Gas prices have dropped more than 30 per cent in two years as natural gas production has fallen.

    But the fall in natural gas prices has coincided with a rise in the price of crude oil.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) forecasts prices for gas for July will average $45.50 a barrel, down from $54.00 a barrel last week.

    It’s a big drop, but not enough to explain the recent decline in gas prices, said the ANU’s Dr Robert Wilson.

    “It is a long-term trend, it’s not an abrupt fall in the last couple of months,” he said.

    A fall in prices is not unprecedented, but it is notable given the global energy boom, he said, noting it was not a long term trend.

    Gas prices fell by $6.5 billion in August last year, but only about 1 per cent of the gas production loss.

    In the past two years, natural gas has also dropped more, the ABS said. 

    The fall in gas production is driven by natural gas fracking, the process that converts natural gas to a liquid form and then injects it into a well to extract oil.

    Fracking produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas.

    Gas prices have fallen for a range of reasons, but the most important reason for gas prices to fall has been the rise in shale gas production.

    US shale gas producer Pavillion, which has about $8 billion in assets under development, is the latest company to announce that production has slowed, with production dropping by around 10 per cent.

    But it’s the fall of the price for crude oil that is a big reason why prices have plummeted, Dr Wilson said.

    “The natural gas price drop has been accompanied by a sharp fall in oil prices,” he explained.

    Crude oil prices fell as low as $43.50 per barrel in the fourth quarter, before falling to a low of $42.60 in December.

    Pavillion is one of a number of energy companies that has reported their profits in recent weeks.

    Its chief executive, Peter Hildreth, said it had seen its net profit fall to $2.2 billion in the four months to December, a drop of more than $500 million compared to the same period last year.

    “Pavilion is experiencing the biggest annual fall in earnings in history and our financial performance is down to almost zero,” he told analysts.

    Other major energy companies, including Origin Energy, EnergyAustralia and Enel, have also seen their profits fall over the same time period.

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