Natural gas prices have dipped in 2015. They're trading at $2.71 per million BTUs as of March 3, for a drop of more than 22% from their December price of $3.50 per million BTUs.
But Money Morning's Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors says prices are headed higher in 2015.
That's why we're recommending a natural gas ETF today. It tracks natural gas futures, which gives it a double-digit profit potential when prices are climbing. Now that prices are low, it's the perfect time to buy.
But this double-digit profit opportunity won't last forever. Moors says we're about to see three "super shifts" in the natural gas industry that will push prices higher through 2015…
The Three "Super Shifts" Sending Natural Gas Prices Higher in 2015
The first "super shift" is the transition from coal usage to natural gas usage in the United States.
Power companies are switching from coal to natural gas because of the U.S. government's continued dedication to limiting carbon emissions. Natural gas releases fewer carbon emissions than coal when burned. These emissions contribute to climate change and health problems associated with excessive haze.
"This transition has been going on for some time now," Moors said. "And while there is a balance forming in several specific regions in the country where coal (even lower grade coal) has reached usage equilibrium with gas, the larger move to gas continues to gain momentum."
By 2020, roughly 33% of the United States' coal-generating capacity from 2012 will have been retired. According to Moors, the majority of that will be replaced with natural gas.
"To put this in perspective, this transition alone – ignoring any of the impact on coal from the intensifying Environmental Protection Agency standard increases – will eliminate almost twice the current natural gas storage surplus nationwide," he said.
Secondly, we are now seeing increased usage of natural gas in the production of petrochemicals. Traditionally, oil was used.
Petrochemicals are used to produce a wide range of products including plastics, rubbers, detergents, dyes, and even fertilizer.
According to the EIA, domestic demand for ethane (a type of natural gas) will grow by more than 600,000 barrels per day by 2018. By then, demand will exceed 1.6 million barrels per day.
The third major catalyst for natural gas prices will be the liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade.
The United States is expected to begin exporting LNG by the end of 2015 to help meet rising global natural gas demand.
These LNG exports will be the first since 1973. The Department of Energy has approved five LNG export projects since 2012. The first to be approved was Cheniere Energy Inc.'s (NYSEMKT: LNG), which is expected to begin exporting this year.
Global demand for LNG has doubled since 2000, and is expected to double again by 2025. China alone expects to triple its current use of natural gas by 2020.
Production of LNG will grow 8% annually until 2020 according to BP's "Energy Outlook 2035." The same report finds that LNG will overtake pipelines as the dominant form of traded gas by 2035.
"American exports should account for between 6% to 8% of a rapidly expanding global LNG market by 2020," Moors said. "That's starting from where we are today, which is ground zero."