I spoke at the Major Energy Users Council annual conference in London on Tuesday, where we reminded each other how three years ago I gave a presentation on shale gas and they thought I was mad. Back then, by the time I got to the US potential for LNG exports from terminals built to import, they had started to look for the guys in white coats, at a time when few even in the US were predicting exports. Just a few months later high US government sources were telling me about the Cheniere export. The sources still can't be named, but they took pains to point out their passing the news on should tell me something about the chances of approval.

That's just one reason why I've been saying US LNG imports are coming, even as other LNG exporters, their customers, and even many Americans, said  the chances of exports were unlikely, with US regulatory approval being stumbling block number one. The underlying logic was that exports would cause higher domestic prices.I've pointed out that US farmers aren't forbidden to sell their crops because the price of US food will go up. The basic principle is that free trade enriches sellers in other ways that counter marginal price affects that are no different from those that appear everyday on spot markets.

The US Department of Energy has just released a report to study the impact of US LNG exports. Not only the NERA consultancy recommend they proceed, they pointed out the overall benefit to the US economy grew with exports. While wholesale prices would rise slightly the more that was removed from the US market, the creation of $30 billion export market at the top end was greater than creating an $11BN market at the cautious end. A Platts story gives the big picture, the big report is found here.

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  • [I]the UK's issue is that we can't think big. [/I] <br /><br />Not sure I'd agree. It's more like we can't think straight. The thought process seems to be: "Fossil fuels Bad, Wind turbines Good!"
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  • Andy

    As always good stuff of what is going on with shale.<br /><br />Are the antis getting more [S]desperate[/S], we, [I]inventive[/I] with their anti shale arguments lately? <br /><br />I have read in the past week that:<br />Cracking shale will lead to a new method of nuc...
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The noble part of UK's energy policy was founded on the need to cut CO2, but for those who don't believe in climate change (unlike myself), a high gas price narrative was constructed to make high prices palatable. Consumers continue to be told any short term subsidy for nuclear, carbon capture and renewables or efficiency will pay for itself because international gas prices only ever go up. Gas prices go up because world demand will chase a dwindling resource base, and most especiallly, Asian demand for LNG that is not only rare but linked to oil prices will push up import costs for the UK. This view is still the official version at DECC, Ofgem and the Confederation of British Industry. Those are three insitutions that should be informing the energy debate in a realistic way but aren't. They still remain, as they should, influential to others, so groups like the Insitiution of Mechanical Engineers or the major supermarket chain I spoke to recently repeat to me that China will suck up all the gas in the world narrative, but the supermarket  wavered when I pointed out the emerging China shale gas story.

China as a boundless energy sink sucking up LNG by the tanker load isn't happening even pre-shale gas. It's true that Asia buys almost 2/3 of world LNG and thus has an influence on UK LNG prices, but it's Japan, not China that is the price setter. Numbers are from 2011, Billion Cubic Metres and are taken from BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012.

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  • Here is a significant step away from oil-linked prices, reported by Natural Gas for Europe:
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  • roger

    China produced and consumed 4,700TWh in 2011 and most of the relevant energy agencies estimate this will increase to nearly 10,000 TWh by 2030<br /><br />How much natural gas would you need to generate the extra 5,300 TWh of electricity? 1,060 BCM! Wow<br /><br />The good new...
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  • roger

    Anyone who thinks china will import huge quantities of energy is just mistaken its just an impossibility to be a super power and dependant on energy imports.<br /><br />Simply put there is no way in the medium term china will want to be a big importer of energy it just cant do that and b...
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The Co-op ICM and You Gov polls on shale highlighted in the Guardian earlier this week confirmed my suspicions that the energy debate in the UK outside of shale is open to all sorts of misconceptions, misunderstandings and just plain ignorance.  

The YouGov poll showed that 55% of people want more windfarms, compared to just 17% who want more gas power stations. It also showed that less than one in three people thinks the government should give the go-ahead to fracking. RenewableUK's deputy chief executive, Maf Smith, said: "Support for renewable energy is consistently strong, in this and other independent polls. One stark message from this survey is the public's evident disenchantment with fossil fuels, including the unpopularity of fracking."

This hostility show that the shale debate is now poisoning conventional natural gas as well, which should mean that the entire natural gas industry, including Gazprom and Qatar also need to get involved.  The reality is shale gas molecules can be no more removed from anyone's natural gas supply than one can choose to buy petrol that only comes from the North Sea and doesn't include any refined from Iranian, Venezuelan, Nigerian or anyone else's product.

Although we have yet to produce so much as a molecule in Europe, the time is fast approaching when US shale gas as LNG hits Europe in massive quantities. The moral choice for the shale antis will then be that if they truly believe that Pennsylvania is being poisoned, then they should put their money where their mouth is and stop using natural gas to heat homes or cook food and boycott all businesses that continue to use "just another fossil fuel"

This slide from Bentek Energy at the Platts LNG Forum earlier this month shows the current state of US LNG exports. It was only two years ago that Cheniere Energy proposed exporting shale to LNG from the Gulf Coast and at the time, the conventional wisdom said it would never happen:

I am not sure the economics work out in Cheniere's favor," said Zach Allen at Pan Eurasian analysts in Raleigh North Carolina.

"Cheniere is either projecting some change in the market that is going to force LNG prices up to oil parity or it doesn't work."

But since then Cheniere have actually started construction on two trains, and has proposed four more.But they are not alone with multiple LNG projects on the horizon. We can certainly expect that not all of them will make it, just as few of the projected import terminals in 2004 ever reached Final Investment Decision

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  • Andy

    What's been the big deal in the UK about shale gas, US coal, and carbon prices?<br /><br />Several weeks ago a quote you had from a Russian energy analyst got me to looking at EIA stats on coal exports and I was amazed to see how much US exports have grown in the past year. I thought so...
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  • martinbrumby

    jim south london<br /><br />Absolutely agree. You'll never make even one Grauniad true believer see common sense. Because very likely he has a financial interest (through keeping his parasitic job) in NOT believing common sense.<br /><br />The greenie activists and a lazy and...
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  • jim south london

    "One stark message from this survey is the public's evident disenchantment with fossil fuels, including the unpopularity of fracking."<br /><br /> When i was at Battle of Ideas (yeah i know yawn) Stephen Bull from Stat oil said the Shale Boom has taken off in America because of "Persona...
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A key reason why Ed Daveys's assertion that gas prices will rise is unlikely is the impact of shale gas.  Not necessarily UK shale gas unfortunately, but  North American. Davey's view remains fairly widespread in the UK, informed only by Centrica/Ofgem, remains of volatile expensive gas which makes the various schemes lining up for handouts appear competitive. Despite everyone in North America, and increasingly Asia,  seeing a future of permanently cheap natural gas  the Chatham House thinking that shale is going to suddenly evaporate and we'll wake up with no gas is taken seriously because the reality of permanently cheap natural gas is too horrible to contemplate. People like DECC are in denial: They don't  get cheap natural gas because they don't want to. They'll come around, as Gaprom has.

I talked a while back about the Liard Shale, which joins the Montney and Horn River Shales in British Columbia in massive volumes of gas.  

The find by Apache Corp., one of three partners in the $4.5-billion Kitimat LNG terminal and pipeline proposal, is estimated to contain enough gas in itself to justify doubling the size of the Kitimat terminal. The company is calling it the best and highest quality shale gas reservoir in North America and says its wells are the most prolific in the world, based on the volume of gas three test wells are producing.