In the early 1950s, my family formed a corporation exclusively for the purchase of natural gas properties — a sector we believed would be at the core of a future fuel revolution.
It was a major investment for us at the time. And it prospered.
But the expected fuel revolution was still many years away. So, as I explained here last week, we decided to take our profits and come back another day — a day when all the stars would be in alignment for a major new opportunity.
Before he passed away, Dad and I often talked about what kind of global event would most likely trigger the fuel revolution. But we never imagined it would happen quite the way it did.
By a strange coincidence, the trigger event occurred just last year in the country that was my primary major area of study in grad school: Japan.
And by an even stranger coincidence, the very first American eyewitness to report on the event to the global media was my own son, Anthony, who lives in Tokyo.
It was the morning of March 11.
I woke up around 4 AM Eastern Time and read the headline online in a Los Angeles Times story:
8.9 QUAKE KILLS HUNDREDS IN JAPAN
“Oh my God!” was my first thought.
“OK. The epicenter is far from Tokyo. But 8.9 on the Richter scale?! That’s catastrophic! WHERE IS ANTHONY?”
To my great surprise, the article itself gave me the exact answer just a few paragraphs later:
“Anthony Weiss, a 29-year-old from Florida studying Japanese in Tokyo, was on a train when the quake hit, shaking his passenger carriage sharply back and forward. ‘People covered their heads with their bags as dust and small debris fell,’ Weiss said. ‘Something sprung a leak, as there was a lot of water on the platform. … People were scrambling for the doorways. The aftershocks are continuing even now.’”
It turned out to be one of the most shocking disasters in modern history — the massive earthquake, the gigantic tsunami, and multiple meltdowns that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Thankfully, Anthony and his host family in Japan are fine!
And although some radioactive material was released into the atmosphere and water, their life is mostly back to normal.
But the nuclear disaster — the largest since Chernobyl — has had a dramatic impact on the country’s energy policy:
Last June, a poll of Japanese citizens conducted by Asahi Shimbun found that 74% of respondents wanted the government to ultimately decommission ALL 54 of the country’s nuclear reactors.
So in October, the Japanese government responded by proposing a dramatic long-term reduction in the nation’s reliance on nuclear power.
And already, when it comes to nuclear enrichment, Japan has virtually shut down its facilities.
The key question:
How Does the World’s Third-Largest Economy
Compensate for Such a Huge Loss of Energy?
Solar and wind power? No.
They are simply too new and too small to fill the gap. As Weiss Research’s Sean Brodrick told us last week, those technologies won’t be viable on a large scale for years or even decades.
The only solution: Natural gas.
And sure enough, in the 11 months since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster …
• Japan’s electric utilities have all switched to natural gas.
• The country has ramped up production at power plants fired by natural gas. But Japan’s domestic production is able to meet only 4% of the country’s demand!
• As a result, Japan, already the world’s largest single importer of liquid natural gas (LNG), has had to ramp up its imports even further.
Predictably, Japan’s increased demand for natural gas has driven up prices, as illustrated by this chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) …
Here’s the fascinating picture it paints:
Not long ago, Japan’s average import price was under $8 per million British thermal units (BTUs). Now, it has DOUBLED to $16!
By comparison, the average spot price for natural gas in the United Kingdom and continental Europe is about $12.
But even $12 is still FAR higher than the price in the U.S., where natural gas was recently hovering near the $4 level.
That’s about one-third its cost in Europe and one-FOURTH its cost in Japan!
How Long Can This Huge Discrepancy Last?
Given new technologies to more easily ship natural gas overseas, not long!
In fact, just this past Friday, natural gas prices rocketed 6.3% higher — ON TOP OF its 5.9% surge on Thursday. That’s over 12% in just 48 hours!
The main reason U.S. natural gas prices have been so low in recent years: The same reason we see such an opportunity in the fuel — its abundance.
Official estimates place the amount of technically recoverable natural gas in the United States at 482 trillion cubic feet. In 2009, the U.S. extracted 96 billion cubic meters of the fuel, overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer. In 2010, output surged to 142 billion cubic meters. And in 2011, even further!
Why such a huge jump in U.S. production?
Because of new technologies and techniques that allow for more effective extraction, cheaper transport, and more efficient use of natural gas.
And now, just when investors were beginning to say “natural gas will stay cheap forever,” global demand is surging … and not just in Japan!
China imported 12.2 million metric tons in 2011, worth approximately $5.8 billion, despite the fact that it’s sitting on a supply of shale reserves three times larger than that of the U.S.
You see, China hasn’t been able to match the natural gas boom in the United States because its supplies are generally deeper underground — locked up in rocks that have a higher clay content, making the fuel harder to extract.
Meanwhile, natural gas demand is rising on every continent on the planet except Antarctica.
Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Korea are stepping up imports steadily and often dramatically.
Everyone is quickly waking up to the fact that crude oil alone simply cannot meet their energy demands — and that other sources are simply NOT commercially viable.
THIS is the new fuel revolution my family first anticipated over a half century ago.
THIS is the revolution that I alerted you to right here one week ago.
And this is why we recommend you pay very close attention to the natural gas opportunities Sean Brodrick is bringing to your attention.
Good luck and God bless!