Shizuoka Gas Company announced on the 10th of December a 5.27% reduction in the tariff applicable to regulated customers, effective the 1st of January 2005. This follows a 10.18% reduction in September 2002. Such downward amendments are mandatory for gas utility companies whenever their conversion to natural gas is completed, but the magnitude of the reductions is dependent on the effectiveness of each company’s cost-cutting efforts. Cost competitiveness is becoming an increasingly important factor in the business performance of the gas utilities, owing to intensified competition in both the residential and commercial markets, especially with the electric power companies.