"There Is Not Enough Gas Around"

Utilities and households are pushing natural gas demand into the danger zone

Natural gas is hot these days. Just ask the folks at Houston's Apache Corp. In January, the gas-and-oil independent shelled out $119.5 million for drilling and operating rights to properties in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. At the time, the company planned to drill about 30 wells there this year. But that was before natural-gas prices took off like a rocket. Now, Apache plans 150 wells. Tack on its other properties, and the company expects to sink 436 holes this year--a 236% increase over 1999. Nearly three-fourths of the projects are aimed at finding natural gas.

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