One of the most plentiful resources we have in the United States is our huge above and below ground supplies of natural gas. Data from more than 24,000 recently drilled wells show the U.S. has 890 trillion cubic feet equivalent of recoverable natural gas, said Manuj Nikhanj, head of energy research at brokerage ITG Investment Technology Group Inc. (NYSE: ITG) in Calgary. That is a staggering amount. And after years of study, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a study that examined increased liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. That study revealed the net positive impact increased exports would have on the economy.
Naturally, those benefits increase as the level of exports increase. Obviously increasing exports would raise domestic pricing. The DOE estimates that increase could range from 0.22 to 1.11 per mcf (million cubic feet). That would affect American consumers, but the DOE study concludes the impact would be minimal compared to the large positive economic impact, as it expects an additional 15 LNG export projects. These projects include LNG pipelines, liquefaction plants, export terminals and more. With an abundance of skilled American workers looking for jobs, any labor induced delays would be minimal.
Currently the world LNG shipping market totals about 360 bcf (billion cubic feet) per year. If all the U.S. projects with pending applications are approved, the market would increase by 220 bcf per year, an increase of more than 60%. The world thirst for LNG increases yearly. One of the largest customers is and will remain Japan. Prior to the Fukushima earthquake of 2011, Japan generated 30% of all its power from nuclear sources, and it was looking to raise that amount to 40%. Of the 54 nuclear plants that operated prior to the earthquake, only two remain in operation.
So where will the money be made? Analysts at Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE: JEF) think the pure play shipping companies are a good place to look. Golar LNG Ltd. (Nasdaq: GLNG) and GasLog Ltd. (NYSE: GLOG) look to be large beneficiaries from the approval of additional U.S. LNG export projects. An additional plus in owning these names is their solid dividend, with Golar LNG yielding 4.55% and GasLog 3.62%. This gives you some breathing room if for any reason projects are delayed. With a potential increase in world shipping of 60%, you do not want to miss the boat
Lee W. Jackson
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