Daily Energy Blog

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Way back in 2018-19, U.S. NGL production was rising fast, new ethane-only steam crackers were coming online along the Gulf Coast, and new fractionation capacity wasn’t being added quickly enough — the capacity shortfall sent the NGL market into near-panic. Fast forward to now: NGL production is still rising but domestic demand is flat, resulting in an NGL-exports surge and a race to develop new export capacity. And fractionation capacity in Mont Belvieu and elsewhere? The market learned its lesson five years ago and, to avert another capacity crunch, midstream companies have been adding new fractionators at an almost frenetic pace. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the ongoing fractionation-capacity buildout — and the need to quickly expand NGL export terminals. 

Category:
Renewables

The federal government’s Hydrogen Production Tax Credit (PTC), also known as 45V, provides the highest incentives for hydrogen produced using clean sources of power generation, like wind and solar. That might seem like great news for current and potential hydrogen producers looking to take advantage of the credit, since the U.S. has added significant renewable generation capacity in the last several years, but the reality is much different. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll explain how “additionality” fits into the “three pillars” of clean hydrogen, how it would be calculated under the proposed guidance, and some ways the rules might be adjusted to give hydrogen producers and power generators a little more flexibility. 

Category:
Energy

Everyone in Texas remembers the infamous Winter Storm Uri of three years ago. What started out as a simple cold snap for many quickly turned into something far more serious: the biggest power outage in state history, with billions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of lives lost. Since then, the expected arrival of frigid temperatures has been met with some trepidation, but the critical failures of February 2021 have so far been avoided in subsequent storms. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the steps the state has taken in recent years to weatherize its power grid, show why January’s cold snap turned out to be no big deal, and explain why renewables are playing an increasingly important role in grid reliability during extreme weather conditions. 

Category:
Natural Gas

As mightily as U.S. LNG exports have impacted global trade dynamics, so have U.S. natural gas flows been reshaped by the pull toward Gulf Coast export terminals. The next new terminal on deck is Venture Global’s enormous Plaquemines facility in Louisiana, which could begin taking feedgas as early as late fall 2024 and will eventually ramp up to more than 2.6 Bcf/d. For Southeast Louisiana, home to a massive industrial corridor along the Mississippi River as well as the U.S. natural gas benchmark Henry Hub, the introduction of such a huge source of demand will change how gas flows into and out of the region — with knock-on effects across the Gulf Coast. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll turn once again to our Arrow Model to help illuminate what the path forward may look like. 

Category:
Refined Fuels

Around the world, a lot of smart people in the public and private sectors hold similar views on where we’re all headed, energy-wise. An accelerating shift to renewables and electric vehicles, driven by climate concerns. A not-so-far-away peak in global demand for refined products like gasoline and diesel. There are also what you might call consensus opinions on some energy-industry nuances, like how much global refining capacity will be operational in 2025 and what the spread between light and heavy crude oil will be in the years ahead. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from the new Future of Fuels report by RBN’s Refined Fuels Analytics (RFA) practice, including RFA’s different take on a few matters large and small — and all of critical concern to producers, refiners and marketers alike. 

Category:
Natural Gas

Big changes are coming to the new epicenter of the global LNG market: Texas and Louisiana. On top of the existing 12.5 Bcf/d of LNG export capacity in the two states, another 11+ Bcf/d of additional capacity is planned by 2028. The good news is that the two major supply basins that will feed this LNG demand — the Permian and the Haynesville — will be growing, but unfortunately not quite as fast as LNG exports beyond 2024. And there’s another complication, namely that the two basins are hundreds of miles from the coastal LNG terminals, meaning that we’ll need to see lots of incremental pipeline capacity developed to move gas to the water. 

Category:
Natural Gas

The Biden administration’s recently announced decision to pause further action on new LNG export permits for at least several months sent shockwaves through the industry and shook up expectations regarding which projects will be hurt by — or benefit from — the pause. As we’ll discuss in today’s RBN blog, the decision is likely to put a number of Gulf Coast LNG export projects (one of them a real giant) in limbo, set back a Mexican project that would depend on Permian and Eagle Ford gas, and boost a couple of projects up in Canada. Oh, and there’s this: The pause also may help two avowed enemies of the U.S.: Russia and Iran. 

Category:
Crude Oil

Thanks to expanding heavy crude oil production in Western Canada’s oil sands in recent years and increased pipeline access from the region to the U.S. Gulf Coast, re-exports of Canadian heavy crude from Gulf Coast terminals set a record in 2023. With additional production gains on tap in the oil sands, it might seem natural to think that another re-export record is in the works for 2024. However, assuming the much-delayed Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) does indeed start up this year — offering a vastly expanded West Coast outlet for oil sands production — last year’s re-export high might end up being a peak, at least for the number of years it takes for growth in Western Canadian heavy crude production to exceed the capacity of the TMX expansion. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at TMX’s likely impact on Gulf Coast re-exports. 

Category:
Financial

A Super Bowl game (and halftime show) for the ages followed up only hours later by a made-in-heaven combination of two of the largest, most admired E&Ps in the super-hot Permian? It doesn’t get any better than this, unless you’re a Taylor Swift fan too — in which case, it may be impossible for you to “shake it off.” In today’s RBN blog, we examine the newly announced plan by Diamondback Energy and Endeavor Energy Resources to combine into a Travis Kelce-sized Permian pure play with more than 800 Mboe/d of crude oil-focused production and more than 6,000 well locations with breakevens of $40/bbl or less. 

Category:
Crude Oil

A handful of U.S. midstreamers are striving to build an offshore export buoy in the Gulf of Mexico that would be able to fully load a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC). If successful, they could facilitate a new wave of crude oil export flows and dynamics. With domestic production back to record highs and global supply and demand dynamics in a constant state of flux, the market developments along the Gulf Coast are something the oil industry is eying intently. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the latest on two export projects — Phillips 66 and Trafigura's Bluewater Texas Terminal and Sentinel Midstream’s Texas GulfLink.

Category:
Natural Gas

Since the mid-2010s, Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has developed a massive fleet of natural-gas-fired combined-cycle plants and helped to underwrite the buildout of a far-reaching network of gas pipelines from South Texas and West Texas into and through much of Mexico. Now, there’s a big push to extend that network southeast through the Yucatán Peninsula to serve new power plants and industrial facilities there. The question is, with the vast majority of the pipeline capacity down Mexico’s East Coast already locked up, where will the Yucatán’s incremental gas come from? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss this potential disconnect between Mexico’s gas-related aspirations and reality. 

Category:
Renewables

The Biden administration has placed some big bets on clean hydrogen, seeing it as a replacement fuel for some hard-to-abate industries and putting it at the heart of its long-term decarbonization efforts. All of these bets are backed by a brand-new tax credit. But the goal isn’t just to drive production of more hydrogen — it’s also to make hydrogen in a specific way, with measurable decreases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That means producing hydrogen that qualifies for the tax credit is going to be a lot easier said than done. The proposed rules include a concept called deliverability — one of the “three pillars” of clean hydrogen — that adds further challenges to producers hoping to cash in on the tax credit and puts into further peril any number of potential projects. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll explain how deliverability works, how it fits into the proposed rules, and the challenges it will pose for hydrogen producers and power generators alike. 

Category:
Refined Fuels

Fresh on the heels of expanding its Beaumont, TX, refinery into the largest in the country, ExxonMobil announced in January that it had finished yet another project at its century-old Baton Rouge complex in Louisiana. The Baton Rouge Refinery Integrated Competitiveness (BRRIC) project took roughly three years to complete and did not add crude refining capacity, unlike the Beaumont project. Instead, the goal of the $240 million investment was to modernize the crude oil processing plant — the state’s largest — increasing access to competitive crudes and growing markets for its fuels as well as curbing the refinery’s environmental impact. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the BRRIC project and what it means for the Baton Rouge refinery. 

Category:
Natural Gas

So far this winter, front-month CME/NYMEX natural gas futures have fallen, risen and fallen again but, until their most recent dip, generally remained within the same $2.30-to-$3.30/MMBtu range where they have been lingering since mid-2023. With production sustaining near-record levels, LNG export volumes down from the winter highs, and temperatures back to normal, the supply of gas remains plentiful — a bearish scenario. In today’s RBN blog, we look at why there’s been a lid on natural gas prices — and the odds that the situation might change before the rapidly-approaching end of the winter season.

Category:
Financial

Brutal arctic cold may have chilled broad swaths of the U.S. last month, but the scorching pace of upstream M&A activity continued to be red hot, with nearly $20 billion in deals announced in January after a record-setting 2023. Last year’s transaction value totaled an astounding $192 billion, a mark 79% higher than the previous 10-year high and more than the previous three years combined. Why the surge? A wide range of factors influenced corporate decisions to grow through acquisitions rather than organic investment, including commodity prices, equity values, debt levels, operating costs, and production trends. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll analyze M&A trends through several statistical lenses and provide some insights into 2024 activity.