(Bloomberg) -- In the hydrocarbon-rich fields of Texas, natural gas was always treated like the dregs that crews had to deal with as they pulled oil out of the ground. The two often emerge from wellheads together, and so for decades drillers would simply burn off the gas or sell it at cost. Oil, and all the riches that came with it, was always the big prize.
Now, in a sign of just how much Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown global energy markets into disarray, it’s natural gas, not oil, that’s becoming more coveted in US shale fields. With Europe desperately seeking alternatives to Russian gas that powered furnaces and electricity grids, prices are skyrocketing and US drillers are scrambling to extract, liquefy and ship more of it overseas.
US energy companies are expanding the search for gas at the fastest pace since 1992. Domestic prices for the fuel already have climbed more than 80% this year and the bullish drivers don’t appear likely to fade any time soon: record domestic production isn’t keeping up with surging demand at home and overseas.