U.S. natural gas surplus stays put

A gasometer stands half-full of natural gas


Jeremy Hobson: All the talk of the high price of fuel have some people talking about natural gas, which is primarily used for electricity and home heating. Turns out technology has boosted natural gas production so much that there's a glut in the U.S. market. And drillers want permission to sell their surplus.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.

Eve Troeh: Drillers have figured out how to get natural gas quickly from U.S. shale, through a process called "fracking." There's so much that American companies now want to start exporting it. But, there's a problem.

Matt Smith: Well, currently in the U.S. there's 10 import terminals, and no export terminals at all.

Matt Smith is with Summit Energy. He says reversing the flow of the supply will take at least five years. Some groups don't want to start that process, because the U.S. may need more natural gas as the economy gets better. And if we send it overseas, it'll cost more here.

Smith says there's plenty to go around.

Smith: The U.S. is going to experience a reasonably low level of natural gas pricing for the foreseeable future.

The one thing that would drive up prices is more environmental regulation. While frackers push to export, they're also waiting to see if federal agencies will rein in the very practice that led to the boom.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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