The US is drowning in natural gas, yet they keep drilling and fracking

LNG ship
CC BY 2.0 LNG Rivers/ Pine on Wikipedia

There is so much that they can't burn it here, so they compress it, liquify it, and ship it. That's not working out too well either.

These are crazy times, when we know that fossil fuels are cooking the planet but hey, there is money to be made. There are few things crazier right now than the natural gas industry, where American producers are fracking so much gas that they can't sell enough of it in North America. So now they are building Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and trying to export it. Except nobody wants to buy it; according to Ryan Dezember in the Wall Street Journal,

Natural-gas prices in Europe and Asia have plummeted this year to historic lows in the midst of reduced demand, the trade dispute with China and brimming storage facilities in Europe. The biggest driver of falling prices, though, has been the U.S. gas that is spilling into global markets. “It was inevitable,” said Ira Joseph, head of global gas and power analytics at S&P Global Platts. “There is simply too much supply coming into the market at one time.”

Five LNG facilities have opened in the US since 2016, shipping out 6 billion cubic feet of gas every day. But international demand is dropping; China has cut off imports as part of the trade war, and Japan is reducing imports as nuclear reactors closed after Fukushima come back on line.

Natural gas is touted as a cleaner, "bridge" fuel, but fracked gas has its own hidden carbon footprint, with massive methane leaks. According to a new study, "This recent increase in methane is massive. It's globally significant. It's contributed to some of the increase in global warming we've seen and shale gas is a major player."

Then there is the actual process of turning natural gas into LNG. It turns out to take a big chunk of the gas. Gas company Total writes:

To become a liquid, natural gas must be cooled to -163 Celsius in a process that requires a considerable amount of energy. Several cryogenic units equipped with huge turbocompressors are needed to compress and then expand propane in order to generate cold energy that is transferred directly to the feed gas to be cooled. As a result, a liquefaction plant can use up to 10 percent of the feed gas to pre-treat and cool the gas to be exported.

It's crazy. Here we have drilling companies producing gas nobody needs or wants locally, causing massive releases of methane in the process, so they then try and sell it internationally, and nobody wants or needs it there either. Energy is wasted liquifying it and shipping it. The worry now is that natural gas prices will go even lower because the drillers planned for the LNG consumption. But they will just keep drilling and flaring and giving, just to keep busy.

This craziness is not just in the USA; watch this video from Alberta, Canada, where the oil and gas industry is treated as the savior of the country, except the Americans won't pay enough for it and foreigner-supported environmentalists are fighting it, so we need more pipelines to ship more oil and gas across the country and to export markets. Never mind that since fracking started, their oil is not competitive in any market, and we are awash in cheap American gas.

This is why we are so screwed; nobody is willing to just turn off the taps, and people believe this stuff.

The US is drowning in natural gas, yet they keep drilling and fracking
There is so much that they can't burn it here, so they compress it, liquify it, and ship it. That's not working out too well either.

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