Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Pa. gas storage fields may hit capacity this year

Sunday, July 08, 2012

July 8 2012

Pa. gas storage fields may hit capacity this year

After a mild winter and a fourfold bump in production, Pennsylvania's underground natural gas storage fields could briefly reach capacity this year — a mixed milestone for the state's booming gas industry.

In a worst-case scenario for smaller gas producers, “bigger companies could come in and buy some of them,†said Gavin Roberts, an energy analyst for Colorado-based Bentek Energy. “Some of the smaller producers may be forced into that situation,†depending on how prices and production shake out.

Another energy analyst, Bentek's Katie Jolly, called it a “strong likelihood†that Pennsylvania's storage fields will hit their maximums this year. She cited information from Dominion Transmission, a dominant gas storage and transmission company in Pennsylvania.

That number is likely to swell to 4.2 trillion cubic feet by autumn, up from 3.9 trillion cubic feet last year, according to Bentek's projections. Roberts estimated the national storage capacity at 4.5 trillion cubic feet.

Natural gas prices have fallen by about half in the past four years and now hover close to $3 per million metric British thermal units. Bentek expects the number to dip below $2 in the fall, though the dropoff could be even more dramatic in Pennsylvania if storage capacities are reached, Jolly said.

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