The anticipated rebound in natural gas and other energy prices and exchange traded funds (ETFs) this year never really arrived, but analysts are keeping their optimism high heading into the new year.

Optimism that the oil and gas industry will bounce back in 2010 remains elevated. Natural gas prices plummeted in 2008 and demand waned, and have yet to recoup the losses. So, why get excited about what 2010 may bring for the energy sector, and natural gas specifically? [Energy ETFs go under the microscope.]

  • This month, the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions did a survey of oil and gas professionals recently in which 84% of the respondents said that the natural gas industry’s best days still lie ahead.
  • By 2015, natural gas is expected to be the most widely-used fuel source.
  • 85% believe natural gas production will increase in the next five years.
  • Industrial production is improving, boosting demand for natural gas; 30% of the fuel’s use comes from the industrial sector.
  • A large decline in electric power sector consumption of natural gas in 2010 is projected to more than offset natural gas consumption growth in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, reports John-Lauret Tronche for Fort Worth Business Press. [Where energy prices could be going next.]

Meanwhile, retail gas prices are set to hold steady through the end of the year, while crude oil prices inched slightly higher. At the pump, California’s average gasoline price rose for the first time in seven weeks, but by a mere 0.9 cents to $2.912 a gallon for regular. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular fell a cent to $2.589, reports Ronald D. White for The Los Angeles Times.

January may reveal a slower than average time, as the hangover from Christmas credit card bills sets in. Overall the holiday season was slower than usual, with many Americans not going anywhere to celebrate the holidays. [Other ways to play oil.]

For more stories about oil and gas, visit our commodity category.

  • iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil and Gas Exploration (NYSEArca:IEO): up 44.6% year-to-date

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