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"Natural gas may be having its day, as its rival energy sources come under a cloud.
The serious problems at the nuclear power plant in Japan have raised new doubts about the safety of nuclear energy. New exploration has yet to resume in the Gulf of Mexico after last year’s blowout of a BP oil well. And coal plants have been under a shadow because of their contribution to global warming.
Meanwhile, natural gas has overcome two of its biggest hurdles — volatile prices and questionable supplies. In large part because of new discoveries in the United States and abroad that have significantly increased known reserves, natural gas prices have been relatively low in the last two years.
Still, with the global demand for energy expected to grow by double digits in coming decades, analysts are anticipating a new boom in gas consumption. Given the growing concerns about nuclear power and the constraints on carbon emissions, one bank, Société Générale, called natural gas the fuel of “no choice.”
“At the end of the day, when you look at the risk-reward equation, natural gas comes out as a winner,” said Lawrence J. Goldstein, an economist at the Energy Policy Research Foundation. “It’s a technical knockout.”
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