1. Ukraine has fields of shale rocks
that the U.S. Geological Survey estimates will hold enough gas to fire the eastern European nation for 100 years or more
. Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron -- three of the world’s four largest oil companies -- bid last week for Ukrainian exploration rights.
2. Royal Dutch Shell is in the preliminary stages
of feasibility and design work
on a potentially huge, $10 billion, 2 million gallon per day Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) facility in
Louisiana, using abundant natural gas feedstock. This development is important for several reasons: it validates the long-range forecast of persistently high
volumes of economical natural gas.
Since the plant would not enter
production until 2014 at the earliest, a gigantic, experienced GTL and
gas producer must be confident that natural gas prices will remain a
relative bargain, and that this will continue for a long time into the
life of the plant.
3. Britain may have enough offshore shale gas
to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers, energy experts now believe, and while production costs are still very high, new U.S. technology should eventually make reserves commercially viable.
4. Houston-based Cheniere Energy
is one of a number of companies that plan to export surplus U.S. gas. For global
energy markets, that is a change of potentially huge proportions. This development could recast a world gas trade long dominated by a
handful of energy superpowers – countries including Russia, Qatar and
It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this shift and its
consequences for the business model of the big gas suppliers. Not
only will US exports be cheap – they could also be plentiful. Eight
projects with a total export capacity of 120m tonnes a year have been
proposed, according to Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy. If all are
approved and built, the US could become one of the world’s biggest LNG
HT: Jon Murphy