Monday, June 27, 2011

Updated--"Behind Veneer, Doubt on Future of Natural Gas" (Leaked Documents. E-mails) UNG; CHK; SWN; COG

Update: "Follow-up: "Nat Gas: bubble, boon or break-even? *updated*" (APC; CHK; DVN; RRC)"
Original post:
Sounds bullish to me. (for the commodity, not the companies) Chesapeake and Southwestern are both down a couple percent, Cabot is holding its own on news of a Marcellus hit.
Remind me to post the story of 'Big Green' and natural gas.
From the New York Times:
Energy companies have worked hard to promote the idea that natural gas is the fossil fuel of tomorrow, and they have found reliable allies among policy makers in Washington.

“The potential for natural gas is enormous,” President Obama said in a speech this year, having cited it as an issue on which Democrats and Republicans can agree.

The Department of Energy boasts in news releases about helping jump-start the boom in drilling by financing some research that made it possible to tap the gas trapped in shale formations deep underground.
In its annual forecasting reports, the United States Energy Information Administration, a division of the Energy Department, has steadily increased its estimates of domestic supplies of natural gas, and investors and the oil and gas industry have repeated them widely to make their case about a prosperous future.

But not everyone in the Energy Information Administration agrees. In scores of internal e-mails and documents, officials within the Energy Information Administration, or E.I.A., voice skepticism about the shale gas industry.

One official says the shale industry may be “ set up for failure.” “It is quite likely that many of these companies will go bankrupt,” a senior adviser to the Energy Information Administration  administrator predicts. Several officials echo concerns raised during previous bubbles, in housing and in technology stocks, for example, that ended in a bust.

Energy Information Administration employees also explain in e-mails and documents, copies of which were obtained by The New York Times, that industry estimates might overstate the amount of gas that companies can affordably get out of the ground.

They discuss the uncertainties about how long the wells will be productive as well as the high prices some companies paid during the land rush to lease mineral rights. They also raise concerns about the unpredictability of shale gas drilling.

 One senior Energy Information Administration official describes an “irrational exuberance” around shale gas.  An internal Energy Information Administration document says companies have exaggerated “the appearance of shale gas well profitability,” are highlighting the performance of only their best wells and may be using overly optimistic models for projecting the wells’ productivity over the next several decades....MORE
See also the NYT's "Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush"
HT on both: Energy Bulletin