Oil Jitters Can't Shake Up Natural Gas Prices

Sooner or later, George P. Mitchell is going to be right. For years now, the chairman of Mitchell Energy & Development Corp. in Houston has been predicting an end to the natural-gas surplus. He won some vindication a year ago, when a record cold snap sent gas demand and prices soaring. This year, figuring that clean-air legislation would push gas into the limelight, Mitchell hiked his exploration spending 25%. Then came the Persian Gulf standoff, which has given customers who can burn either oil or gas further encouragement to shun oil.

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