I couldn't believe my ears the other day when it was mentioned that we would become net exporters of natural gas next year. The fact of the matter is that, as I wrote in a piece recently, natural gas should become the cornerstone of our domestic energy policy. While we have a ready supply now, we still need all the natural gas we can get.

Natural gas can and should be the transition fuel between our current dependence on oil and coal, and the ramp-up of a real contribution by the renewable fuels. That is, if that ramp-up ever becomes meaningful enough to allow the renewables to carry a good part of our energy load.

I was also somewhat chagrined when it was announced that ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) had cut a deal with China and PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) to send $41 billion of liquid natural gas to the Asian company during the next 20 years. The deal follows an Exxon arrangement with India's state oil company Petronet LND to sell it gas as well.

The gas will come from the Gorgon project, which is based on an island off the western coast of Australia. So I realize that Exxon isn't selling American gas to China. And beyond that, the shipping distance from Australia to China has definite advantages over sending LNG from down under to North America. But I nevertheless must admit to being on a perhaps overzealous campaign to raise natural gas as our own primary fuel.

The project is operated by 50% owner Chevron (NYSE:CVX), with the remainder split evenly between Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A). As is the case with big mining companies BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) and their Australian iron ore venture, each of the three Big Oil companies will market their individual slices of the take from the Gorgon.

The field could ultimately produce in excess of 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The project, which has been delayed, was originally expected to cost about $30 billion, including $45 million for biodiversity, some of which will involve the protection of indigenous turtle populations.

So while the likes of Chesapeake (NYSE:CHK), and numerous others are growing our own gas reserves almost daily, Exxon is selling gas internationally. But my ranting notwithstanding, I nevertheless think that ExxonMobil is clearly a top-notch oil company that should be prominent on Fools' radar screens.

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