News bites: Natural gas prices drop, ‘fracking’ revenues rise, and Tony Hayward gets paid

The Wall Street Journal reports that natural-gas prices are going down, down, down and wonders: “Is there any end to the free-fall that has gripped the natural gas market?”

But in a separate story, the Journal looks at a federal report that forecasts long-term price increases if U.S. natural-gas export plans come to pass. From their piece:

Increased exports of U.S. natural gas could drive up domestic gas prices as much as 54% in 2018, federal officials said Thursday, in a projection that could complicate efforts by more than a half-dozen companies hoping to spend billions of dollars on new export terminals.

The energy news service Platts reports that a top analyst sees the global market for hydraulic fracturing — the controversial gas-drilling method — heading up another 19 percent in 2012 to reach $37 billion in revenues.

Reuters reports that former BP boss Tony Hayward won’t be part of the 99 percent any time soon.

“Former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, financier Nathaniel Rothschild and former banker Julian Metherell will share a 158 million pound ($244 million) payout after exercising a right to a 6.67 percent stake in Genel Energy, the oil group they founded last year,” they report.

The Associated Press reports that Exxon Mobil Corp. has reached a $1.6 million settlement with the state of Montana over last summer’s pipeline break that fouled the Yellowstone River.