Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nice try US government, we're still not buying natural gas

Two weeks ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article with the headline: "Natural-Gas Data Overstated". Apparently, the Energy Department has for some while been screwing up its statistical projection for natural gas and significantly overestimating the country's gas supplies.
Basic economics tells us that when demand stays constant and supply diminishes, prices go up. And according to this report, supplies, in fact, have diminished, albeit somewhat artificially. And how did the market react? It didn't:
Other than that spike the day of the announcement (April 5) natural gas investors apparently couldn't care less about the US Government's overstated inventory figures.
This highlights the fact that in the US we have access to about as much natural gas as we could ever want. Granted, a lot of it is underground, but unless gas stocks were actually low (like, in danger of running out) knowing that our stocks are slightly less than previously thought doesn't actually affect the price. At some point, the functional supply of gas changes from a number of mmBTUs to the categorical figure "plenty". If we got to a point where we were consuming enough natural gas to see stocks diminishing the gas drillers could ramp up production so quickly that no blip would be seen.
So, nice try government, but the market knows better.

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