Friday, February 29, 2008

Why I Think You Got to Look at Natural Gas (Again)

Don Coxe on Natural Gas in his February 21, 2008 Conference Call

Another commodity that we have not had good things to say about for a long, long time - natural gas - is one I want you to start looking at. And I want you to pull up a long term chart on natgas and what you'll see is this is a long term base pattern after the panic associated with Katrina when we told you to get out of the natural gas stocks and switch to metals.

It's a long sideways move. But the reason why I think you got to look at natural gas, again, is that it looks like it's about to break out of its base on the upside. And if it does, the natural gas, which is a short reserve life index fuel in the US, is now a situation where massive amounts of capital are being committed by the big oil companies led by ExxonMobil on pulling out tight gas from formations where in the past they couldn't possibly extract the gas. They're using new technology. This is expensive gas.

We're going to get a new floor price for gas set by this. In the case of ExxonMobil they're reason for doing it is primarily to protect their reserve life index. They've had to cut it by three full years, this year, because of what's been happening to them on oil from political risk. And, because of this magic that you can use six units of natural gas to equal a barrel of oil then ExxonMobil by developing reserves of natural gas, high-priced gas, can protect its reserve life index on this barrel of energy equivalent.

ExxonMobil is a brilliantly run company. They're going to do what they can to preserve their reserve life index. But another big company is involved in this because you've got General Electric promoting, once again, the sale of gas turbines for electricity. And with oil prices staying high and if you look…if you take the price of oil as far ahead as 2010 - December oil is now at 92.34, which means that for users of residual, what they can't see is any relief in the future. And natural gas, of course, also wins on the basis of environmentally-sound fuel because of small amounts of air pollution.

So I think you're going to have major companies out there with big followings. They're going to be promoting this. And what they can't do is rely on LNG for the reasons we've discussed on so many calls, particularly terror risk, but in addition the fact that the LNG suppliers out there, so much of it is from places in the world that have definite levels of political risk in them. That was going to be the saviour.

And as I told you before, six years ago I attended a meeting of the partners in the natural gas industry in the Chicago Land, which was both the users of natural gas and the major pipelines that delivered gas. And at that time I watched as the head of Marathon Oil's operations for natural gas in North America covered a wall with a chart of all the natural gas fields with their reserve life indices. And he pointed out that by the end of this decade, we were going to be facing a full-blown crisis in this country for natgas, but it was going to be solved by a pipeline that was going to bring it in from Canada.

And I got up at the meeting, spoke after him and said first of all he also said that LNG was going to come in big and I said I don't believe all those LNG projects are going to go forward because of 9/11. And the guy from Marathon jumped up and said “Who invited him to the meeting? We checked out our approvals for these projects with the FBI and they've all been approved as being safe. and I said, "Have you talked to them since 9/11?" and he said "No, we didn't have to. We've got approvals." And then I said, "As for the pipeline in Canada, that's not going to go forward in this decade. Not a chance." Once again he jumped up and said, "We have all the arrangements in place. We've got an agreement from the federal government in Ottawa that it's going forward," and I said, "You haven't got an agreement from the native peoples." Well the meeting became very difficult at that stage because once again he said I didn't know what I was talking about and there weren't going to be a few native tribes holding back a project like this. I tell you that only because it illustrates that the industry collectively had a comfort level on gas, which wasn't vindicated.

So we could get yet another energy surprise coming. And that's not just because we've
had such a cold winter because, of course, nobody out there who could be intellectually respected thought we could have cold winters. But, because it illustrates that the supply side response that you would have ordinarily expected, has been constrained by conditions they can't control.

So I think you have got to start looking at natgas as being maybe the next commodity that's going to join the bull market, having been in not a real bear market but a nothing market, for so long.

This is the time to start buying oil and gas income trusts. I have been buying Paramount (PMT.UN), NAL Oil & Gas (NAE.UN), PennWest (PWT.UN) and Daylight Energy Trust (DAY.UN).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When The Sun Doesn’t Shine and the Wind Doesn’t Blow We Need Natural Gas

When the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, we need natural gas. Until new plants are approved and built for clean coal and nuclear, we need natural gas. If we want to subsidize agriculture, we need natural gas to convert food crops to energy. To supplement oil that faces increasingly short supply, we need natural gas. Finally, if hydrogen is going to be the last clean fuel, it will likely be created from natural gas.

Natural gas weighted Canroy's have natural gas selling at half price, judging by the incremental price of liquefied natural gas in Asia. Last week, according to trade reports, Japan paid $18 a million btu for the liquid form of the same commodity that is priced in the futures market at $8 for the next six years.

Since $18 LNG is roughly equivalent to $100 oil burned in the same Japanese power plants, the stark difference points to an upward price trend for the clean fuel.

Meanwhile, monthly distributions are likely to be higher in 2008 judging from the trend in the price for natural gas prices.

I have been buying NAE.UN, PMT.UN and PWT.UN.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Raymond James Forecast for Lower Natural Gas Prices

Raymond James is forecasting week natural gas prices for the balance of the year.

Click here to get limited time access to this report.

Canaccord Puts Verenex Energy on its Best Ideas List


VNX : TSX : C$9.76 | SPECULATIVE BUY, C$12.75 target

We are adding Verenex (VNX: TSX)to the Canaccord Adams Best Ideas List. Verenex is an oil and gas exploration and production company that has exploration acreage in the Ghadames Basin in Libya and in the Paris Basin and Aquitaine Maritime in France.

Verenex has had remarkable exploration success in Libya with 100% success on six exploration wells in Area 47. In addition, the company recently released test results from an appraisal well in Area 47 that provides increasing confidence that there is a significant stratigraphic component to the oil deposit.

Stratigraphic traps provide the potential for very large accumulations of oil, in the range of hundreds of millions to billions of barrels of oil (as opposed to more modest individual accumulations of 25 to 40 million barrels in structural traps typical of the Ghadames basin).

Our SPECULATIVE BUY recommendation and 12-month target price of C$12.75 per share are based on our contingent asset valuation of the company. Our estimate of contingent asset value for Verenex is based on recoverable reserve potential of about 2 billion barrels (gross). Verenex currently trades at about 77% of our target price of C$12.75 and is down about 45% from its 52 week high of $17.63.

In the interest of full disclosure I own 5,000 shares of Verenex.

If you want a safer way to play Verenex (VNX-T) you could by Vermillion Energy Trust (VET.UN-T). It has a substantial interest in Verenex. Vermillion pays $0.19 per month per unit anf is trading around $35 per unit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Real Estate is no Longer a Sure Thing

I think residential real estate booms in most Western Countries are over. Real Estate is going to be experiencing its own kind of implosion.

The fundamental statistic that nobody can change, is that each new generation across the OECD is roughly 60% of the size of the previous generation. The thing that made real estate the investment that you couldn't lose on in the long term simply because there'd be more people out there to move into the buildings or the homes. We've gone into reverse on this.

So places like the coast of Spain will continue to benefit from people who get second homes or decide to move there. The number of Brits who move to Spain to escape the British climate and so forth. You get home buyers that way. Similarily in palces loke the coast of Florida, Mexico and Panama. But on a total basis, what you have is a failure to reproduce (or even replace) the population. So that real estate has moved from being a growth asset over the longer term to one that over the longer term can only go into contraction.

Many people I know plan on selling their home and use the proceeds to fund their retirement. As time marches on and the Baby Boomers retire and try to cash out of their homes we will experience a long term secular decline in real estate.

This is a new theme that has not been considered by most of us.

This is why we must invest in income producing assets today to fund our retirements tomorrow.