The United States is blessed to sit upon huge deposits of natural gas. The total amount of gas has been estimated to be 2500 trillion cubic feet. This is enough natural gas to supply America's needs for 125 years at current consumption if the logistics challenges can be met in the operation of its extraction and shipping.
Nature has distributed the natural gas in three areas. Onshore in the lower 48 states is ½ of the gas. Offshore areas have another ¼ of the gas with the last ¼ being in the State of Alaska.
Now one thing that has to be considered when looking at statistics is that they can range from totally factual to totally speculative. The United States Energy Department has the natural gas reserves at a little over 300 trillion cubic feet. This is because there is a difference between a deposit that can be economically recovered and one that's there but can't be economically recovered. The Energy Department also relies more on data in areas of proven reserves given from companies extracting that energy. Like the cartoon with the article, just because you know where it is, doesn't mean you can or will get it. To be fair; however, this measuring system has always vastly underestimated both oil and natural gas reserves and technology's potential.
One of the exciting jobs being opened up in the area of natural gas is shipping the product as a liquid. The liquefaction process involves removing impurities that would hamper the cooling of the gas as it's condensed into liquid at 161 degrees below zero. When it is cooled, it has more than 2 times the energy density of compressed natural gas.
The natural gas is shipped many ways. 7 % of the world's trade in natural gas involves shipping it liquefied in vast double hulled cargo ships. When it' delivered on land, it's delivered by pipeline as a gas, the easiest and cheapest way to ship it. However, sometimes geography and topography make gas lines impossible to lay for delivery at the point of use. Then the natural gas is piped to mini-plants where it's liquefied close to where the gas is needed and then trucked out.
On a parity basis, natural gas that's liquefied is cheaper than petroleum usually. It's also consistent in its pricing because the United States is both politically stable and functions under a free system of economics unlike Mid-East oil states and countries like Venezuela where socialism damages the functioning of oil operations through a system of nepotism and a freeze in technological innovation as the smart and motivated vote with their feet and leave. Also there's no natural gas cartel in the United States inflating prices.
Ironically, given United States' energy needs, there's liquefied natural gas designated to be shipped overseas to China from the United States. This is because China has huge, growing energy demands and the capital to purchase gas contracts and invest in gas exploration in the United States. Though Congress has raised an uproar on Chinese energy purchases in the U.S. before, the U.S. has very few products actually subject to export controls, so this ire has been selective.
So there's a growing need for workers in the natural gas field. Whether in the drilling part of the process or the shipping end. Especially in Pennsylvania where a no-tax Governor promised no new taxes whether personal or business during his election campaign. Being that Pennsylvania sits upon part of perhaps the largest natural gas reserve in the world, this is good for gas drilling, distribution and employment.
Jeffrey Ruzicka is a retired executive of a small company that specializes in industrial water treatment. He lives happily with his wife in Western Pennsylvania and is a contributing writer to LogisticsJobSite, LogisticsJobSiteBlog and Nexxt.