Back in February, I predicted that Asian energy companies would steal the spotlight from their European counterparts this year in the ongoing amazing shale race. That's pretty much what's happened as the year has progressed. The particulars have diverged a bit, though, so let's have a look.

I tapped Korea's national oil company, KNOC, as a likely participant. It turned out to be KNOC compatriot Korea Gas Corp. (Kogas) that has stepped up to the shale plate. Kogas is the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas, so, duh. The firm cut a deal with Canadian gas giant Encana (NYSE: ECA) earlier this year to earn into three British Columbia shale gas assets. Kogas has a large offtake agreement in place for the future Kitimat LNG project in British Columbia co-owned by Apache (NYSE: APA) and EOG Resources (NYSE: EOG), so the Korean gas king has a keen interest in seeing production ramp up in the area.

Another firm I highlighted as a likely shale gas entrant was India's ONGC. Again, I got the country right, but picked the wrong powerhouse.

Reliance Industries, India's largest company, has turned out to be far more active on the shale front. As I noted in a July article focused on Encana's growth spurt, Reliance arranged joint ventures with both Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD) and Atlas Energy (Nasdaq: ATLS) earlier this year. In August, a third JV followed, with Carrizo Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: CRZO) in the Marcellus shale. Now, Reliance is rumored to be courting Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) as a partner in the Eagle Ford play down in southern Texas.

This would be a great score for Chesapeake, but what's good for the firm may not be great for the North American natural gas industry as a whole. Every time a deep-pocketed investor steps in to fund one of these massive shale plays, the amount of gas supply that's impervious to short-term price declines increases. A key mechanism keeping production growth in check when prices decline is thus kept from functioning. That greatly hurts the marginal producer.

Fortunately, there are gas-focused E&Ps out there that are profitable at today's depressed prices. You'd best stick with them.

Chesapeake Energy is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profileor follow his articles using Twitteror RSS. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.