Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Quest for Energy Independence and The Golden Age of Gas

The United States is preparing for the Golden Age of Gas.  Gas in this case is natural gas.  The revolution in natural gas is a function of advancing technology - - namely hydraulic fracking.  New activity has increased dry shale production in the U.S. from 0.39tn cubic feet in 2000 to 4.8tn cubic feet in 2010, or 23% of U.S. dry gas production.  The United States has a 40 year supply of natural gas at current consumption levels.

Companies are beginning to see the Golden Age of Gas.  The New York Times reported yesterday that URS (a construction and engineering firm) was purchasing the Canadian energy firm, Flint Energy (URS To Acquire Flint Energy of Canada by Evelyn M. Rusli).  Flint is engaged in the various stages of exploration and development of natural gas and oil resources.  The North American oil and natural gas market has had a flurry of deals in the last 12 months.  More and more people and organizations are seeing a future with natural gas.

The article highlighted our Golden Age of Gas with the following:

"We were interested in a North American play," Martin M. Koffel, the chief executive of URS, said in an interview on Monday.  "We wanted to add oil and gas to our mix and wanted a company large enough that it could be its own division."

Mr. Koffel said that the rising support for energy independence in North America would lead to a boom in the oil field services industry.  He estimates that capital investment in Canada's oil sands industry will total $180 billion over the next 10 years.

Our Golden Age of Gas is important in two regards.  The first is that our half-century supply of natural gas needs to serve as a transition source of energy.  From the Golden Age of Coal/Oil to the Golden Age of Renewables - - we need another 50 years of science and engineering to get this correct.  The second is that the Golden Age of Gas needs to help wean the U.S. off the geopolitically risky Middle East.  I filled up yesterday at around $3.67 a gallon.  Projections are for gasoline to hit $5.00 per gallon this summer.  If Israeli F-16s actually start to knock on the front door of Tehran this spring (The "if" and "why" questions have become the "when", "who", and "where" questions), we are going to wish we had entered the Golden Age of Gas much sooner.

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