As a Texas oil and gas attorney, I have observed that it has been a slow year so far for leasing and drilling activity. But some experts are predicting a change on the horizon for 2010. An article this morning by Jamaal O’Neal in the Longview-Journal.com quotes Professor Ken Morgan, Texas Christian University geology professor and director of the TCU Energy Institute, as saying that higher oil and gas prices may be ahead for 2010. The article quotes research by Baker Hughes that natural gas, which was selling for $10.00 per thousand cubic feet or more in mid 2008, is currently selling for as low as $3.60 per thousand cubic feet. A barrel of crude oil that sells for about $69.00 currently, was bringing $150.00 a barrel during the summer of 2008. Professor Morgan opines that the large amount of natural gas reserves, as well as the world-wide recession, has kept prices for oil and gas low.
Basic economics dictates that when prices are low, oil and gas companies are reluctant to expend the large sums necessary to drill new wells. They are not going to make the investment if they can’t get a return. As the world economy recovers, demand for oil and gas will increase, the price of oil and gas will increase and the drilling of new wells will once again generate sufficient returns to support the cost of drilling. Once oil and gas companies begin to drill again, mineral owners will begin to get calls from landmen working for the oil and gas companies, seeking new leases. I may be a bit optimistic, but I see leasing and drilling activity in Texas picking up by March and April 2010.