Natural Gas Is Waiting for You

Natural gas begs your forgiveness.

If carbon molecules could speak, voices from the vapor would be reassuring Fools that the sector conceals opportunity beneath the rubble of a nearly $10 price collapse from a frothy 2008 peak.

Epitomized by the embarrassing margin call that forced Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) CEO Aubrey McClendon to liquidate his entire stake in the company, the ride down has been gruesome. With supplies still plentiful despite a sharply reduced rig count, prices could yet take some time to recover. In the meantime, select income-generating names within the midstream component are moving right along like gas through a pipeline.

Pipeline purveyors Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMP  ) and Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP  ) have joined forces to construct two strategically situated interstate gas pipelines in two separate joint ventures. A pipeline to connect the Fayetteville Shale of Arkansas to the broader grid won't be completed until early 2011, but the other new construction became fully operational August 1: the aptly named Mid-Continent Express.

The pipeline will carry product from the Barnett and Bossier shale regions to eastern markets, and it will provide back-up capacity when tropical storms halt movement through the Gulf Coast infrastructure. Continuing to build through this massive market disruption, these high-yielding income generators have generated some meaningful organic growth. Kinder Morgan, Energy Transfer Partners and related offering Energy Transfer Equity (NYSE: ETE  ) each carry dividend yields above 7%. Just as they did before the natural gas collapse, these companies still offer an alluring pipeline to income and growth.

While contract drillers like Nabors Industries (NYSE: NBR  ) were notably impacted by reduced production effort, the storage component of midstream services provides a cushion from the reduced flow volumes. Revenue from these new pipelines, furthermore, has been locked in by multi-year contracts. Southwestern Energy (NYSE: SWN  ) and BP (NYSE: BP  ) have already inked 10-year commitments for the upcoming Fayetteville Express.

For managing to grow while the industry contracted around them, and for paying attractive dividends all the while, I continue to view the midstream operators like Energy Transfer Partners as solid plays on a gaseous fuel.

Further Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Christopher Barker reminds Fools to avoid campfires in the vicinity of any pipelines. He can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns no shares in the companies mentioned. Chesapeake Energy is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

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