shale gas investments to increase with rise in oil prices

More than 64 percent of energy executives expect crude oil prices to exceed $121 a barrel in 2011 and, in response, plan to invest more in alternative energy, including shale gas, renewable energy and clean coal. That's according to the 9th Annual Energy Survey conducted by KPMG Global Energy Institute. The survey shows executives predict shale oil and gas to have a transformative effect on helping to meet the world's energy needs.

"Energy leaders tell us continued volatility will be driven by underlying issues such as regulation, geopolitical concerns and supply disruptions, as well as escalating energy demand," said John Kunasek, national leader of the KPMG U.S. energy practice, and executive director for the KPMG Global Energy Institute. "But the good news is that energy executives tell us they are significantly increasing investment in a range of alternative energy sources and see shale factoring strongly into meeting the world's future energy needs."

The survey polled 550 financial executives from global energy companies in April 2011. According to results, 32 percent think 2011 U.S. crude oil prices will peak between $121 and $130 per barrel; 17 percent predict prices between $131 and $140 per barrel; 9 percent between $141 and $150; and 6 percent expect crude prices to exceed $151 per barrel before year end. Around 35 percent think crude prices will be between $111 and $120 per barrel, their level when the survey was conducted.

Because of the expected increase in oil prices, 35 percent of the executives polled said their company would increase research and development investment in alternative energy projects in 2011, up from 15 percent in the 2010 survey. That includes investment in shale gas/oil (44 percent of executives); solar (31 percent), wind (25 percent), clean coal (17 percent) and battery storage and fuel cells (8 percent of executives).

In addition to investment in alternative energy, 33 percent of executives said they expect capital spending to increase more than 10 percent over 2010 levels, 17 percent predict an increase between 5 and 10 percent and 17 percent predict an increase of up to 5 percent. Sixty-nine percent anticipate operating costs to increase in the next 12 months.

Fewer than half--49 percent--of executives predict they will begin hiring more workers in the next 12 months. That was up two percentage points from 2010. Survey results show 25 percent of respondents said their workforce would increase up to 5 percent, 13 percent said the increase will be between 5 and 10 percent and 11 percent said their company will likely increase their workforce by more than 10 percent.

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