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Natural Gas: Is the US Squandering Its Big Advantage?

A look at what could be the next commodity boom...

THE RECENT pullback in many commodities has caused most investors to worry that perhaps the boom in commodities is over, writes Sasha Cekerevac of Investment Contrarians.

Because of austerity and fiscal tightening around the world, countries and companies are reducing the amount of money they're spending, which is much like the behavior of a consumer who has run out of credit and is consequently reducing his or her spending.

This will certainly have a negative impact on the commodities super cycle we've seen over the past decade. However, there is an investment opportunity that can benefit both the US and Canada, and that opportunity is in the natural gas market sector.

Remember, when making an investment, one must understand what the advantage is for a market sector. Both the US and Canada have a massive amount of natural gas in comparison to the rest of the world—that is our competitive edge.

This is providing a huge investment opportunity over the long term for the natural gas market sector. Both the potential to export natural gas and the ability of companies to use natural gas as an input will create a massive investment opportunity relative to other markets in the world.

Spot prices for natural gas have certainly rebounded from the lows of 2012, yet the commodity trades at a fraction of the price on the international market. Spot markets for natural gas in Asia can be four to five times higher than those in America.

Additionally, over the next decade, there will be increased demand for natural gas globally, as it is a cleaner fuel alternative to other possibilities, such as coal. With countries like China trying to reduce pollution, this certainly seems like a strong long-term investment opportunity for the natural gas market sector in America.

However, to maximize the potential of this investment opportunity, America needs to begin exporting natural gas. As long as America prevents this commodity's export, any market sector that uses natural gas as an input will benefit, because domestic prices will be far lower than international levels.

If America does change its regulations and begins to allow for the export of natural gas to the global marketplace, this will be an extremely strong investment opportunity, because the arbitrage between international markets is huge.

The liquid natural gas market in Asia is set to increase by 83% between 2010 and 2020, compared to the US domestic gas demand that is set to increase by only 11% during the same time period, according to a special report by the Financial Post.

If the US doesn't take advantage of the global market demand, other countries, such as Canada, might step in and profit from this long-term investment opportunity. It is clear that demand will continue to increase globally for natural gas, and US domestic prices are far below global levels. The question is: will the administration open the door to this investment opportunity? Only time will tell.

Until that point, firms using natural gas as an input, such as chemical firms and many manufacturing companies, will continue to benefit from using the investment opportunity of having extremely low input costs. This could change substantially if firms within the natural gas market sector are allowed to take advantage of the huge arbitrage investment opportunity currently available. Over the long term, I think natural gas prices are set to continue rising.

Investment Contrarians is a free financial e-letter whose editors believe the US stock market and the economy have been propped up since 2009 by artificially low interest rates, never-ending government borrowing and an unprecedented expansion in the money supply. They question 'official' unemployment and inflation numbers and argue that rapid inflation caused by huge government debt and money printing will see interest rates, which have seen a quarter-of-a-century of falls, begin a new upwards cycle.

See full archive of Investment Contrarians.

Please Note: All articles published here are to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it. Please review our Terms & Conditions for accessing Gold News.

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