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PAIR-O-GRAPHS: Okay so how cheap is U.S. natural gas, really?

Scott Tong Jun 20, 2012

Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing how American natural gas is our next global economic ATM. Or, on the other side of town, how the extraction process — fracking — fundamentally threatens our wellbeing.

Check out this chart, from BP’s highly cited Statistical Review of World Energy 2012. Catchy name, no? But the charts alone are worth the admission price. Compared with the rest of the world — where prices are zooming hockey-stick northeast — U.S. natural gas is a steal. And the graph doesn’t even reflect the plummeting prices of 2012 that have many producer balance sheets black and white and red all over (does the name Chesapeake Energy ring a bell).

North America’s natural gas glut, thanks to the industrious entrepreneur George Mitchell , has proponents crowing about U.S. energy security, opponents fretting about environmental risk. For its part, the fact-minded International Energy Agency hedges out loud with a question mark: are we entering a golden age of gas?  


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