Supply Chains

Trend: Natural Gas Is Hot, Hot, Hot

Despite the political kerfuffle over Obama administration loan guarantees for new nuclear generating plants, the ubiquitous hand-wringing about fossil fuels and climate change, and the hype about wind and solar renewable power generation, the new reality of natural gas may be a game-changer. To wit:

  • According to a New York Times business blog, Royal Dutch Shell and China’s PetroChina have made a $3.3 billion bid for Australia’s Arrow Energy. The Aussie firm is a major player in coal bed methane in the country, which is already a major exporter of liquefied natural gas to China.
  • Hundreds of new gas drilling rigs are prowling over major portions of the U.S. and Canada, looking to exploit shale resources, according to the Edmonton Journal. The Hughes rig count has grown by 320, compared to 200 last year, and is up 23 for the first week of March, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, according to Reuters, says her regulatory agency is concerned about the water pollution that might come from the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing technology, which is used to unlock natural gas from shale deposits previously unreachable by conventional gas drilling technologies.
  • Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports, has announced legislation, with the backing of the state’s environmental groups and the dominant investor-owned utility, Xcel Energy, to convert “several” coal-fired power plants on Colorado’s “Front Range” (east of the Rockies) from coal to natural gas by 2017.
  • Despite the failure of his West Texas wind-gas parlay, oil patch maven T. Boone Pickens says he remains convinced that natural gas is the transportation fuel of the future. He outlines his views in an interview in the Wall Street Journal.
  • The presumed abundance of gas from shale formations across the U.S. could derail plans for a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline to bring gas from Alaska’s north slope south to U.S markets, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

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