2010 is the year of the unconventional play, at least that’s the impression I took away from NAPE. Eagle Ford gas/condensate plays in South Texas were top attractions, as were a wealth of new Niobrara opportunities across the Rockies, at the winter NAPE Expo 2010 in Houston last week.

Marcellus deals in the Appalachian Basin were also abundant. One exhibitor told me that last year his Marcellus-focused booth was standing room only, but this year’s traffic was slower yet steady and viewers were more serious about buying.

Many firms had expiring acreage, acquired not so long ago in the heady days of high commodity prices. Pitches to shoppers to take a quarter or a third of a deal were common, with a number of prospects partially placed but still needing one last partner to step up.

Overall, the mood was positive. Prospect generators have responded to the current disparity in value between oil and natural gas by focusing heavily on oil ideas and gas prospects with high condensate yields. Potential buyers seemed pleased with the quality of deals, and while booths were not festooned with as many ‘SOLD’ signs as in past NAPEs, most exhibitors I spoke to said they were seeing good interest and booking more detailed showings in the weeks to come.

And, of course, NAPE is always a great time to network and say hi to old friends.

--Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor