The stock is up 17% since I first broached the subject last year, and there are more gains to come - not just for Dominion, but for other natural gas producers and exporters, as well.
I'll go through the full roster in a moment, but before I do, let's back up and talk about how we got here…
Dominating the Market
As you're no doubt aware, the United States has enormous natural gas reserves. Thanks to new fracking technologies and a flurry of activity among producers, the United States is producing more natural gas than ever before.
U.S. natural gas production is up by one-third since 2005, with output hitting an all-time high of 25.3 trillion cubic feet last year. In fact, the United States has so much natural gas, it could be exporting as much as 100 million metric tons of LNG by 2025.
That's pretty crazy, considering no more than a decade ago the experts were worried we'd need to start importing massive amounts of the fuel to meet demand.
That's why Dominion first acquired Cove Point - one of the nation's largest LNG import facilities - back in 2002. It started receiving imports in 2003. Now, a decade later, the company wants to start shipping it back out.
You see, Dominion presides over one of the largest natural gas transportation and storage networks in the country. It has 10,000 miles of gathering and transmission pipeline, as well as a massive amount of natural gas storage and processing capacity.
And now it has an LNG export facility 60 miles south of Washington, D.C.
That makes Dominion a crucial player in the flow of natural gas to foreign markets, where it sells for two, three and even 10-times the price it does in the United States.
Indeed, Russia's Gazprom (OTCQX:GZPFY), which controls 25% of Europe's natural gas imports, has had a veritable monopoly there for decades. And it's really put the screws to former Soviet states - jacking up prices and even cutting supplies in the dead of winter.
Meanwhile, energy demand continues to soar in Asia, where natural gas supplies are hard to come by or non-existent.
Demand is so high overseas, Dominion has already found buyers for pretty much all of Cove Point's capacity. The company has struck deals with a subsidiary of GAIL Ltd., India's state-owned gas company, and Japan's Sumitomo Corp.
Under those agreements, Dominion would collect a flat fee for transporting and processing the fuel. So it's being paid on volume, which means natural gas prices are irrelevant.
That's important, because natural gas prices in the United States will remain low until the glut that's amassed starts to evaporate. But the main point here is that Dominion is the quintessential middleman for U.S. LNG exports.
After waiting for more than a year for the Energy Department's approval, Dominion can finally move ahead and take full advantage of its position.
Doubtless, more profit and success lies ahead for the company. But that's not all. This marks the evolution of a very important trend that will carry many other stocks higher, as well …
The Next Wave
Behind Dominion, there are about 20 other companies lined up waiting to gain the government s approval to start exporting LNG.
As those projects are approved, the companies involved will see their stock prices rise - just like Dominion and Cheniere Energy (LNG) before them.
In fact, they've already started. Just take a look at Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) - another company I named back in May.
The San Diego-based Sempra applied to add natural gas liquefaction and export facilities to its existing Cameron terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana. It's next on the list behind Dominion.
Cameron has a total LNG export capacity of 12 million metric tons per year, or about 1.7 billion cubic feet per day. The facility is expected to start delivering LNG to international markets in 2017.
Like Dominion, Sempra claims the project will boost both the local and national economy, creating nearly 3,000 direct jobs in the peak construction year and approximately 130 full-time jobs when fully operational.
It's very likely to be the next company to win the government's approval, and its stock will almost certainly respond.
In fact, it already has. It's up 18% this year - and it'll probably climb higher once the DOE gives Cameron the go-ahead.
But that's not all. Now that these companies can move ahead with their export terminals, and eventually start shipping LNG overseas, producers can rest assured that natural gas prices have finally found a floor.
Once the exports start flying, the glut of natural gas that's currently smothering the market will evaporate. Prices will respond, rising from about $3 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) to $6. They've already started bouncing back from the record low they hit last year, and there's more to come.
They're the two largest natural gas producers in the country. So they're going to respond very favorably to an increase in prices. And those are just the first of many stocks that are going to really take off from here.
Plenty more opportunities will arise. So stay tuned.