Industry confident about future of U.S. natural gas

The energy industry is confident about the future of North American natural gas, believing electric power and gas exports will drive higher demand for the fuel, according to a survey released this week.

About 92 percent of respondents to a Black & Veatch survey said they are “optimistic” or “very optimistic” that the natural gas industry will grow in North America. They trust that unconventional natural gas resources will remain economic through at least 2030.

“There’s a very upbeat crowd here,” said Greg Hopper, managing director of the Black & Veatch Management Consulting Division. “Gas is the future.”

Black & Veatch analyzed responses from 311 people linked to the energy industry, from law firms to utilities, surveyed  in July and August.

When asked what will fuel higher demand for North America’s natural gas, the largest portion of respondents — 61 percent — pointed to exports. Fewer viewed natural gas vehicles and manufacturing industries as drivers of greater natural gas use.

“You have thirsty international markets that are ready to go,” Hopper said of Asian countries and other regions that have high demand for natural gas. “You don’t have to create the market. The market is creating itself.”

Natural gas settled  at $3.76 per million British thermal units  in trading Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its highest close in more than a year.

A  vast majority of the survey respondents  believe growing use of natural gas will push its price higher. Just 15 percent said the price will remain below $4.49 through 2020. The largest portion believe natural gas will cost $4.50 to $5.99 by 2020.

Read the full report below or see a summary of survey results here.

Black & Veatch Natural Gas Report 2012