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New Age of Natural Gas

June 2, 2015

While the past century may have been known as the age of coal, this century is likely to be named the age of natural gas.

Coal will remain one of the main sources of energy around the world for decades to come, but natural gas will gradually supplant it, because fracking has made natural gas cheaper to produce and because natural gas is cleaner.

The United States has been the leader in developing fracking, but other countries have shale resources and are seeking ways to utilize fracking.

Argentina has large shall resources and is beginning to develop them.

China is reportedly encouraging foreign companies to enter the market to develop shale gas using fracking.

China Shale Basins

China Shale Basins

China also has several LNG import facilities in place.

The UK is on the verge of developing its shale gas resources.

And the United States is preparing to unleash its huge resources of natural gas on the world.

The first liquified natural gas (LNG) tanker is to leave the Sabine Pass LNG export facility this December.

This will change the world forever.

It will mean that inexpensive natural gas, not tied to the price of oil, will be available throughout the world.

And the Department of Energy just approved the fifth export facility at Corpus Christie, Texas, scheduled to begin LNG shipments in 2018.

Bloomberg said, “Cheniere, the operator of Sabine Pass, expects the U.S. to produce 74 million metric tons of LNG by 2020. That’s about 22 percent of expected global output by 2019. Only Qatar and Australia will produce more.”

The United States has vast reserves of natural gas that can be released using fracking.

While natural gas rig counts are currently at around 220 they can be quickly ramped up to 300 or more as demand increases.

The Potential Gas Committee said, “The United States possesses a total technically recoverable resource base of 2,515 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as of year-end 2014. This is the highest resource evaluation in the Committee’s 50-year history.”

An earlier article explained why these reserves can supply all the United States requirements while still exporting natural gas for the rest of this century. See, Do We Have Enough Natural Gas?

Natural gas from the United States can disrupt the market in Europe, and displace expensive Russian natural gas.

Japan can turn to liquified natural gas (LNG) rather than coal for its power generation needs, as it has few reserves of either natural gas or coal.

As Argentina and China develop their shale gas reserves, most of the major economies of the world will be served by natural gas rather than coal, or any other energy source.

Countries such as Indonesia and India that have large reserves of coal are likely to continue to use coal for generating electricity, but most other major population areas will increasingly rely on natural gas.

Fracking, a technology developed in America, is changing the world.

And eventually, the huge supplies of natural gas found on the ocean floor as methane hydrates will be developed, continuing the age of natural gas into the next century, and possibly beyond. See, Natural Gas Bonanza from Hydrates.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. donb permalink
    June 2, 2015 10:42 am

    The growing US export of LNG could be short-lived if other countries develop their own fracking resources. NG in the US sells for under $3 per M-BTU. But it costs ~$3 to liquefy it for shipment and ~$2-3 to transport it by ship and re-gasify it. So, transport costs about twice the raw material in the US. As some other countries develop their own fracking, even if their processing is less efficient and more costly, they likely can do that more cheaply than receiving US LNG. Only where a country has no NG resource (e.g., Japan), or refuses to develop their resource (e.g. parts of Europe), may the US have a future LNG market.

    • June 2, 2015 11:41 am

      That’s a real possibility. I believe not many of the 19 proposed export facilities will be built. Their cost is immense, and if the foreign market becomes saturated the risk is too great.
      To your point, with an $8+ total cost to liquify and ship, the price has to be above $11/m-btu to make the projects worthwhile. The price had been around $15, but that’s dropped as the price of oil dropped.
      One projection I saw had the US with a 20% share of the LNG market in the next few years. An indirect result of LNG could be the de-linking of natural gas from the price of oil. This could help the US exploit the EU market and hurt Russia’s economy.

  2. donb permalink
    June 2, 2015 12:12 pm

    Russia is broadening its market and recently signed an agreement with China to furnish fossil fuel to them. That might give Russia greater power over Europe in defining future NG deals.

  3. Kenn Latzer permalink
    June 4, 2015 7:07 am

    This is great. I have 3 nat gas investments clne wprt and oxy, ,I love natural gas and wished we would more. I would love to have you talk about for the group, Kenn

    Sent from my iPad


    • June 4, 2015 8:18 am

      Be glad to, a week from now, on the 15th, if that works for you.


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