by Larry Smith
The extraction of oil and gas from beneath the Bahamian seabed is a medium-term likelihood that many may instinctively oppose for environmental reasons. But we could cut costs and pollution now by generating electricity from liquified natural gas - imported from the US.
That's a scenario made possible by the development of large, unconventional gas fields in the US. Right now, the cost of natural gas is much cheaper than oil, and burning gas instead of heavy fuel oil or diesel produces 30 per cent less pollution.
The recent increase in North American gas reserves, combined with projected growth in global demand, will make the US a major liquified natural gas exporter over the next few years, experts say. This is in sharp contrast to previous years, when the US was seeking to import LNG from the Middle East and Trinidad.
Natural gas accounts for about 16 per cent of the global energy mix, but the US has near zero LNG export capacity. Existing LNG import terminals in Louisiana and Texas are already adding liquifaction capacity to allow for major LNG exports by 2015.
Meanwhile, the first US license to export smaller quantities of gas (up to 145 million gallons per year for 25 years) was obtained in July by a Florida firm called Carib Energy.