Experts speak on new gas

Four CEOs of energy companies from around the country addressed an audience on shale gas, a developing energy that is expected to have an increased production within the next 15 years. | Newton Liu/The Daily Cougar

A panel of distinguished leaders expounded on the latest energy discovery that could possibly replace or reduce the need for oil in the future.

The Distinguished Leaders Series, hosted by the C.T. Bauer College of Business, began Tuesday inside the new Stubblefield Auditorium in Cemo Hall.

The event had the participation of Davis Thames, president of Cheniere Marketing LLC; Richard Stoneburner, president and CEO of Petrohawk Energy Corp.; Bruce Northcutt, president and CEO of Copano Energy LLC; and Dat Tran, associate general counsel of Sequent Energy Management.

The participants held a panel discussion on the growth of gas shale discoveries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Energy Information Administration reported shale gas production at 10 percent in 2008. The EIA expects production to increase to 26 percent by 2035.

This growth in production is already seen in the size of shale gas companies. Petrohawk, for example, started as a small company with only 20 employees in 2003; today it employs more than 600 people.

“We started with about $60 million in equity capital and right now our enterprise value is about $8.5 billion,” Stoneburner said. “It’s really a phenomenal growth story.”

Shale gas has been found in many parts of the country, including Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and the Rocky Mountains.

Copano Energy, which started in 1992, began with only 23 miles of pipes. Today it has grown to 6,700 miles.

“The producers weren’t getting the best deal from the pipelines,” Northcutt said. “So from that, we had this attitude that the producers are our customers, and we are doing everything we can to get it right with them and get their gas to the market.”

According to Thames, shale gas was discovered around 40 years ago, but there was no production because of the lack of technology.

“To me this is a story of a completely transformational technological change in the activity of drilling and producing wells,” Thames said.

When asked about vehicles in the US switching from consumer oil to natural gas, Northcutt said that a steady increase in oil prices will probably make the change — however, the whole industry would have to invest in that change.

“Our general infrastructure has been suited for gasoline and not natural gas,” Northcutt said. “I think it’s going to take the infrastructure’s investment in order to make the change, but the day is coming.”

The next Distinguished Leaders Series is scheduled for March 24 and will feature David McClanahan, president and CEO of CenterPoint Energy.

Joseph Pratt, professor of business and history moderated the event.

1 Comment

  • Replacing the need for oil? Do you know how many products require oil in their production. Shale is just another notch on our energy belt, that is, if Pharoah Obama will allow us to where the belt.

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