It used to be that oil and gas prices marched in lockstep. The reasons were: a) the two were virtually interchangeable in production, and b) the two were virtually interchangeable in consumption.
No more. There were rumblings in 2010, when the price of oil briefly rose to five times the price of natural gas . Over the past year, however, the two have completely separated, so that the price of oil is now 12 times the price of gas and still climbing, the two are now completely detached commodities.
The reasons are fairly simple. Gas used to be found mainly in conjunction with prospecting for oil. In fact it was regarded as a waste product. There is an old story from the Texas oil fields that if a geologist hit gas three times in a row, he was fired. Usually it was simply "flared off," as is still being done in the Bakken. With the construction of gas pipelines, however, gas became marketable and the two began to march in tandem. Now with the invention of fracking technology, natural gas has become a completely independent commodity. Gas supplies have gushed forth so that, with a warm winter, storage vaults have become full and the price is in free fall. Over the past six months alone, the price at the Henry Hubbard has fallen 45 percent from $3.57 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) to $1.98/MMBtu. At the same time, oil has increased from $103.90 per barrel to $123.81 per bbl.
The result is that oil, which is rarely more than twice the price of natural gas when measured in equal output of Btus, is now twelve times the price. The likely outcome is that rigs that have been employed for Fracking will be switched to oil exploration. Chesapeake, the nation's second largest drilling company, is already redeploying into oil. At the same time, natural gas vendors are looking for new markets. An export terminal is underway in Louisiana, gas is rapidly replacing coal in electrical boilers and headway is rapidly being made for running vehicles on compressed natural gas