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Marcellus Shale may contain undiscovered gas

A new assessment of the Marcellus Shale says the formation in the Northeastern U.S. may contain 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas, far more than believed less than a decade ago.

The new assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey updates a 2002 study of the gas-rich formation that stretches through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The earlier study concluded that the region had about 2 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The growth in the USGS estimate takes into account advances in drilling and completion techniques -- namely horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing -- that have made more formations accessible.

The agency also estimates the Marcellus contains about 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas liquids, which currently fetch higher prices than natural gas.

As a result of the report, the Energy Department says it will reduce its estimate of undiscovered natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, which had been about 410 trillion cubic feet.

-- Houston Chronicle

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Fracking ban recommended

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Gov. Chris Christie has recommended a one-year ban on the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, disappointing environmentalists who had hoped New Jersey would become the first state to permanently forbid the technique.

A coalition representing natural gas interests applauded the decision as economically responsible.

The State Legislature passed a bill in June to permanently ban the procedure known as "fracking." Thursday, Christie sent it back with a conditional veto recommending that the ban be lifted in a year.

The legislation is largely symbolic because there's not enough natural gas under New Jersey to drill for, experts say.

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GM cuts pickup production

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Co. says it is cutting pickup truck production next month in a sign that truck sales aren't as robust as the company had hoped.

Spokesman Tom Wickham says GM canceled five scheduled overtime shifts on Saturdays in September and October. He didn't know how many vehicles would be affected, but the Flint, Mich., plant where the pickups are made can produce 900 trucks per day.

The Flint plant added a third shift earlier this month.

GM has acknowledged having an unusually high inventory of pickups. At the end of July, it had 115 days' worth of pickups to sell. An 80-day supply is more typical.

Chevrolet Silverado sales are up 7 percent this year, but that's less than sales have risen industry-wide.

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Bank pays for violation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- JPMorgan Chase Bank is paying $88.3 million in an agreement with the Treasury Department, which says the bank violated regulations that prohibit lending money for illicit nuclear trade and that cover dealings with Cuba and Sudan.

Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the agreement Thursday with the big Wall Street bank. The office said some of JPMorgan Chase's "apparent violations" of the regulations were serious.

It was the largest penalty paid in a settlement by a U.S. bank in OFAC's 60-year history, Treasury said.

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Astronics gets contract

An East Aurora company is lighting the way to the runway for the U.S. Air Force.

Astronics received a five-year contract to replace LED lighting and fixtures on Air Force base taxiways, marked paths for driving planes to the runway. Astronics is one of a couple of firms on the contract. It's portion could be worth up to $7.4 million.

The LED technology that Astronics will be installing has a lower lifecycle cost and saves energy.

If the technology is a success, it could be used for the sides of runways, which represent a lot more lighting.

The first order, worth $72,000 for 600 fixtures, has already been issued. The Air Force will be able to issue more orders over the course of the contract.

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