| HOUSTON, June 16
HOUSTON, June 16 Energy investor T. Boone
Pickens questioned on Monday whether U.S. natural gas production
can continue its robust growth with just 300 drilling rigs
working to find gas.
Last week, the number of rigs drilling for gas fell by 10 to
310, while rigs drilling for oil rose by 6 to 1,542, according
to data from oil services firm Baker Hughes.
While gas-directed rigs have fallen from 353 a year ago, the
U.S. Energy Information Administration keeps raising its
estimate for gas production this year and next.
In its June Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA said it
expects daily gas production to reach 73 billion cubic feet per
day in 2014 and 74 bcf/d in 2015, the fourth and fifth straight
annual records due primarily to growth from the Marcellus shale
play, EIA said.
However, Pickens said the pace of gas production is on the
"You can't add (to production) with 300 rigs," he added.
Pickens expects utilities to rebuild gas in storage to
between 3.4 trillion and 3.5 trillion cubic feet by the
beginning of winter, well-below the five-year industry average
of 3.8 tcf after the coldest winter in decades.
Pickens, founder of BP Capital, was in Houston on Monday to
talk about natural gas as a transportation fuel, and to
recognize Waste Management Inc for its growing use of
natural gas to fuel its fleet of trash-hauling vehicles.
Pickens also founded Clean Energy Fuels Corp builds
and operates compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural
gas (LNG) fueling stations and other equipment.
Waste Management, a leading trash collection, disposal and
recycling company, has more than 3,200 trucks that run on CNG,
or about 18 percent of its fleet, said David Steiner, chief
Waste Management began using gas to fuel some trash trucks
in California in the mid-1990s, working with a previous Pickens
company, but the effort stalled when truck engines had
The push to rely on the alternative fuel gained momentum in
2007 when U.S. gas production from unconventional shale plays
blossomed and gas prices fell, Steiner said.
Waste Management is now spending about 90 percent of its
fleet budget to replace diesel trucks with CNG trucks. While
more costly to purchase, Steiner said each CNG truck reduces
diesel use by an average of 8,000 gallons a year and eliminates
22 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston. Editing by Andre