Energy Q&A: Ryan Sitton on the future of natural gas in Texas
San Antonio Business Journal l Jun 30, 2016
By Sergio Chapa
As one of three officials elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas, Ryan Sitton gets to the see the big picture when it comes to oil and gas in the Lone Star State. Recent reports show that a record amount of natural gas is being used to generate electricity and to power vehicles. Sitton recently agreed to an exclusive chat with the Business Journal where spoke about the future of natural gas in Texas.
Does Texas have enough pipelines and infrastructure to meet growing demand for natural gas? In the short-term, one of the advantages for Texas and the United States overall is the infrastructure that we have to transport product. In Texas, we have about 400,000 miles of pipeline. So, the amount of infrastructure we have to move product in this state is really mind-boggling. It enables us to leverage our natural resources in a much more dynamic way.
And in the long-term? If you look at the economics around natural gas for electricity producion and specifically, the cost of building and operating a natural gas power plant, obviously, there are benefits to natural gas versus coal. If you play this out and there’s the same continued growth and usage, you’re going to need more infrastructure to move that product. So at some point, two years, five years or seven years down the road, we are going to begin to see more challenges on the natural gas transportion side.
Are we going to have enough natural gas in Texas to meet this growing demand? We are sitting, in this country, on massive reserves. We use, in the oil business, two numbers to talk about reserves. One is proven reserves and the other is technically recoverable reserves. We have proven reserves and then we have a greater amount of technically recoverable reserves. Natural gas in this country, we have about 25 or 30 years of proven reserves and we have nearly 100 years of technically recoverable reserves.