Market dynamics will override politics and the job creation and economic stimulus effects of the gas industry will prevail in the years ahead regardless of the outcome of this fall’s presidential election, according to panelists at the LDC Gas Forum’s Midcontinent meeting in Chicago Monday.

Bentek Energy’s Jack Weixel, who previously spent seven years working in Washington, DC, thinks the natural gas market is strong enough to stay “relatively independent of government regulation.”

A change of administrations wouldn’t have much impact on the demand side, Weixel said. On the supply side, the Obama administration could add some costs for producers in the drilling sector, but overall “the natural gas industry is doing a good job in Washington, DC, in promoting itself as a job-creator and economic engine for growth.”

Some other panelists also downplayed the overall impact the upcoming presidential election could have on developments in the various shale plays. But Bill Wince, Chesapeake Energy vice president of business development, offered the caution that politics is very much involved in two areas potentially impacting the industry’s future: federal air emissions regulations and liquefied natural gas exports.

All the panelists agreed that the Utica Shale is the nation’s next big natural gas play and promises to transform upper Midwest markets. With the continuing deployment of drilling rigs away from dry gas to oil and wet gas plays the supply-demand situation will come more into balance. Production will stabilize while demand, particularly in power generation and the industrial sector, should continue to grow.

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