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Wilmoth: Low natural gas prices shrink Oklahoma energy profits

Continued suppressed natural gas prices are lowering profits for Oklahoma energy companies, despite their efforts to produce more oil.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: February 22, 2013

A recurring nightmare for energy companies again is a common theme during earnings season.

Even as producers are benefiting from newfound oil and natural gas throughout the country and are recovering more crude than they have seen over the past two decades, stubbornly low natural gas prices are weighing on their results.

Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. this week both boasted strong production increases, lower costs and other figures that usually signal higher profits.

But both companies reported net losses in 2012, largely because of write-downs as low natural gas prices have devalued their vast natural gas properties.

Energy companies throughout the country are reporting a similar pattern.

Despite several rounds of winter storms, the natural gas price remains suppressed, relatively unchanged throughout the winter.

The price of natural gas slipped 4 cents Thursday to close at $3.24 per thousand cubic feet, up from a low of $1.90 in April, but still below comfortable levels for producers.

The price is up from $2.60 one year ago, but well below the recent high of $4.92 in July 2011.

Most producers have worked hard over the past two years to switch from a focus on natural gas to an emphasis on oil as commodity prices have moved in opposite directions.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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