Shale gas is profitable despite low gas prices: RIL

Last Updated: Sun, Apr 22, 2012 19:51 hrs

Reliance Industries’ $3.5 billion investment in shale gas businesses in the US has begun to bear fruit. The company in its quarterly presentation to analysts said shale gas was profitable despite low gas prices.

The shale gas revenue in fourth quarter stood at $250 million, while profit after tax stood at $30 million and Ebitda stood at $200 million.

"Management has indicated that despite low gas prices in the US, shale gas business is profitable due to higher liquid production at 43 per cent," said Amit Mishra, senior vice-president (energy) and Prashant Tarwardi, assistant vice-president (energy), at Enam Securities, in their report.

RIL on its website says there is a seven-fold increase, in its share of gross production on a year-on-year basis. Its joint venture with Pioneer, at present, is operating with 12 rigs. The company drilled 32 wells last quarter. “With net share of gross production at 4.6 mscmd in the fourth quarter, Poineer JV's ramp up is focussed on liquid production,” said an analyst.

Gross field capex stood at $372 million with cumulative investment of over $2.14 billion.

RIL's Chevron joint venture, at present, is operating with five rigs with gross production rate of 2.3 mscmd, of which RIL's share stands at 0.9 mscmd. The field's gross capex was $178 million during the quarter.

RIL began gas production from its Carrizo JV in the third quarter. However, it is cautious over development related activities due to low gas prices. Capex of the field stood at $73 million during the quarter with cumulative investments of $590 million so far.

According to a recent report by Nirmal Bang, the US produced two per cent shale gas in 2000, and its contribution to the US natural gas output increased to 25 per cent in 2011. The International Energy Association estimates this ratio to touch 46 per cent by 2035. The US gas production is estimated to grow 24 per cent over 2010-35.

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