Natural gas could save us all this winter

More natural gas production could make winter heating costs drop.


According to recent reports , American natural gas production is rising at a clip not seen in half a century, pushing down prices of the fuel and reversing conventional wisdom that domestic gas fields were in irreversible decline.

The new drilling boom uses advanced technology to release gas trapped in huge shale beds found throughout North America—gas long believed to be out of reach. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, releasing less of the emissions that cause global warming than coal or oil.

A report released in late July by the American Clean Skies Foundation indicates that the United States may have much more natural gas than previously believed, and that in turn earned praise and caution from a spokesman in the natural gas industry.

"This new report is exciting documentation that natural gas from shale holds great potential for future U.S. supply,” said R. Skip Horvath, president and CEO of the Natural Gas Supply Association. But he noted that in June the federal government reported that global energy demand is expected to increase 50% in the next two decades.

Rising production of natural gas has significant long-range implications for American consumers and businesses. A sustained increase in gas supplies over the next decade could slow the rise of utility bills, obviate the need to import gas and make energy-intensive industries more competitive.

The American Clean Skies Foundation study also pointed out that the United States may have anywhere from 88 to 118 years worth of supply of natural gas at present consumption rates, thanks in large part to the natural gas industry's ability to extract natural gas from areas that were once considered uneconomic.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., Oklahoma City, for example, has over the past seven years increased natural gas production nearly sixfold. Chesapeake's average daily U.S. natural gas production in the second quarter was 2,328 million cubic feet, which was 9% more than BP's output and 25% greater than Anadarko's.

According to the most optimistic estimates, Haynesville Shale in Appalachia could produce up to 245 trillion cubic ft equivalent of natural gas, enough to supply the entire U.S. for a decade.

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