With the price of gas at a historic low, major industrial users such as power plants, are converting from coal to natural gas. According to data obtained from the EIA, natural gas use for power generation rose 7 percent between 2009 and 2010, and those numbers continue to climb.
At the same time, the natural gas companies are moving to export large quantities of natural gas overseas to Europe and Japan where natural gas commands a higher price. The federal Department of Energy is currently considering applications from American natural gas companies that would allow them to export as much as 16 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Should these permits be granted, the EIA estimates that the average consumer’s gas bill would increase substantially, depending on how much of the commodity is actually exported.
And, as if that weren’t enough, the natural gas companies are also moving to cut production in an effort to drive prices upward. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas, announced that it would cut daily production by eight percent. The paper noted that, “the move is designed to reduce the glut of natural gas in the U.S., and therefore increase prices.”
Like Bob Dylan once said, you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, and in this case, the wind is clearly pushing natural gas prices upward as the industry moves to restrict supply in the face of increased demand from both the domestic industrial sector, and foreign markets willing to pay higher prices. Given those conditions, the industry’s claims that an expensive conversion to natural gas will quickly pay for itself is revealed for what it is –a bunch of hot air– and the message is clear; don’t believe the hype.
Roy Patterson is the Executive Director Delaware Valley Oil Heat Council.
Thomas Tubman, Executive Director
American Energy Coalition
Michael Ferrante, President
Massachusetts Oilheat Council
Kevin Rooney, CEO
Oil Heat Institute of Long Island
Matt Cota, Executive Director
Vermont Fuel Dealers Association
Michael Trunzo, President & CEO
New England Fuel Institute
Eric DeGesero, Executive Vice President
Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey
Thomas Peters, CEO
Empire State Petroleum Association
George McQueeney, President
National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals