Despite an economic downturn, US petroleum produers that have long-term gas-supply contracts with gas-burning public utilities or gas-export ventures will gain market share. Oil and gas producers that entered the shale play late or with limited drill sites will close down or be bought by more nimble operators with strong balance sheets and a catalog of prospective sites that turn a profit even when oil and gas prices remain low.
New coal technologies may appeal to some emerging markets, particularly in Asia, where oil and gas are less plentiful. Specialized businesses supplying these technologies to coal operators and users may also profit.
Nuclear energy is a long game. New fuels or reactor technologies will do little to move large manufacturers’ or utility companies’ bottom line. Look for long-term opportunities in small, research-oriented companies such as NuScale or the Denver-based Gen4 and smaller manufacturers that win contracts to build new reactors.
In solar and wind energy, new financing mechanisms are evolving, especially for large projects. Look for those with experienced management and proven technologies. With the market for renewable energy on a long-term upward trend line, small companies with promising technological innovation will be rapidly recognized and bought or licensed.
Hydrogen: Watch and wait. For the foreseeable future, it will remain territory for scientists and speculators.