All that Energy

The United States of America is the world’s largest energy producer, consumer, and net importer. It also ranks twelfth worldwide in reserves of oil, sixth in natural gas, and first in coal.

In 2003, as a nation, we consumed 19.9 million barrels of oil per day, and approximately 58% of those barrels were imported. Two fifths of them came from OPEC countries with the remainder from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Reading the above statistics paints a picture of foreign dependence. Our factories, our electrical generators, our homes, and our cars… in fact, 42% of our economy depends on these imports.

We have to assume that, one day, we will run out of domestic supplies and that foreign supplies will not last forever. China, in the last few years, has become a great consumer of all commodities, including oil. It has domestic supplies, but it is unlikely it would ever produce enough to fulfill its needs. As its economy grows, the demand for oil will grow also. And grow like no other.

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One day, either oil prices will go through the roof because of scarcity or there will simply be no more to be had.

Interestingly enough, our Government doesn’t seem concerned. In fact, the present administration has allowed a decrease in automobile fuel efficiency to occur, and the market trend demonstrates our appetite for larger and larger vehicles. We can only assume that the trend will continue.

But where does that leave us? It’s like having five teenagers in the house. They will eat you out of house and home in no time at all. Our consumption of oil will eventually be mitigated by scarcity and price. We will be forced back into small, efficient cars and other energy saving efforts.

What we really need is an alternative. Natural Gas is one, but it too is not unlimited and will be susceptible to scarcity pricing.

Most of us have heard about fuel cells and the companies behind them. The fuel cell seems to have “dropped off the radar screen” of late. Why is that? We here at PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL have no idea why, but we have a feeling that because the cells provided no immediate solution or cost savings they took on the characteristics of a millennium “fad.”

Too bad. Sometimes when the trend is long term, say more than a year or two, investors have a hard time staying the course. The alternative energy trend and other solutions being generated are a long term trend, maybe twenty years in the making. Maybe even longer.

This is a trend worth watching, and, for the savvy investor, one worth participating in.