Scarce resources and a lack of technology have long made those scenarios a distant possibility. But driven by the recent hydrocarbon boom in North America, they are now nearly a reality. The growing oversupply of natural gas and coal, typically used as fuel for power generation, combined with growing demand globally for transportation fuel is expanding the price differences between light hydrocarbons such as natural gas and heavier products such as crude oil and coal.
As a result, trade-offs that once made no sense are suddenly economical. The geographic dislocation between areas of demand growth and growing production is also shifting the balance of power to energy consumers who now have a plethora of options.