Our energy woes may soon be behind us. The newest issue of Foreign
Affairs magazine includes an upbeat report on the large amounts of
natural gas that are now economically feasible as alternative energy sources. "This development is an
unmitigated boon for consumers interested in affordable energy,
environmentalists looking for energy sources that emit less carbon
dioxide than either oil or coal, and governments that hope to reduce
the political and market power of today's major oil- and gas-producing
countries," writes John Deutch
Deutch predicts that natural gas will eventually take the place of oil
and its increased availability may result in regional gas markets
merging "into a more integrated and open international gas market with
a single price."
The large number of potential sources of
usable natural gas will create more competition and, in effect, lower
prices. "No longer, it seems, will the world be dependent on a few
nations--Iran, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan--that
control the bulk of conventional natural gas reserves,” proclaims
Deutch. Rob Reuteman
CNBC.com has also taken note of the approaching natural gas boom, but
warns that two key problems may stand in the way of natural gas’s
1) Washington is focused on renewable energy and many
regard natural gas as a "bridge fuel to ease the country's transition
from foreign oil and dirty coal to carbon-free energy powered by wind,
solar, biofuel and nuclear sources." But, according to Reuteman,
natural gas experts argue that natural gas is actually a more viable
investment than renewable energy and fear that the government might
miss the boat while concentrating on the wrong product.
abundance of of natural gas will mean lower prices, but consistently
low prices could prevent the natural gas industry from making a profit. "The clear winners (besides users of natural gas) will be the companies
that enable the production, like drillers, machinery manufacturers,
infrastructure companies, service providers, etc.," stock analyst Alan
Brochstein explains to Reuteman.
Despite these potential
setbacks, Deutch and Reuteman agree that the rise of the
environmentally-friendly natural gas industry, which is cleaner and
more efficient than burning other fossil fuels, will mean exciting
change in the next few years.
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