Oil and gas markets have experienced significant changes during the past two years. Between crude oil moving from $146 to $33 in less than five months and gas going from nearly $14 to $3 over the course of a year, the past 18 months have been incredibly volatile to say the least. Adding insult to injury, the state of the capital markets has left many producers without access to much needed capital.

In these times of significant change and uncertainty, it is essential that oil and gas producers employ solid hedging and marketing strategies. These strategies will not only allow producers to survive the most challenging times, but will also allow them to excel in the best of times as well.

Houston-based EnRisk Partners, an energy hedging, trading and risk-management advisory firm, recently surveyed 38 U.S.-, Canada- and Australia-based small and midsize independent oil and gas producers about hedging activity in 2009.

The primary focus of energy risk management as it relates to oil and gas producers is hedging.

Consequently, this subject forms the basis of this study, which strives to analyze the current hedging practices and strategies of producers. Some of the key survey findings are:

–41% of study participants regularly hedge their production, while 29% never hedge.

–Only 13% are required to hedge by their lenders and/or investors.

–The majority of the participants that hedge on a regular basis stated that, on average, they hedge between 51% and 71% of their current PDP (proved, developed, producing) volumes.

–36% of the participants stated that their CEO or CFO makes the company’s hedging decisions.

–Swaps and collars are the most popular hedging instruments among the study participants.

–Only 34% of the participants indicated that establishing stable and predictable cash flow is the most important goal of their hedging activities.

–67% said they would characterize the success of their company’s current and past hedging initiatives as good or excellent.

—Mike Corley

About the Author: Mike Corley is the founder and president of EnRisk Partners LLC. He can be reached at 713-844-6384 or via the firm’s website: www.enriskpartners.com.

Click for Corley’s full report, "2009 Crude Oil & Natural Gas Hedging Study:” enriskpartners2009hedgingstudyresults.

For more on current hedging trends in E&P, look for the upcoming article, “Hedging Horizon,” in Oil and Gas Investor’s April 2010 edition at OilandGasInvestor.com.