"North America wlll be exporting LNG very soon. If that causes a shortage, we will just cut back on exports.
But there won't be a shortage, as we are sitting on a basically unlimited supply"
Bakken, that is a highly optimistic statement. Nothing is truly unlimited.
It reminds me of a headline I read in 1998... "the world is awash in oil"... this was back when oil was trading at less than $10/bbl and the Asian currency crisis was in full swing. Oil at $50/bbl was unimaginable back then. We know what happened since then, don't we?
And what you don't seem to understand is that while there won't be a shortage, a producer won't bother selling their NG if they can get double the price (or more) selling it in Europe or Asia.
In the past, North American NG producers didn't have that option. But that will begin to change in 2013.
If NG only stays at $3.50 in North America, then I predict that every producer will try to export and net back more than double for as much of their production as possible, even after the costs of liquifying and shipping the NG.
Over time, prices in Europe and Asia will come down and prices in North America will rise.
There will still be regional pricing disparities in the long run, but not as extreme as it is now.
Regarding coal... one thing that is far less likely to happen in the future is a switch back to using coal on a mass scale if NG prices rise. Government pollution regulations in many places simply won't allow it.