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LNG ? America's Next Energy Problem

The U.S. demand for natural gas is growing faster than friendly Canada can supply the resource. Over the next decade, the U.S. will look to less hospitable places to get it like North Africa, the Middle East, and Russia. The future prospects for LNG has Capitol Hill and energy experts wondering if the U.S. won't face the same political dilemmas as it currently does with crude oil.

Like crude oil deposits, natural gas deposits are found in corrupt political places such as Nigeria and Venezuela. And, the prospect of being held prisoner by small, unstable governments has a high probability, unless the government creates a long-term energy policy for the importation of LNG.

The U.S. currently imports approximate 57 percent of its crude oil and 16 percent of its natural gas consumption, and nearly all of it comes in by pipeline from Canada. According to the Energy Department, by 2025, the U.S. will be consuming 37 percent more gas, or 31.2 trillion cubic feet, compared to 22.8 trillion cubic feet in 2002.

Today, 75 percent of the known global gas reserves are in Russia and the Middle East. LNG terminals are currently being built in Qatar, Nigeria and Trinidad. Today, Indonesia is the largest exporter of LNG, and most of its customers are in Asia.

Without question, natural gas is beginning to have an impact on U.S. foreign policy, and last year, the Energy Department organized a conference in Washington for energy ministers of liquefied gas exporting countries. Some say that brining Libya in from the cold has a lot to do with its vast gas reserves, which are much larger than its crude oil reserves.