Natural gas price trend prompts optimistic tone from energy firms

Strengthening natural gas prices have given Oklahoma natural gas company executives reason to feel more hopeful about the future.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: May 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm •  Published: May 3, 2013

Boosted by strengthening prices, executives at Oklahoma natural gas producers have used a more optimistic tone in recent days as they describe their primary product.

“The recent uplift in natural gas prices could have a significant impact on our financial results in upcoming quarters,” Devon Energy Corp. CEO John Richels said during a conference call with analysts Wednesday.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. acting CEO Steve Dixon had a similar message.

“Natural gas markets have improved materially in the last few months, and signs of long-term demand growth are beginning to materialize across multiple market segments,” Dixon said in an analyst conference call Wednesday.

Tulsa-based WPX Energy Inc. has seen a similar trend.

“On the gas front, we're encouraged by the stronger prices that started late in the quarter,” WPX CEO Ralph A. Hill said Thursday.

After bottoming out at $1.90 per thousand cubic feet in April 2012, natural gas prices have steadily increased over the past year, reaching $4.32 Wednesday, up 134 percent.

The price slipped 6.5 percent Thursday to settle at $4.04.

While natural gas prices tumbled in recent years, the price of oil soared, leading energy companies to switch as quickly as possible to a focus on crude.

Executives are watching the market closely, still not willing to jump back to natural gas.

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