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Independent Gas Producers Ally to Promote Industry

March 2, 2009
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Some of the nation's top independent producers will come together in Houston in mid-March to formulate an action plan for the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), whose goal is to brand and market natural gas as not only the cleanest domestic resource, but also the most abundant resource available today.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., Devon Energy Corp. and Newfield Exploration Co. have signed on, along with more than 20 other producers, said ANGA President Rod Lowman. He estimated that ANGA's current membership companies comprise at least 40% of total U.S. gas supply and produce a total of about 8 Tcf a year.

"Over the last several years, the natural gas industry has found vast deposits of gas in new resource plays," Lowman said. "Utilizing these resources for our country's energy needs will help to improve air quality, create thousands of American jobs and reduce our growing dependence on foreign oil. We will work hard to get our message heard by policy makers, end-users of our product and the American public."

The ANGA's formation appears to have come at an opportune time.

"Companies are calling every day" to join, Lowman told NGI last week. "After the first organizational meeting, we'll know a lot more...I can tell you that it already is a good mix of large and small independents. We're getting a lot of interest in this..."

ANGA wants to lead the charge to promote "the benefits and the abundance" of domestic gas supplies, Lowman said. "The realities of the world we are in today are not the same as they once were...We're in a different place than we were before."

The Obama administration has called for less dependence on foreign oil and a switch to more environmentally friendly fuels (see related story). Natural gas, Lowman said, is an obvious choice.

Newfield CEO David Trice, who was tapped to chair the group, said ANGA wanted to "increase market appreciation" for U.S. gas and to explain how the onshore reserves offer a "dependable solution to the most challenging energy and environmental issues."

The idea of forming a producer-led gas group came about in December at a get together of producers, said Lowman. What they wanted was an organization whose only focus was on the benefits of gas and the strength of U.S. reserves.

ANGA's mission sounds similar to the American Clean Skies Foundation, which was formed in 2007 with Chesapeake's backing to promote natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (see NGI, April 20, 2007). However, the ANGA doesn't want to deviate from its one message: to educate policymakers and the public about natural gas, said the new president.

Basically, ANGA's first mission will be about branding and marketing, said Lowman. He previously was president of the Abundant Forests Alliance, which promoted the sustainability and renewability of U.S. forests and forest products. He also served previously as president of the American Plastics Council and was executive vice president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Under his leadership, the ACC led advocacy and public education campaigns to lift public opinion of the plastics industry to all-time highs.

"We take natural gas for granted," he said. "It just is what it is, and we don't think about it...We want to make natural gas part of the conversation, whether it's at home or on Capitol Hill."

Nothing is off the table long term for ANGA, said Lowman.

"There are so many opportunities...We will be talking about how natural gas can fit into the mix as a transportation fuel. We're talking about promoting CNG [compressed natural gas]...There are many longer-term opportunities and a lot of issues that are challenging the nation. Natural gas needs to be in the mix for power...for consumers. It has to be part of the infrastructure. Everything's on the table."

The Houston conference is to be private, Lowman said. For information about ANGA, contact Hill & Knowlton's Michael Kehs at (202) 944-5125.

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