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Global energy markets are grappling with changing demand and supply forces, particularly a shift in focus from the long-term price direction of crude to price relationships between different sources of fuel, especially natural gas and oil, CME Group Chief Economist Blu Putnam said.
The “poster child” for this shift is the historically wide gap between relatively expensive oil and cheaper coal and gas. Currently, a U.S. dollar spent on natural gas buys more than six times as much energy, in terms of British thermal units, compared with crude. For coal, the bang-for-the-buck is over seven times that of oil.
“How markets resolve this large energy content disparity between natural gas and crude oil will be one of the major challenges of the coming five to 10 years,” Putnam said in the report.
Oil’s price premium may narrow somewhat over the next five years amid ramped-up efforts to use natural gas for electrical power and transit fleets. Still, longer-term futures market prices underscore the difficultly and risk of infrastructure investments aimed at taking advantage of the energy price discrepancy.