Natural gas revolution continues to fuel CERA buzz

Adding to a dominating industry perspective in recent days on an impending energy revolution, energy executives on Thursday insisted that the American natural gas boom is real and will reshape power supplies for the nation’s cars, homes, phones and even the Internet.

“We probably don’t have 100 years, we probably have 200 years supply,” G. Steven Farris, CEO of Houston-based oil and gas producer Apache Corp., told an audience on the fourth day of the IHS CERA Week energy conference at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston. “What is really happening with respect to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling is we’ve opened up areas of rock that have never been able to produce and that has tremendous impact on the reserves of natural gas.”

Energy ministers, state governors, and executives from some of the largest energy companies in the world have made bold pronouncements throughout the week on the anticipated impact of America’s substantial natural supply.

The supply is likely to play a major role in electricity, as well as in vehicles, executives said.

Thomas Farrell, CEO of Virginia-based power utility Dominion Resources, told the audience in a morning session that his company is pursuing more power production from natural gas, although it would likely account for no more than 40 percent of the utility’s power generation to maintain a diverse energy portfolio.

“Some of these machines that are being built now —  we’re building one that’s 1,300 megawatts will burn 250 decatherms a day,” he said. “I don’t even know what a decatherm is, but that sure sounds like a lot of gas to me.”

Although Farris said the abundant U.S. natural gas supply will likely keep prices low and predictable, Farrell said power companies would likely prefrain  from overexposure to natural gas.

“If you start putting those (natural gas generators) in all over the place, prices will not stay low forever,” Farrell said. “So we welcome it, but it makes us a little nervous that people are going to try to make us go in the direction of all gas so that my successors 10, 20, 30 years from now are going to look back and say, I sure wish they didn’t go all into natural gas.”