The increase in fracking, a method of extracting natural gas by forcing sand, water and chemicals under high pressure into underground shale beds, has vastly increased the availability of natural gas. Increased availability means decreased costs, which in turn means increased demand. The cost of natural gas will increase to some degree if demand continues to rise. However, because of the estimated vast reserves of gas obtainable via fracking and the relative low cost of the operation, the rise is expected to be minimal compared to average oil prices.
Natural gas prices might increase if environmentalists, concerned over the carbon released by burning natural gas, have their way. Just as coal has been plagued by environment regulations, that have increased the cost of using coal to produce electricity, so might natural gas be given the same treatment. Gas, by its nature, burns cleaner than coal, but it send, potentially âwarmingâ carbon into the atmosphere, making it more of a concern for those alarmed by the prospect of global warming. Furthermore, fracking has already come under attack as being an environmentally unfriendly practice, purported to be capable of poisoning water reserves, releasing unacceptable levels of carbon in the transportation of the sand, water and chemicals used and even prompting earthquakes.
Perhaps the biggest complaint against natural gas is that its low price and increasing availability put it in direct competition with renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, and hydro and geothermal. For now, the lower cost and the increased revenue that natural gas deposits offer is welcomed by consumers and state governments.
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