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Nat gas should stay cheap—for long time: Study

A natural gas well at a fracking site in Washington Township, Pa.
Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Natural gas prices are likely to stay low for at least the next 20 years, with a long term annual average price of $4 to $5 per million Btu, a new study says.

The study by IHS details anticipated increase in demand from residential and commercial users and from exports.

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Why natural gas could stay cheap

Even with new demand, the quantity of U.S. gas resources is so vast thanks to unconventional drilling techniques that average Henry Hub prices should not rise dramatically from the $4 to $5 range, though they could fluctuate. (Henry Hub, based in Louisiana, is the delivery point for physical natural gas traded in the Nymex futures market.) Henry Hub prices averaged $4.24 per million British thermal units in December, and hit a high above $13 per million Btu in October 2005.

"We now have knowledge and comfort that we have an incredible resource base—technically recoverable resources of 3,000 trillion cubic feet," said Rita Beale, IHS senior director of power, gas, coal and renewables. "We have 900 tcfs of gas that can be recovered for $4 or less."

Natural gas futures were trading Friday at $4.34 per million Btu on the Nymex.

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