Investors aren't too excited about natural gas these days.
The lack of enthusiasm is understandable, with front-month NYMEX natgas prices having sagged below $4/mcf.
But another group globally seems to be looking at gas with mounting interest. Governments.
A few data points. The Ukrainian government said today it will encourage foreign companies to explore for gas in the Black Sea shelf. The government said such gas development would be "a major improvement in our energy security."
This seems to be a developing theme. The government of Trinidad and Tobago announced this week it is suspending development of the $600 million Alutrint aluminum smelter. Previously it was envisioned that Alutrint would be fueled by Trinidad's abundant natural gas reserves, providing an affordable solution to the energy-intensive aluminum smelting process.
Explaining the move, the government noted that it has serious concerns as to whether aluminum-making is "the optimal use of our gas." Domestic consumption and LNG export may be higher priorities.
Peru is yet another case in point. The nation's first liquefied natural gas export facility came online in June, and is now on track to ship 4.4 million tonnes of liquefied gas per year.
But the development has caused a storm of protest, with some Peruvians objecting that gas is being shipped to other countries without provisions to ensure adequate supply for domestic users. The government is now looking carefully…