Most of the respondents to a survey conducted by Deloitte believe gas self-sufficiency has arrived or is within reach for the US, but a majority believes that independence will never happen with oil.

Despite predictions that the shale boom will push US to energy independence, oil and gas leaders participating in a Deloitte survey said they expect to see continued reliance on foreign oil but not gas.

The survey, released this week, showed that 75% said the US is already gas self-sufficient or will be within 10 years. However, 54% said the US will never be completely oil self-sufficient, while only 2% said the US is already oil self-sufficient. Of those surveyed, 24% believe oil self-sufficiency could be reached with the next five to 10 years.

“It is not surprising that oil and gas decision-makers are enthusiastic about the role of natural gas in our national energy future, given burgeoning supplies, America’s comparatively low cost of extraction, and its relative cleanliness,” said John England, Deloitte’s vice chairman. “What is surprising is that natural gas is a fuel source that we were aggressively preparing to import at high world prices just a few years ago.”

While survey respondents were confident in US gas supplies, Deloitte said it believes the results for oil self-sufficiency could have been higher had it included North America as a whole, instead of just the US. Canada’s success with oil sands could have turned the responses in a different direction.

“When you combine unconventional oil supplies with the recently established increase in shale gas reserves, you could have the makings of a true energy renaissance,” said Peter Robertson, an independent advisor to Deloitte and former vice chairman of Chevron Corp.

However, various estimates for shale resources have been floating. After the International Energy Agency released its World Energy Outlook, which stated the US could surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2020, Ed Morse – managing director and global head of commodities research for Citigroup Global Markets – spoke about the discrepancy to those gathered at Hart Energy’s DUG East Conference & Exhibition in Pittsburg.

“The US is an 11 million barrel per day [MMb/d] producing country, not the 6.6 MMb/d producing country that the weekly Department of Energy data indicate,” Morse said.

The survey showed that 51% believe the current industry shale resource estimates are pretty much on target. However, 23% believed the recoverable shale estimates are somewhat overestimated. The same percentage said they believed the estimates are somewhat underestimated.

When it came to regulation of hydraulic fracturing, the process that has made domestic shale plays so successful, 63% supported regulated disclosure of the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluids and 49% believed fracing regulations are “just right” or “on the right track,” compared to 39% who said there was too much regulation.

Survey respondents also were asked about the likelihood of LNG exports getting approved and exports’ impact on domestic gas prices.

As for LNG export approval, 36% said export terminals will receive government approval sometime after 2014; 22% predicted approval in 2014; 14%, in 2013; and 25%, replied “don’t know.” The remainder responded “never.”
But the majority – 81% – expected domestic gas prices to either increase slightly or stay about the same because of LNG exports.

Survey results also revealed:
• 59% expected more capital spending in 2013;
• 53% expected more M&A activity in 2013; and
• 65% expected to see E&P in the Gulf of Mexico increase significantly or somewhat.

The survey canvassed 250 oil and gas professionals with the interviews conducted in October. The average age of the respondent was 48.2 and the average years of industry experience was 19.8. Half of the respondents were from the E&P sector.

Contact the author, Velda Addison, at vaddison@hartenergy.com.