IPAA says lack of rigs and crews restrains output

The Independent Petroleum Association of America's supply and demand committee has predicted US gas production will grow 1.5% to 19.01 tcf next year, with most of those new supplies coming from the Gulf of Mexico.

IPAA said the number of rigs drilling for gas is �as high as it ever has been."

It added, �The incentives to produce certainly are there. But in order to produce more gas quickly, producers need to find yet more drilling rigs and competent personnel to operate those rigs."

It said the industry�s recovery from the 1998-1999 depression will be �a long haul back.�

Like other industry observers, the IPAA committee said producers would be hard pressed next summer to replace gas storage to a 3 tcf target by November. As a result, they predict a tight gas market through this winter and into next summer.

US gas consumption is expected to hit 22.8 tcf next year, up 3.4% from this year. But production is predicted to increase only 1.5% to a little over 19 tcf during the same period.

To compensate for that imbalance, the US must import more than 4 tcf of gas next year, up 8.6% from this year.

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