Shale production will keep natural gas prices in North America in the range of $4-$5 per 1,000 cubic feet in 2012 dollars through 2035, says a new report by energy researcher IHS. It predicts that even at $4 or less, about 900 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas resources can be produced economically. That's more than 30 years of U.S. consumption at current levels and only about a third of total recoverable resources. "This means that the North American natural gas resource base can accommodate significant increases in demand without requiring a significantly higher price to elicit new supply," Tim Gardner, IHS vice president, said in a news release accompanying the study. There has been considerable debate over whether plans to export natural gas from North America would run up domestic prices from their low levels in recent years, which are a boon to petrochemical companies and other manufacturers, as well as consumers. The study said that over 15 years, an average residence that uses natural gas for heat will save $5,731 compared to an all-electric home. A copy of the study, titled Fueling the Future with Natural Gas: Bringing it Home, is available here.
-- Jim Fuquay