Natural Gas Intelligence
Gas Supply Growth, Price Stability Affirmed to NARUC

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Natural gas growth potential and prospects for continued modest prices were talked up to a group of state regulatory commissioners meeting in Los Angeles Monday, following keynote addresses earlier in the day touting gas and all of its traditional and renewable competitors.

AGA's Christopher McGill and Bentek CEO Porter Bennett focused more narrowly on gas reserves mostly in talking to the NARUC members who serve on the association's committee that is tracking current gas industry issues, including supply/demand, pipeline safety and price concerns.

Bennett talked about still-unfolding developments in the natural gas boom in terms of the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology that is underpinning it, the side effect on domestic onshore oil development and the dynamics all of this will have on energy demand.

"We have already redefined peak production, and we are continuing to do so," said Bennett, citing the statistic that since August last year the nation has been steadily exceeding (by more than 120 days) all-time record peak production of natural gas set in 1971. "And in more than 50 days we have exceeded the 1971 record levels by as much as 2 Bcf/d."

As an aside, Bennett said production has fallen in the past two weeks, but he characterized that as normal for this time of year when gathering systems and other pipeline upgrade and maintenance work is in full swing.

Bennett made a number of bullish observations about oil and gas supplies, but he added some caveats. On price, he said Bentek estimates now are for the average cost to stay under $5/MMBtu through 2017. Other areas he touched on covered production costs, oil's role and the fact that in the shale plays production growth is eclipsing demand.

While technology and other factors have allowed production per well or per rig to increase markedly, and costs of production to stay relatively low, the need for increased infrastructure, the advent of liquids and a shortage of fracking crews to keep up with the frantic expansion have all begun to drive up some of the upfront costs, Bennett said.

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