Daily Energy Blog

Category:
Financial

The Uinta Basin is no Permian when it comes to drilling activity and production volumes, but the folks behind what may be the biggest M&A deal in Uinta history say the oil-production economics in parts of the quirky-as-heck play in northeastern Utah compare very favorably with the best of the Permian’s Delaware and Midland basins. And where else will an astounding 85%-plus of the produced hydrocarbons come out of the ground as high-quality waxy crude? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the recently announced plan by SM Energy and non-op specialist Northern Oil & Gas (NOG) to acquire XCL Resources in a pair of deals valued at $2.55 billion. 

Category:
Natural Gas

Three phenomena — the European Union’s laser focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the EU’s now-significant reliance on LNG from the U.S., and the impending startup of new LNG export terminals along the Gulf Coast — are converging, with potentially significant implications for gas producers and LNG exporters alike. Starting next year, U.S. and other suppliers that ship LNG to EU member countries will need to begin complying with the EU’s methane emissions reporting requirements — full compliance is mandatory by 2027, and in 2030 and beyond the gas exported to the EU will be expected to meet a to-be-determined methane intensity (MI) target. As we discuss in today’s RBN blog, the EU methane regulations are still a work in progress, but they provide another reason why U.S. gas producers have been increasing their monitoring of methane emissions and their efforts to reduce them. 

Category:
Natural Gas

Developers have been kicking around plans for LNG exports from British Columbia (BC), Canada’s westernmost province, for more than a decade, with more than 20 projects on the drawing board at one point. That long list has been whittled down to just three that have reached the point of final investment decision (FID) — a hard plan to proceed to construction and startup. One of those projects, LNG Canada, should be sending out LNG as soon as the end of this year, placing Canada firmly on the map of LNG-exporting nations. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the three projects and hint at plans by a handful of contenders vying to join the LNG export party. 

Category:
Crude Oil

As four proposed crude export terminals off the coast of Texas navigate the long and winding regulatory path toward potential construction, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) already does what they want to do. It’s the sole Gulf Coast terminal that can fully load Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) bound for global markets. LOOP started as an import-only facility, but later flexed to bring oil in and move it out as the energy landscape changed. It’s easy to wonder whether a new offshore crude export facility might be redundant –— why build another one if LOOP could just export more? Turns out it’s not that simple. LOOP is different — in its construction, its connectivity, its role in balancing imports and exports and especially the types of crude it handles. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll examine LOOP’s niche in U.S. crude exports and the role it continues to play. 

Category:
Financial

While many larger E&Ps have been growing bigger through massive, headline-grabbing acquisitions, EOG Resources — by market cap, the second-largest non-integrated U.S. producer — has been expanding for a quarter century now by focusing on the stealthy exploration and development of new resource plays. The results of EOG’s long-standing strategy have been impressive, and include finding and development (F&D) costs that are significantly lower than its Oil-Weighted peer group and a higher-than-average reserve replacement rate. In today’s RBN blog, we analyze the scope and impact of EOG’s singular focus on organic growth instead of M&A. 

Category:
Energy

Back in the early 2010s, U.S. crude oil and NGL exports were minimal and LNG exports were non-existent, but there were omens that the U.S. would soon regain its status as an energy production juggernaut. Now the U.S. is a critically important global supplier of oil, gas and NGLs, with exports crucial to managing supply and demand as infrastructure rushes to keep up and industry players simultaneously explore alternative energy possibilities. How all these moving parts interconnect was the focus of RBN’s 18th School of Energy last week and it’s the subject of today’s RBN blog, which — fair warning! — is a blatant advertorial for School of Energy Encore, our newly available online version of the recent, action-packed conference. 

Category:
Natural Gas

The U.S. Gulf Coast is poised to experience another big wave of new LNG export capacity, and this time it will be joined by new capacity coming online in both Mexico and Canada. The more than 13 Bcf/d of incremental natural gas demand from North American LNG projects starting up over the next five years will have significant effects on U.S. and Canadian gas producers, gas flows and (quite likely) gas prices, which have been deeply depressed for more than a year now. In today’s RBN blog, we provide updates on the 10 LNG export projects in very advanced stages of development in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, detail the expected ramp-up in LNG-related gas demand and discuss the potential impact of rising LNG exports on gas prices. 

Category:
Crude Oil

The four deepwater crude oil export projects under development along the U.S. Gulf Coast are getting closer to receiving their regulatory go-aheads after years of planning and millions of dollars spent. In fact, Enterprise’s Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) received its license in April. These projects have sparked commercial and wider market interest because of the many benefits they may provide — including the ability to fully load 2-MMbbl Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) without any reverse lightering. In today’s RBN blog, we highlight key insights from our new Drill Down Report on the four projects, the potential benefits and the challenges they face. 

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Fast-rising NGL supplies during the early years of the Shale Era fueled excitement about the potential for new petrochemical plants in the U.S., especially ethane-only crackers to make ethylene and other byproducts, along with propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants to make propylene. While 11 new ethane-fed crackers have come online in the U.S. since the mid-2010s and the world’s largest — Chevron Phillips Chemical and QatarEnergy’s 4.8-billion-lb/year facility — is under construction in Texas, only three of the many PDH projects proposed over the same period were actually built. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at why the initial rush of new PDH project announcements resulted in so few new U.S. plants. 

Category:
Government & Regulatory

That the Supreme Court overturned the Chevron Deference, a key foundation of modern administrative law for 40 years, in its June 28 ruling in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo (Loper Bright) was no surprise, although it does not make it any less disruptive. The order follows a steady drumbeat of Supreme Court decisions issued during this term and in recent prior ones curbing the regulatory enforcement capabilities of Executive Branch agencies. But while this is a landmark case and would be expected to lead to a host of new legal challenges, its practical effect might end up being more nuanced. In today’s RBN blog, we revisit the Chevron Deference, why the Court said it had to go, and what it might mean for economic and environmental regulations impacting the energy industry. 

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Mont Belvieu, TX and Conway, KS, are the two most significant U.S. hubs for NGL trading, storage and fractionation, with the much bigger Mont Belvieu hub primarily serving Gulf Coast and export demand, while the smaller Conway hub is focused on Midwest/Great Plains demand, especially for propane. The pricing dynamics between the two hubs are a key indicator of the supply/demand balance between the regions, but they don’t have the same kind of influence over the direction or magnitude of flows as price differential dynamics often do for other energy commodities. In today’s RBN blog, we will examine the gap between the price of the NGL “basket” in Mont Belvieu versus Conway and what that price spread tells us. 

Category:
Natural Gas

The Panama Canal expansion completed in June 2016 was expected to allow much larger LNG tankers to move product from Sabine Pass LNG and other Gulf Coast export terminals through the canal to Asian and Latin American customers. But water levels at Gatun Lake, which provides the fresh water needed to operate the canal’s locks, have been well below normal in recent years, limiting opportunities to use the canal and complicating plans to ramp up LNG flows through it. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the challenges of moving LNG through the Panama Canal, how access to the waterway has been affected by drought and climate conditions over the past decade, and the impact on the LNG market. 

Category:
Financial

After thoroughly alienating their investor base over more than two decades of boom-and-bust cycles, U.S. E&Ps won investors back in the early 2020s by radically transforming themselves from high-risk to high-yield vehicles. Fueled by surging crude oil and natural gas prices in 2022, producers generated massive free cash flows — and spectacular shareholder returns that topped 10% during the late-2022 peak. Prices and cash flows subsequently retreated, however, and skeptics worried about the sustainability of producers’ high-return strategy. Would debt repayment, dividends and share buybacks sink? In today’s RBN blog, we‘ll review the Q1 2024 cash allocation of the major U.S. E&Ps with a spotlight on current dividend yields. 

Category:
Crude Oil

The Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) crude market has evolved in recent years, due largely to the reversal of the Capline pipeline as well as limited production growth from the offshore fields that contribute to the LLS market. Yet the LLS premium against other U.S. grades remains strong, a sign that refiners aren’t ready to give up on it just yet, given its attractive yields of high-value transportation fuels like gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. In today’s RBN blog, we will revisit LLS and examine its production and demand outlook. 

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Energy Transfer’s plan to buy WTG Midstream, a West Texas-based and private equity-backed natural gas gatherer and processor, just got a bit less expensive — and not quite so comprehensive. Energy Transfer will still acquire WTG’s network of more than 6,000 miles of gas pipelines, eight processing plants and more, but WTG’s 20% stake in the joint-venture (JV) BANGL pipeline system is no longer part of the deal. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll take a look at the detour from the original transaction.