NATURAL GAS……….. THE FUEL OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Natural gas has emerged as the most preferred fuel and vital component of theworld’s supply of energy due to its environmentally cleanest, safest and most useful nature, greater efficiency and cost effectiveness among all energy sources.Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbon gases. In its purest form, such as the naturalgas that is delivered to your home, is almost pure methane.

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Growing importance: We require energy constantly, to heat and cook food, and generate electricity. Due to clean burning and lower emission levels of potentiallyharmful byproducts into the air as compared to other fossil fuels, the importance of natural gas in our lives is growing constantly. The demand of natural gas has sharplyincreased in the last two decades at the global level. In India too, the natural gas sector has gained importance, particularly over the last decade, and is being termedas the fuel of the 21st Century.The industrial and electricity sector accounts for the greatest proportion of natural gas use across the world. The US residential sector consuming the second greatestquantity of natural gas.

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Global Production: According to U.S. Department of Energy, globally total provedreserves of natural gas is 6,254.364 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in 2009 with an increase of0.68% as compared to 2008. Russian federation has largest reserve of 1,680.00 tcffollowed by Iran and Qatar with 991.600 and 891.945 tcf reserve respectively. Russiais largest producer of natural gas with 23 tcf followed by USA with over 20 tcf. Majorexporters of piped natural gas are Russia (154 bcm), Canada (103 bcm) and Norway(93 bcm), the major importers are US (104 bcm), Germany (87 bcm) and Italy (75bcm). The major exporters of CNG are Qatar (40 bcm), Malaysia (29 bcm), Indonesia(27 bcm) and the major importers are Japan (92 bcm), South Korea (36 bcm) andSpain (30 bcm.)

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Production in India: Natural gas production in India grows at averaging 11.7percent per year. Total production is estimated to grow from 1.1 trillion cubic feet in2007 to 2.7 trillion cubic feet in 2015. Most of the production of gas comes from theWestern offshore area. The on-shore fields in Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat States are other major producers of gas. Fertilizer (41%) and power (37%) are themajor users of natural gas in India.

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Factors affecting demand for Natural Gas: There are two primary drivers thatdetermine the demand for natural gas in the short term-Weather and Fuel Switching.Natural gas demand typically peaks during the coldest months for heating homes anddips during the warmest months, with a slight increase during the summer to meetthe demands of electric generators. Hurricanes and severe weather also disrupt the supply.

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While most residential and commercial customers rely solely on natural gas to meetmany of their energy requirements, some industrial and electric generationconsumers have the capacity to switch between fuels. For instance, during a periodof extremely high natural gas prices, many electric generators may switch from using natural gas to using cheaper coal, thus decreasing the demand for natural gas.

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Generally the state of the U.S. economy can have a considerable effect on thedemand for natural gas in the short term, particularly for industrial consumers. When the economy is expanding or declining, the consumption of natural gas fromindustrial sectors is generally increasing or decreasing at a similar rate.Long term demand factors reflect the basic trends for natural gas use into the future.The analysis of factors that affect long term demand across all sectors arecomplicated.

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Probably the most important long term driver of natural gas demand isfuture residential heating applications. Due to the retirement of old nuclear,petroleum, and coal powered generation plants leaves a significant requirement fornatural gas use for electric generation to meet the commercial demand forelectricity generation and transportation.

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Outlook: Currently the future prices of natural gas in MCX are trading in sidewaysmanner. It has strong support at `170. Seasonal demand from mid oct can support therecovery upto `220 in mid term.

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