Business Week
BENTEK Sees U.S. Gas-Productivity Gain Displacing Imports, Coal

Friday, January 08, 2010

By Edward Klump

Surging productivity from U.S. fields will end the need for natural-gas imports and provide enough additional fuel to run vehicle fleets and reduce coal-fired power generation, said consulting firm Bentek Energy LLC.

“We may very well be on the cusp of a completely different energy era than we’ve had for the last 30 or 40 years,” Bentek Chief Executive Officer Porter Bennett said yesterday in an interview in Bloomberg’s Houston bureau.

“A drilling rig today produces about two to three times what it did a couple of years ago,” said Bennett, 57. He said productivity gains were driven largely by advances in exploiting shale formations, where drillers fracture rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock gas deposits.

Output in 2010 “will probably look a little bit like it did last year, maybe a little bit higher,” Bennett said. Gas for February delivery fell 3.4 percent yesterday in New York to $5.806 per million British thermal units on concern temperatures won’t be cold enough to eliminate excess supplies.

“If we continue to have this kind of intense cold across the country, particularly in the northern half, we’ll chew off the storage overhang that we had going into the winter and that will bring us back down at least to where it was at the beginning of last winter,” Bennett said.

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