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The New Truth About Natural Gas Could Shock the Market

Commodities / Natural Gas May 20, 2010 - 02:58 AM GMT

By: Keith_Schaefer

Commodities Investor sentiment is changing – to the positive – on natural gas.  Despite record or near record injection levels into storage in the US most weeks, gas prices have remained steady or even risen.  The number of drill rigs actively drilling for gas has barely budged, though it has been down in the US three of the last four weeks.

But the market believes slightly increased demand and slightly lower rig counts is enough to move the natural gas price in the US up between 10-15% in the last week.  (Canadian gas prices are up 1-2%)

The US gas market could really get a boost this week as early estimates for injection are between 60 bcf (billion cubic feet) and 100 bcf.  Last year’s injection was 100 bcf.

But there are a couple other ideas that the market is grappling with.  Bill Powers, editor of Powers Energy Investor, has been one of the loudest voices proclaiming the current glut in gas will be short-lived as many conventional basins are declining rapidly.  One thing to remember is that when a market is bearish, it doesn’t want to look at good news (and vice versa).  So Powers’ idea – supported by a slew of facts he has put together and is now writing a book on – isn’t mainstream enough to yet affect the price.

The other idea is that the total recoverable amount of gas in these new shale plays is not what the market believes.

Art Berman began giving a presentation as early as last December that the EUR (Estimated Ultimate Recovery) on these wells was much below the 20 years plus he was hearing from the industry.  He plotted several graphs which he says shows that 63%-95% of the economic value in a shale gas well is used by year the end of Year 5 – and should be shut in.

His data shows that 3.5‐5.0 Bcf is the highest average EUR for any Haynesville operator, and most are far lower, and yet a 5‐6 Bcf EUR is threshold for break‐even economics because of high well cost ($7‐10.5 million).

You can read his blog here:

This theory is gaining increasing credibility in the market, despite the impressive sales job the industry has been able to do in convincing the market otherwise.

Another shale gas sceptic is Financial Times writer John Dizard.  He has written a series of articles this spring that outline the great sales job he believes the natural gas producers have done convincing investors that shale gas can be economic at these price levels.  You can read one of his several stories here:

For over a year now analysts in the US like Benjamin Dell have been saying that investors should not believe shale gas producers when they say, in their corporate presentations, that they can make money under $5/mcf gas.  He suggested their financials showed otherwise.

And of course, even the natural gas CEO’s have thrown in the towel, with both Chesapeake and EOG Resources saying they must get more oily, and less gassy.

All this has now got the market believing that rig counts will continue to decline, weekly injection levels will soon start moving below the five year average, and natural gas prices and stocks will move up.

Other factors include hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).  The 2003-2008 years had lots of hurricanes, with Katrina being the most famous.  Large amounts of natural gas production in the GOM was shut in for months at a time.  I still believe the amount of water that shale gas uses could end up causing a stir in the market.

I have stayed away from natural gas weighted stocks for over a year – unless they were part of the Cardium craze in Alberta earlier this year, and is one reason why the subscriber portfolio returned 146% in 2009.

But last year I also dedicated one issue to a few natural gas stocks that investors could consider on their own if they were determined to play.  In one of my next two issues I’m going to briefly update those stocks, and introduce a couple new ones that have developed into intriguing OGIB portfolio prospects.

The timing on this upward move in gas could be perfect, as I have thought most gas stocks overvalued for a long time.  But they now have gone lower as part of the downdraft in oil prices.  If you’re a believer in gas, this issue will give you some great ideas on stocks that already have a big growth engine built in, and have great leverage to a rising natural gas prices.

Latest Interview! To listen to Keith Schaefer on Korelin Economics Radio, May 1, 2010, please visit:

About Oil & Gas Investments Bulletin

Keith Schaefer, Editor and Publisher of Oil & Gas Investments Bulletin, writes on oil and natural gas markets - and stocks - in a simple, easy to read manner. He uses research reports and trade magazines, interviews industry experts and executives to identify trends in the oil and gas industry - and writes about them in a public blog. He then finds investments that make money based on that information. Company information is shared only with Oil & Gas Investments subscribers in the Bulletin - they see what he’s buying, when he buys it, and why.

The Oil & Gas Investments Bulletin subscription service finds, researches and profiles growing oil and gas companies.  The Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin is a completely independent service, written to build subscriber loyalty. Companies do not pay in any way to be profiled. For more information about the Bulletin or to subscribe, please visit:

Legal Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should any Oil and Gas Investments Bulletin material be construed as an offering of securities or investment advice. Readers should consult with his/her professional investment advisor regarding investments in securities referred to herein. It is our opinion that junior public oil and gas companies should be evaluated as speculative investments. The companies on which we focus are typically smaller, early stage, oil and gas producers. Such companies by nature carry a high level of risk. Keith Schaefer is not a registered investment dealer or advisor. No statement or expression of opinion, or any other matter herein, directly or indirectly, is an offer to buy or sell the securities mentioned, or the giving of investment advice. Oil and Gas Investments is a commercial enterprise whose revenue is solely derived from subscription fees. It has been designed to serve as a research portal for subscribers, who must rely on themselves or their investment advisors in determining the suitability of any investment decisions they wish to make. Keith Schaefer does not receive fees directly or indirectly in connection with any comments or opinions expressed in his reports. He bases his investment decisions based on his research, and will state in each instance the shares held by him in each company. The copyright in all material on this site is held or used by permission by us. The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only and may not, in any form or by any means, be copied or reproduced, summarized, distributed, modified, transmitted, revised or commercially exploited without our prior written permission.

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