This year's Summer NAPE, held at the George R. Brown conference center in Houston in late August, was bigger than ever. For those who haven't had the opportunity to attend, this is the junior version of "Big NAPE," a major prospect show held in the beginning of the year. Summer NAPE featured an impressive variety of prospects, from gas shales (lots of Marcellus and Haynesville deals) to shallow oil ventures. I noticed a definite shift toward oil prospects, not a surprising trend given the continued strong prices of that commodity. Permian Basin oil plays were everywhere! Natural gas futures have weakened considerably of late, thanks to strong storage injections and swelling supplies from unconventional plays. A wildcard is the impact of hurricanes, and talk on the floor centered on the possible path and strength of Gustav. Still, most explorers consider the long-term outlook for natural gas prices to be high enough to continue aggressive development of a variety of shale and tight-gas plays. There weren't as many "Sold" signs posted during this NAPE meeting as I've seen in the past, but the mood was upbeat and exhibitors seemed happy with the booth traffic. --by Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor