On An Energy-Equivalent Basis, Natural Gas Falls To New Lows Vs. Oil

Includes: CVX, UNG, XOM
by: Mark J. Perry

Here's an update of a chart I've featured before comparing prices for oil and natural gas on an energy equivalent basis. To compare oil (priced in dollars per barrel) and natural gas (priced in dollars per million BTUs) on an energy equivalent basis, natural gas prices have to be increased by a factor of 5.8, because one barrel of oil produces 5.8 million BTUs of energy.

With natural gas selling for about $2.30 per million BTUs, its equivalent price for the same energy as a barrel of oil would be $13.34, or 87% below the price of WTI oil at $104.71 per barrel. When measured on an energy equivalent basis, natural gas has never been cheaper than oil than it is today.

Related: Forbes reports that major oil and gas companies Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) will continue drilling for natural gas, even with record low prices, with Chevron planning to double its production in the Marcellus region:

"Despite low natural gas prices, Chevron looks intent on pushing into the natural gas market in the U.S. The company plans to double its drilling in the Marcellus play this year while also drilling a few exploration wells in the Utica play despite gas prices touching their lowest point in a decade, making shale exploration less profitable. Chevron’s decision to press on with shale exploration mirrors that of rival Exxon Mobil, which has decided against production cuts."

In that case, we can expect natural gas prices to remain low.