It’s been an interesting time for investors in the natural gas space. As hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have become the extraction method of choice for E&P firms, production of the fuel has skyrocketed and led to a surplus of supply and high storage inventories. The huge surpluses have combined with slack demand for the fuel, causing prices to crater. At one point they were below $2 per MMBtu [for more oil news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
For investors in the natural gas sector it certainly has been a tug of war the last few years. Prices for the fuel surged from a low of $1.96 per million Btus in early 2002 to a peak of $15.78 back in 2005 as the U.S. was predicted to be in short supply of the fuel. Since that time, advances in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as well as horizontal drilling have helped unlock a virtual ocean of the natural gas within U.S. borders. That abundance has completely changed the supply landscape and has resulted in massive inventories of the fuel [for more natural gas news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
The $6 trillion global energy industry has undergone a lot of changes over its long history, from the first successful oil tanker developed by Sweden in 1878 to the first mobile steel barges for offshore drilling developed by the Texas Company in the early 1930s. But, in the modern era, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) stands out as the single most important innovation [for more fracking news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Just under four years ago, natural gas prices in the United States traded around $10 per futures contract. Just a few months ago, the price had plummeted to right around $2. There has been a slight recovery to above $3, but prices are still considered severely depressed from a historical context [for more natural gas news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].