Those who wish to invest in publically traded natural gas companies usually find themselves presented with a huge amount of rather confusing information on the topic, which can often serve as a deterrent to understanding, and therefore being able to analyse the sector. Here, Prashant Modi provides some simple explanations on the most common terms and concepts surrounding natural gas investments.
The term ‘reserves’ is often used by investors in this sector; this refers to the quantity of natural gas which an energy company has on its land. These hydrocarbon reserves are then categorised as possible, probable or proved. According to Prashant Modi, the most significant reserve category from an investor’s perspective is the ‘proved’ one. Proved reserves are defined as those which engineering and geological data have determined to be recoverable from the energy companies reservoirs, based on the current operating conditions, government regulations and economic methods. The economic viability of these proved reserves has to be based on the average price of them over the course of twelve months.
The majority of natural gas companies will present the amount of proved reserves in their marketing materials; however Prashant Modi says that investors should be aware that the prices the companies use may be based on different calculations, and as such should always be compared with the price of proved reserves of other companies before an investment is made. With possible or probable reserves, natural gas companies are usually given the option of disclosing the prices in regulatory filings however because there is uncertainty surrounding these two categories, Prashant Modi says that investors should not rely too heavily upon these figures.
Another frequently used term in natural gas investment circles is ‘reserves to production ratio’; this is the measurement of the amount of time it would take in years, for an energy company to produce all of its proven reserves. As a general rule of thumb, a higher ratio is more beneficial for an investor. Lastly, a term which Prashant Modi says all natural gas investors should know is ‘basis differentials’; this refers to the price discounts available in certain regions, which some companies experience during the process of selling natural gas to the market; these discounts are affected by many different factors including the quality of the natural gas, the regional demand, the capacity of the natural gas pipeline and the weather.