Natural Gas in the U.S. Economy: Opportunities for Growth [November 6, 2012]   [open pdf - 1002KB]

"Due to the growth in natural gas production, primarily from shale gas, the United States is benefitting from some of the lowest prices for natural gas in the world and faces the question of how to best use this resource. Different segments of the U.S. economy have different perspectives on the role natural gas can play. Suppliers, which have become the victims of their own production success, are facing low prices that are forecast to remain low. Some companies that have traditionally produced only natural gas have even turned their attention to oil in order to improve their financial situation. Smaller companies are having a difficult time continuing operations and larger companies, including international companies, have bought into many shale gas assets. Prices have remained low even as consumption has increased, in part, because producers have raised production to meet the demand and because companies have improved efficiency and extraction techniques. Some companies, many with large production operations, have applied for permits to export natural gas. This has raised concerns from consumers of natural gas that domestic prices will rise. The debate regarding exports is ongoing. [...] Over the next five years, many of the issues being debated now may be decided. The industry and market are adapting to the newly found supplies and the concerns associated with them, as well as integrating more natural gas into the economy. There are many evolving issues some of which Congress can influence directly because of statutes and some indirectly. On the demand side, legislation has been introduced regarding exports of liquefied natural gas and alternative fuels for vehicles. There has been other legislation related to environmental regulations of natural gas."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42814
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