Thursday, April 9, 2009

Natural Gas: "From Russia With Love: Gazprom Gas Headed to California"

We are seeing a lot of stories about LNG coming to the U.S.
Here's a potential biggie via the WSJ's Environmental Capital blog:
The world’s largest gas producer and the world’s largest natural-gas market have finally come together. Gazprom and Shell announced a deal that will send gas from Russia’s far east to LNG terminals on the U.S. West Coast.

Granted, the volumes are tiny—one analyst figures the Gazprom shipments might make up about 0.5% of U.S. gas demand. But finding new customers and especially getting a foot in the U.S. market, the world’s most liquid for natural gas, has long been an aspiration of Gazprom.

Still, the deal does raise the question—does the U.S. need to import gas, especially from Russia? A big chunk of President Obama’s energy policy hinges on reducing dependence on foreign energy, especially oil. One of T. Boone Pickens’ latest television ads mocks Europe’s dependence on fickle supplies of Russian gas, contrasting that with the U.S., “where we have a choice.”

In recent years, U.S. domestic natural-gas production has exploded, thanks to new finds in previously hard-to-exploit areas. At the same time, demand for gas is plummeting because of the economic downturn. That combination has sent natural-gas prices to six-year lows; some analysts figure gas prices could halve again this year....MORE