world, after Russia and the rest of the U.S. The Marcellus now produces more than double Iran's yearly natural gas output, and that glut has led to wholesale prices here that are about one-quarter of those in Japan, for example.

The vast majority of the Marcellus gas is coming from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The shale also lies under other states, but most of the wells in Ohio produce oil, and New York has placed a moratorium on shale gas drilling.

Federal energy experts are surprised by the rapid Marcellus growth, since the number of drilling rigs has fallen over the past two years.

"A year ago, we were not expecting the Marcellus to be at 12 billion cubic feet," said Sam Gorgen of the EIA, which is a part of the Department of Energy.

Amazon.com raises free shipping minimum: $35

NEW YORK -- Amazon.com customers will need to spend more money on the site in order to qualify for free shipping.

The online retailer raised the minimum order size needed for free shipping to $35 from $25. The change, made Monday, comes ahead of the busy holiday shopping season. It also comes after Walmart.com made a similar change earlier this month.

Amazon.com Inc. is pushing customers to sign up for its Amazon Prime service, which costs $79 a year. Members receive free two-day shipping on millions of items on the site and access to its TV and movie streaming service.

NRP declares quarterly distribution, paid in Nov.

HOUSTON -- Natural Resource Partners L.P. Tuesday declared a third-quarter distribution of $0.55 per unit.

The distribution will be paid on Nov. 14 to unitholders of record on Nov. 5.

NRP, which has its operations headquarters in Huntington, owns and manages mineral reserve properties.

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