Slumping natural gas prices are poised for a rebound as natural-gas fueled electricity grows and exports of the fuel expand, experts from research firm IHS said during an energy conference in Houston Wednesday.

The research firm sponsored a three-day forum that ends Thursday at the  Westin Memorial City hotel in West Houston.

The power industry is projected to grow 14 percent by the end of the decade, with more than 60 percent of the new capacity fueled by natural gas, said Jone-Lin Wang, vice president of power and gas for research firm IHS.

The sharp growth in natural gas production,  driven by shale exploration, has prompted power utilities to replace coal with natural gas to fuel generators. Natural gas combustion produces less greenhouse gas than coal, and its abundance has made gas prices competitive.

Increasing natural gas exports also will exert upward pressure on prices as more export facilities receive permits and come online.

Bob Ineson, managing director of North American Gas for IHS, predicted domestic gas will reach $5 per million British thermal units by the end of the decade — although the costs of overseas transportation will result in continuing price spreads between domestic and international natural gas  prices.

U.S. natural gas closed Wednesday at $3.71 in New York trading.

The recent surge in U.S. natural gas production also has driven a boom in petrochemical manufacturing, which uses gas as a fuel and feedstock, said Mark Wegenka, managing director for chemical consulting at IHS.

He  said petrochemical companies plan more than $100 billion in capital investments for facilities by 2025.

John Larson, vice president of economics for IHS, said the surge in production from shale and other unconventional oil and gas sources will add 1.7 million more jobs across the country in directly and indirectly related industries.

He said New York alone has added 44,000 jobs as the boom in drilling has increased business for insurance and other supporting industries.

Larson predicted that the shale revolution will add about 3 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product.

Sourced From Fuel Fix