Friday, July 31, 2009

Chesapeake's Gas Production Growth Continues Unabated

So much for cheap gas and oversupply: Chesepeake Energy Energy Corp., America's largest independent gas producer, saw production grow 5% in the second-quarter compared to a year ago:

Production grew 4% from the first quarter of the year, and proved reserves grew 5.7% from a year ago.

The increase signals that Chesapeake is apparently abandoning the strategy it adopted earlier this spring of turning off some of its wells due to low prices. Prices haven't improved much since April, when the company said it was shutting down about 13% of its production, but the company has nonetheless turned those wells back on.


Chesapeake warned, however, that the industry may be forced to shut off some wells later this year as storage facilities and pipelines fill up, leaving no room for more gas. Earlier on Thursday, the Energy Information Administration reported that the amount of gas in storage had risen 71 billion cubic feet in the past week to more than 3 trillion cubic feet, 19% above normal.

Storage levels are rising because U.S. companies are continuing to produce more natural gas even as the recession has driven down demand for the fuel, which heats more than half of American homes and generates roughly a quarter of the nation's electricity. The glut of gas has driven the price down to under $4 per million British thermal units, from a high of more than $13 per million BTUs last year.

But in recent days, companies that have reported big production gains have seen their share prices rise, despite fears that increased supplies could keep prices low. Newfield Exploration Co., for example, saw its stock jump 11% Thursday after it reported unexpectedly large production growth.


Chesapeake saw some of its biggest production gains in the Haynesville Shale, a massive natural-gas field in northern Louisiana and East Texas that the company discovered last year. Chesapeake's production there grew 85% in the second quarter from the first quarter.

- Brewskie

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