Nation briefs 6/9/04

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Natural gas stocks good, but prices to stay high

WASHINGTON -- While there is plenty of natural gas in storage, growing demand this summer will keep prices high, industry leaders predicted Tuesday. The Natural Gas Supply Association said it "expects continuing upward pressure on prices this cooling season primarily due to projected warmer-than-normal weather, a strengthening economy and relatively flat production." Joseph Blount, the trade group's chairman, warned that a number of "wild cards" could send prices higher. Among them: a hotter summer than expected, disruption of supplies because of hurricanes or pipeline problems. One advantage this year, Blount said, is that the amount of natural gas in inventory is at about the five-year average, compared with a year ago, when inventories were dangerously low.

Wife of ex-Enron chief to serve year in jail

HOUSTON -- The wife of former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow was ordered to report to a federal detention center to begin her one-year sentence for helping her husband hide ill-gotten income. In an order issued late Monday, U.S. District Judge David Hittner said Lea Fastow, 42, must surrender July 12 at a facility in Houston. She pleaded guilty May 6 to a misdemeanor tax crime. Her sentence followed months of legal wrangling in which the Fastows' attorneys sought to minimize her time away from the couple's two young sons. Lea Fastow's attorneys asked Hittner to recommend she serve her time at a minimum security prison camp for women. Hittner rejected the request last month.

-- From wire reports

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