Exploration and production companies remain concerned about unpredictable oil and gas prices, driving decisions about capital expenditures and joint ventures, according to a survey by Grant Thornton and Hart Energy.
The survey, released this week, found that industry officials responding to the survey expect the Henry Hub natural gas spot prices to average $3.48 per million British thermal units in 2013, rising to $4.09 by 2015.
Prices for West Texas Intermediate crude oil are expected to average $91.18 per barrel in 2013, rising to $94.12 by 2015.
“For the second consecutive year, our survey has revealed that price volatility continues to significantly impact the energy industry,” said Brandon Sear, national energy practice leader for Grant Thornton. “These persistent cost issues are … leading many of our respondents to indicate a reliance on hedging production as insurance against price fluctuations.”
The 2013 survey was the 11th conducted by Grant Thornton of upstream U.S. energy companies, looking at attitudes about the industry and market.
Uncertainty about natural gas and crude oil prices ranked as the top concern, just as it did in the 2012 survey.
More than half of companies reported that they expect employment to rise for the remainder of 2013, but that rate of increase was down from the previous two years.
Access to a skilled technical staff, ranked the third-biggest problem in 2012, dropped to No. 8 this year.
About 60 percent of respondents said they expect to increase their domestic capital expenditures in 2013, down from 63 percent in 2012.