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February 12, 1982

It may be a case of grab that new customer while you can.

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Wall Street analysts wondered why some natural gas firms barely flinched when propects dimmed for fast decontrol of gas. One reason, they say: Gradual decontrol gives firms more time to sign customers while gas prices are low relative to oil. Based on heat content, the average price of gas in the US is about one-third that for oil -- but will gradually rise as older wells are exhausted and decontrol boosts prices for gas from newer wells.

Firms worried that if gas prices shot up, salesmen would have a tough time getting oil customers to switch.