The Australian Shale Rush Begins

Publisher’s Note: If you missed my note last night on the $349 million shale gas deal that went down on February 25th, you can read it here. In today’s Markets and Money, you’ll read about BHP’s new interest in Aussie shale gas acreage. The natural gas price halved.

BHP is already late to the shale game in Australia. Your editor came back from a conference in Houston in 2011 in which the excitement was about natural gas and promptly recommended two more shale gas explorers on top of the one we’d already tipped. THAT was the time to take an extremely speculative position that land would be grabbed up in the most promising regions of Australia.

A lot of the land grabbing has already happened, at least in the Cooper Basin. That’s where three of our recommendations operate. A fourth – admittedly a very risky speculation – has its assets located in the Canning Basin. The Canning Basin is out Pilbara way. And that could make things interesting for BHP.

Keep in mind that BHP has shelved the $30 billion expansion of the copper and uranium project at Olympic Dam in South Australia. It also cancelled the $20 billion ‘outer harbour’ project at Port Hedland, an iron-ore related project. For a miner that prides itself on the diversity of its asset portfolio, you’d think onshore shale gas from Australia would be a nice fit.

In any event, BHPs interest in the industry isn’t necessary for there to be a boom. Chevron signed up with a $349 million deal last week. The game is afoot. You can read about it here.

But in your hunt for the next great investment, it pays to look at what’s NOT making news and new highs. We’re talking about gold, of course. The flip side of the Dow rally – and the rally in stocks in general – is that investors are selling their positions in gold exchange traded funds (ETFs). ETFs dumped 106 tonnes of gold in February alone, according to the Financial Times.

Where do you think that physical gold is going? What’s that…did you say China and India? You’re probably right. And it shows you why gold still hasn’t entered into the bubble phase so many asinine commentators alleged when it rose above $1,900 per ounce in 2011.

The punters never bought gold. They bought paper gold in the form of ETFs. And now they’re selling it in order to buy stocks as they make their Fed-inflated high. The only thing that could possibly make this trade any worse is to sell physical gold in order to buy stocks. We’re hoping for even lower gold prices on the ETF sell-off, at which point we’ll be happy to buy some more physical too.

Dan Denning
for Markets and Money

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From the Archives…

Why China’s Economy is Flashing Red
1-03-13 – Greg Canavan

Heroes and History
28-02-13 – Bill Bonner

Bitcoin: Get Rich or Die Mining
27-02-13 – Joel Bowman

Why Italy’s Gold Hoard Tells You the Precious Metal is Ridiculously Cheap
26-02-13 – Greg Canavan

Stock Prices Are Not What You Think They Are
25-02-13 – Greg Canavan

Dan Denning

Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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Dennis O'Neill, Resource Futures Pty Ltd
Dennis O'Neill, Resource Futures Pty Ltd
To regain in Australia the energy competitiveness washed away over the past 7+ years will certainly require at least an Antipodean equivalent of the the US shale oil & gas revolution. Throw in a much needed boost in energy security as well, if we can shift some coal or gas through a liquids plant. But we are rapidly dividing the country into two gas camps – CSG opportunities near where people live and farm are rapidly being excluded from exploration and development through green and red tape (Qld got a jump start on avoiding this issue in its CSG areas)… Read more »
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