In This Review

Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040
Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040
By David G. Victor, Amy M. Jaffe, and Mark H. Hayes (eds.)
Cambridge University Press, 2006, 534 pp

The importance of natural gas as an energy source has been growing for several years, and as the technical and economic difficulties of moving gas over long distances are surmounted, this rise is likely to continue thanks to the environmental benefits and relative abundance of gas. Energy teams at Stanford and the University of Texas have collaborated on this book to examine the past history of international trade in gas -- with illuminating case studies of Algeria, Indonesia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Argentina and Bolivia, Qatar, and Trinidad -- and to explore the future prospects. Peter Hartley and Kenneth Medlock contribute what is effectively a short monograph on a model of the world gas market out to 2040. Broadly speaking, the contributors conclude that the world gas market, thanks to the growth of liquefied natural gas terminals and shipping, will become much more integrated in the coming decades, with long- and even short-term arbitrage among markets, and that because of competing sources of energy, a world gas cartel is not likely to be viable, despite the heavy concentration of proven reserves in Iran, Russia, and a few other countries. However, developing the market will require massive investment, and the willingness of private investors to undertake the necessary risks could be undermined by the political climate for investment in both sending and receiving countries.