Once every two years, a little-known committee conducts a very important study. The Potential Gas Committee (PGC) estimates how much natural gas we can recover from U.S. deposits.
Currently, the U.S. uses 26.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) each year.
That’s a lot of gas.[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]Fortunately, the PGC’s 2014 year-end estimate for recoverable gas is 2,515 tcf… or 2.5 quadrillion cubic feet.
Can investors make any money on all this natural gas? You bet. But more on that in a moment.
At our current rate of use, we’ll have enough gas to last 94 years. Again, that’s based on the PGC’s latest study.
In recent years, every time the PGC has estimated natural gas reserves, the number has increased.
In 2011, the PGC estimated we had a mere 1,898 tcf. Then, in two years’ time, they “found” another 486 tcf, bringing the total up to 2,384 tcf. This latest report tacks on an additional 131 tcf.
The gas has been there all along, of course. It’s just that our technical ability to recognize it’s there keeps getting better. So does our ability to produce gas at a very reasonable price.
After he read the latest report, David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, had a few words for policymakers…
Shale gas presents an opportunity to reignite America’s economic engine. Thanks to shale, the U.S. has rapidly transformed from a nation preparing to import natural gas to meet our domestic needs to one that now leads the world in natural gas production.
In 2012, shale gas made up 57% of the total PGC estimate. In 2014, it jumped to 61% of the total.
I’ll bet the next report will show shale gas makes up even more of the total. Why? Because as our technology improves, more gas becomes available to us. That’s the way technology works.
Spigelmyer makes a good point. Cheap, plentiful homegrown fuel is a big plus.
This is especially true for the manufacturing sector. Many companies use natural gas to produce things like steel, aluminum and other materials that require heat. It’s the main ingredient in some fertilizers and many chemicals.
And, don’t forget, natural gas is so cheap and plentiful here in the U.S. that other countries are building manufacturing plants here.
So, what’s the best way to invest in natural gas? I like pipeline master limited partnerships (MLPs). These companies focus on gathering, processing and moving gas around.
One of my favorites is MarkWest Energy Partners L.P. (NYSE: MWE).
MarkWest has a big focus on the Marcellus and Utica shales. It also pays a very nice distribution yield of 7.65%. As more and more gas comes from those two shale plays, MarkWest will only grow and increase its distributions.
Natural gas is here to stay and will gradually replace both coal and crude oil as a low-carbon alternative. Every investor should have some exposure to natural gas in his or her portfolio – especially in this low-price environment.
Source: Investment U