Natural gas is used in considerable amounts to feed world's
thirst for energy. Natural gas is also an important raw material for ammonia,
plastics and various other chemicals - and eventually it feeds us as the
fertilizer industry and industrial agriculture turn natural gas into our food.
World reserves of natural gas are estimated to last 60–70
years. So the problem is not there in the next quarter, next year or next decade.
However, USA's demand of natural gas exceeded the productive capacity in 2002
and the natural gas prices have skyrocketted ever since. Despite all the efforts
to increase the capacity, the demand will be 15% higher in 2010 [Hydrocarbon
It is easy to predict high natural gas prices also in the
future at least in USA. Also it can be predicted that Alaska will not be
untouched and LNG ships will be sailing Atlantic Ocean.
As a chemical engineer I would like to prolong the natural
gas era as long as possible and save natural gas to chemical industry (food,
medicine, construction etc). Hydrogen powered cars are a real threat for natural
gas. Luckily it seems that hydrogen use will be limited to small scale
applications such as laptop computers.
Large scale hydrogen economy would mean that natural gas
resources will be used for hydrogen production. The most economical way of
producing hydrogen is from fossil fuels, the best being natural gas. That is why
96% of hydrogen today is produced from fossil fuels. Why not use these resources
more efficiently (directly) to energy, or why not save at least natural gas to
chemical industry or to the next generations?