Natural gas has the power to "rock the world," according to The Wall Street Journal. We have generations of supply of this clean energy resource, and we are now the world's biggest producer.
The newfound abundance of natural gas has gotten a lot of people's notice, from Pulitzer-prize winner Daniel Yergin to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winner himself. The vast new supplies of natural gas thanks to U.S. shale plays mean that there is enough natural gas available at lower prices to power and heat our homes and businesses and run our vehicles for generations to come.
And stable, abundant supplies mean stable markets, making natural gas an increasingly attractive option for power generation, transportation, industrial and residential uses.
Here's what the experts are saying about the long-term outlook for natural gas supplies:
"Natural Gas Resource Assessment" (April 2011)
"The United States possesses a total resource base of 1,898 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as of year-end 2010. This is the highest resource evaluation in the Committee's 46-year history, exceeding the previous record-high assessment by 61 Tcf... When the PGC's results are combined with the U.S. Department of Energy's latest available determination of proved dry-gas reserves, 273 Tcf as of year-end 2009, the United States has a total available future supply of 2,170 Tcf, an increase of 89 Tcf over the previous evaluation."
"Fueling North America's Energy Future" (March 2010)
"A major new factor-unconventional natural gas-is moving to the fore in the US energy scene and the national energy discussion,' Cambridge Energy Research Associates says. Natural gas ``has the potential, at least, to cause a paradigm shift in the fueling of North America's energy future." Shale gas accounted for only 1 percent of US natural gas supply in 2000; today it is 20 percent. By 2035 it could be 50 percent, CERA says.
"The Future of Natural Gas" (June 2010)
"Abundant global natural gas resources imply greatly expanded natural gas use, with especially large growth in electricity generation,' MIT said in its interim report on natural gas. ``Natural gas will assume an increasing share of the U.S. energy mix over the next several decades, with the large unconventional resource playing a key role.'
"The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies has made it possible to produce shale gas economically, leading to an average annual growth rate of 48 percent over the 2006-2010 period. Shale gas production continues to increase strongly through 2035... growing almost fourfold from 2009-2035."
(TCF/year, projected to 2035)
Source: Annual Energy Outlook 2012
In its 2009 "Fueling the Future" report, Cambridge Energy Research Associates forecasts that "the power industry will likely increase the share of natural gas in the fuel mix because of the carbon footprint of natural gas-fired generation and because it can be built more quickly and easily than coal, nuclear, or hydro and will benefit from credible expectation of lower long-term natural gas prices."
Utility companies today can be confident that lower cost attainable, domestic natural gas will be in their business plans for many years to come. Here are a few reasons why:
Thanks to dramatic increases in shale gas development in recent years, North America today has enough natural gas to power our nation for generations. Learn more about natural gas abundance here.
New shale gas resources have altered the supply outlook in three key ways:
The new resource areas are predominately onshore, making them generally less difficult and costly to develop than offshore resources, and most importantly, eliminating hurricane-related supply interruptions-one of the historic causes of price volatility.
As domestic natural gas supplies have increased dramatically in recent years, the interstate pipeline infrastructure has responded with a corresponding rapid expansion. Enhanced pipeline infrastructure reduces regional pricing disparities and helps ensure nat gas is an energy supply we can count on for supply reliability.
There are more than 2.5 million miles of energy pipelines in the United States. That's enough to circle the earth 100 times. This includes:
Since mid-2008, more than 7.0 Bcfd of new pipeline infrastructure has been added, with commitments to an additional 8+ Bcfd within the next three years. And, since 2000, more than 200+ Bcf of new working gas storage capacity has been added to increase daily deliverability to meet peak demand requirements--giving our nation a total storage capacity in excess of 4.0 Tcf.
Geographic supply diversity, coupled with robust pipeline infrastructure development, has not only improved the ability to quickly move natural gas where it is needed, but has also mitigated regional price disparities andoffers end-users a more transparent and competitive gas supply market. Ongoing development will further these positive supply trends.
LNG import terminal capacity is now more than 10 bcf/day, well in excess of current requirements of about 1.5 bcf/day, ensuring access to expanding global natural gas production and liquefaction capacity if needed in the future.
These developments are all important factors in eliminating the likelihood of future natural gas price supply disruption and assuring price stability in the new age of natural gas. As a result, many analysts predict the market will see greater use of long-term contracts between natural gas suppliers and high-volume customers
Collectively, our new gas resources are good news for energy consumers on multiple fronts: greater energy and economic security; a robust, flexible, and reliable portfolio of supply choices; and more stable, predictable prices.