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It’s a Natural Gas Gas Gas: Benposium 2013’s Lessons for Our Stocks

Monday, May 20, 2013

Every year the energy industry approaches Bentek Energy's annual Benposium abuzz. And this year’s conference in Houston last week didn’t disappoint. The data analytics company outdid itself in the face of almost daily changes in estimated scales of oil and gas plays and the dramatic recovery in natural gas pricing over the past year. The data crackled, and the Bentek brains fired their neurons.

Armed with Special Ops’ questions, I came back with an arsenal of information. Here’s the natural gas lowdown.

While the cold winter is the popular story for the rebounding price of natural gas, Bentek credits power plants’ natural gas use. The majority of plants can switch from coal to natural gas and back depending on which is most attractively priced. With gas prices plummeting up through April 2012 and recovering some through the fall, coal plants switched to then-cheaper natural gas. So the winter was cold, sure, but the heat came from gas moving in on coal’s turf. So if power has the power, Special Ops asks, “Could someone please give us a better idea of the points at which mixed-use power plants switch from coal to gas and back?”

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