A 'real' natural gas revolution in the US: Moniz

Real nat gas revolution: Dr. Moniz
Real nat gas revolution: Dr. Moniz

Amid the upheaval in the energy sector, natural gas is doing well, while coal is struggling.

The nat gas market is flourishing, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz told CNBC on Wednesday.

"We are now perhaps at the 10-year mark of what has been a real natural gas revolution in this country," he said on "Power Lunch." "Gas [is] now the biggest supplier, biggest fuel for electricity — overtaking coal; [the] revival of manufacturing and now getting into the export market."

Coal production dropped 32.5 percent year over year in the week that ended Feb. 13, according to the Energy Information Administration.

As recently as 2005, the Department of Energy reported that natural gas consumption in the U.S. outpaced available domestic supplies and imports were needed, but Moniz said Wednesday that position has "changed dramatically."

The secretary thinks America may be on its way to "probably … being among the very biggest exporters of natural gas in the world."

Contributing to the race, Cheniere Energy prepared to ship its first liquefied natural gas cargo on Wednesday. The company's interim CEO, Neal Shear, told "Power Lunch" in an interview that "Cheniere is a very unique company in this space."

"We'll be the first one to deliver LNG. People should understand we're 87 percent contracted on seven trains. We have investor-grade counterparts that have signed 20-year contracts to deliver LNG from these facilities that we're [seeing] here today," he said.

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In this same vein, Moniz regards the move as "a very big deal."

Liquefied natural gas is used to transport natural gas to markets, the gas is regasified and then distributed as pipeline natural gas. The Department of Energy reports that "a significant portion of the world's natural gas resources are considered 'stranded' because they are located far from any market. Transportation of LNG by ship is one method to bring this stranded gas to the consumer."

Moniz told CNBC that by transporting liquefied natural gas, the U.S. economy will benefit from new jobs.

Meanwhile, the EIA said that the imports by the three largest global importers of natural gas: Japan, China and South Korea, declined by about 1 billion cubic feet per day or 5 percent in 2015, in comparison to 2014.

The North Asian countries saw a combined annual decline in LNG for the first time since the global economic crisis of 2009. EIA pegs the drop to "reduced demand for natural gas by the power generation sector, driven by slower economic growth and lower-priced competing fuels, [which] resulted in reduced LNG consumption."