Upward trend gives hope to natural gas and coal, but …

With a colder than normal November for much of the country, natural gas prices are soaring to highs that haven’t been seen for at least four years.

But whether those prices, — now hovering around $5 per million British Thermal Unit, — can hold and even increase remains to be seen, as too many factors play an influence.

Experts like Charlie Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Natural Gas Association of West Virginia, believe the cold weather, coupled with lower than normal stockpiles of natural gas, has led to the increased sales price.

But Dennis Xander, president of Denex Petroleum in Buckhannon, said while the stockpiles are lower, the industry remains in a supply overbalance.

“We have more supply than demand,” Xander said. “A lot of (the pricing) is going to be controlled by the weather.”

Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, said even though prices are on the rise, they still trail behind historic norms even just 10 years ago, when per million prices reached $13.

Likewise, gains in coal production, which are hovering between 5 to 7 percent, can be traced to lesser regulation, as well as market demand. But whether either factor will lead to further resurgence is dubious at best.

One thing is certain, though. Both natural gas and coal are needed in the national energy plan for the foreseeable future.

The nation is not ready to turn solely to natural gas and renewable energy sources. Coal remains valuable and viable because of that.

West Virginia’s abundant natural gas reserves will only gain more value if planned pipelines are allowed to be completed, allowing energy companies to transport their products for energy and downstream manufacturing uses.

And national leaders should follow President Donald Trump’s example of agreeing that coal remains a viable resource in the immediate and foreseeable future, until other sources of power generation are developed and become cost-effective.

The recent uptick in prices and production are positive signs, but far from guaranteed for the future.

West Virginia’s leaders must continue to sound the clarion call for help in developing the Mountain State’s bountiful natural resources for the good of all of America.

There is no sense in letting the state’s coal, oil and natural gas to go to waste.

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