The natural gas industry likes to paint itself as the hero in America by producing homegrown energy that frees us from Middle East imports and takes money away from "Islamist terrorists" who then use our money to fight against us. They claim that we have an abundant supply of natural gas that will last 60-200 years (depending upon who is talking and the audience they are trying to convince.) During his brief run for the GOP Presidential nomination Texas Governor Rick Perry actually claimed that we have a 300 year supply of natural gas "right beneath our feet."
There is just one problem - supply and demand. Even at today's low domestic price for natural gas there is a glut in the marketplace that depresses rates and reduces profitability for the gas producers. That is suppressing new exploration and preventing an ever-increasing growth in supply that will only further depress market rates. But, the gas industry has a solution to that - sell their product to China and India, both of which pay $11-12 per mcf for the same gas that currently sells here for $2.40-2.50 per mcf.
What is wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing selling our natural gas to China and India depletes that "60-200 year" supply that is supposed to be our bridge fuel to the future when, hopefully, we will have green, sustainable, renewable energy sources that wean us off fossil fuels. For another thing, selling that gas to China and India is helping those countries thrive in a market where they are taking American jobs in manufacturing, which has been the backbone of our economy since the industrial revolution, and the one thing that propelled the United States to its position of prominence in the world. But, the gas producers who claim to be patriotic Americans working to provide "freedom from foreign energy dependence" are looking to corporate profits as their true motivation, and they are selling us out for a lot more than "thirty pieces of silver."
A recent article on the Oregon Live website, linked below, tells the story of how facilities in that state are trying to convert from importation to exportation because the owners of those facilities recognize the vast profits to be made from shipping American and Canadian natural gas overseas. Below is a brief excerpt from that story. Click the link to read the entire article.
Published: Saturday, July 16, 2011, 1:00 PM - Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2011, 3:04 PM
By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian
Two years ago, energy companies trying to build terminals to import liquefied natural gas to Oregon laughed at the notion of using their projects instead to export burgeoning supplies of U.S. and Canadian gas to lucrative markets in Asia.
The idea, LNG backers said, was a conspiracy theory concocted by environmentalists and landowners who didn't want pipelines laid across public and private lands. Today, those opponents can safely remove their tinfoil hats. The glut of natural gas in the United States coupled with the low market rate of $2.40-2.50 per mcf is far below breakeven, and far below what China, India and other places in Asia and Europe will pay for our natural gas - the very same gas that is supposed to give us "energy independence from the Middle East." Instead of keeping our gas here to supply America's energy needs gas companies are more interested in maximizing corporate profits and shareholder equity. Their claims of drilling as patriotic and for the long-term benefit of our nation are proving to be false claims made by people who care less about America's energy security than they do about person profits.
If natural gas producers and LNG terminal backers have their way, Oregon could become a significant hub in exporting domestic gas to Asia, joining a nationwide push that could have a meaningful -- and according to critics, disastrous -- impact on the price of natural gas for U.S. consumers. The same thing is happening at LNG terminals in Texas, Louisiana and other places that heretofore served as import terminals.
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