Daily Energy Post Blog Articles

Wednesday, 06/29/2022

Canadian gas storage levels concluded the most recent heating season at multi-year lows, especially in the western half of the nation, which hit a 16-year low at the end of March. Though storage sites have been refilling at a steady rate so far this summer, storage in the west, a region vitally important for balancing the North American gas market during high winter demand, remains unusually low for this time of year. In today’s RBN blog, we examine the latest developments in Canadian natural gas storage and explain why storage levels in Western Canada may start the next heating season at critically low levels.

Thursday, 06/23/2022

It’s well understood that methane is a significant greenhouse gas and that reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production is critical to hitting long-term emissions targets, but that’s about where most of the common ground ends. There are serious disagreements about the actual magnitude of methane emissions, the proper role of government regulation, and whether requirements to control those emissions would place an undue burden on the energy industry and lead to decreased supply. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how emissions estimates are made, why they can vary significantly, and how the disagreements about how to curb those emissions might be resolved.

Wednesday, 06/15/2022

Freeport LNG is expected to be offline for an extended period following last week’s explosion and fire at the export terminal, leaving the global gas market even more undersupplied than it already was. The outage cuts U.S. export capacity by about 2 Bcf/d at a time when Europe is still taking in huge volumes of LNG to offset declines in Russian supplies and bolster storage ahead of winter. This is all happening as another large exporting nation, Australia, is facing a critical winter energy crisis of its own and South American demand is headed toward its seasonal high, straining an already tight market. Today’s RBN blog continues our series about the ongoing Freeport outage, this time looking at the impact to the global gas and LNG markets.

Tuesday, 06/14/2022

Before the bullish winter of 2021-22, it appeared the Northeast natural gas market was headed for familiar territory: worsening seasonal takeaway constraints and deeper, constraint-driven price discounts starting as early as this spring. Instead, the market went in the other direction the past few months. Takeaway utilization out of Appalachia has been lower year-on-year and, for the most part, Appalachian supply basin prices have followed Henry Hub higher even as that benchmark rocketed to 14-year highs. That’s not to say that constraints out of the Northeast aren’t on the horizon. But the market is now poised to escape the worst of it this year, despite the completion of the last major takeaway pipeline project in the region, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), being pushed out another year or longer, if it crosses the finish line at all. In today’s RBN blog, we provide an update on regional fundamentals and what recent trends mean for gas production growth and pricing in the region.

Monday, 06/13/2022

The Russian war against Ukraine has focused Europe on the issue of energy security, especially as it relates to natural gas. The continent has previously relied on Russia for more than 40% of its gas, but it now must scramble for new suppliers and alternative forms of energy. The matter is particularly urgent in a few countries along or very near the Russian border, including Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine itself. Fortunately, almost two years ago the three countries formed the “Lublin Triangle,” an alliance of sorts with the aim of enhancing military, cultural and economic cooperation while also supporting Ukraine’s prospective integration into the European Union and NATO. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the potential for developing a “New Gas Order” in Europe.

Sunday, 06/12/2022

An explosion June 8 at Freeport LNG, the 15.3 MMtpa (2 Bcf/d) export terminal on Quintana Island, TX, has knocked it offline at a time when the global market is already facing tight conditions because of the war in Ukraine and other factors. The explosion, fire and subsequent shutdown — which fortunately did not include any injuries — sent U.S. natural gas tumbling off recent highs and shot global gas prices higher. Much is still unknown about the developing situation, including exactly how long the outage will last. While Freeport has said it expects the terminal to be offline for at least three weeks, multiple regulatory agencies have investigations underway and will likely need to approve a return to service. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the latest news from Freeport LNG and run through the potential market implications, starting with impacts to the U.S. gas market.

Thursday, 06/02/2022

The momentum for North American LNG right now is incredible. With Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian natural gas supplies boosting long-term LNG demand in the continent and Asian demand expected to grow even further, there has been a strong push for new LNG projects in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, with enough commercial support and capital present to advance at least some of them to construction and operation. Venture Global on May 25 reached a final investment decision on Phase 1 of Plaquemines LNG, the first North American project to take FID since Energía Costa Azul LNG in 2020. But it’s unlikely to be the last. Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Stage III is likely to follow in the coming months and support is coalescing around a handful of other projects too. So far this year, more than 20 MMtpa of long-term, binding commitments tied to new North American LNG capacity have been signed, propelling a new wave of LNG projects towards FID. In today’s RBN blog, we take a look at the trends in the recent commercial commitments.

Tuesday, 05/31/2022

Just like there’s room for Amazon and Etsy in the e-commerce world — one for mass marketers and the other for artisans — there’s room in the energy industry for both large- and small-scale LNG companies and plants. By focusing on the development of niche markets and scaling their production and distribution operations accordingly, a number of smaller (but growing) players in the LNG space have been making natural gas available to a surprising variety of customers: from industrial, oil-and-gas and mining companies to rocket launchers, Caribbean resorts and island utilities. ESG is a big driver — the LNG supplied often replaces diesel, fuel oil and propane, which can have bigger carbon impacts. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series on small-scale LNG with a look at a cross-section of key players in this space and how they’ve been growing their businesses.

Monday, 05/30/2022

Natural gas futures prices have rocketed to 14-year highs in the past couple of months — during the lower-demand spring months, no less — and they are now trading at 3x where they were at this time last year. The CME/NYMEX Henry Hub futures for June delivery shot up to a high of $9.40/MMBtu in intraday trading last Thursday, the highest level we’ve seen since summer 2008, before expiring at $8.908/MMBtu, nearly $6 (~200%) higher than the June 2021 expiration settlement at just under $3/MMBtu. The newly prompt July futures retreated ~17 cents Friday to about $8.73/MMBtu, but that’s still nearly triple where July futures traded last year. It’s safe to say the low fuel cost of gas-fired power generation that defined the Shale Era has evaporated. Historically, at today’s sky-high prices, gas would have given up market share to coal in the power sector. However, the coal market is battling its own supply shortage and Eastern U.S. coal prices are at record highs. What does that mean for generation fuel costs and fuel switching? In today’s RBN blog, we break down the math for comparing gas vs. coal fuel costs.

Thursday, 05/19/2022

The race is heating up for building natural gas pipeline takeaway capacity out of the Permian. Associated gas production from the crude-focused basin is at record highs this month and gaining momentum, which means that without additional pipeline capacity, the Permian is headed for serious pipeline constraints — and potentially negative pricing — by late this year or early next, which would, in turn, limit crude oil production growth there. Midstreamers are jockeying for the pole position to move surplus gas from the increasingly constrained basin to LNG export markets along the Gulf Coast. One of the contenders, Matterhorn Express Pipeline (MXP), a joint venture (JV) between WhiteWater, EnLink Midstream Partners, Devon Energy and MPLX, announced its final investment decision (FID) late yesterday. In today’s RBN blog, we provide new details on the greenfield project.

Wednesday, 05/18/2022

In the nearly 60 years since its inception, the LNG industry has changed significantly. Once a market in which cargoes were sold under long-term, point-to-point contracts in dedicated ships, it has evolved into one in which destination flexibility accounts for an increasing share of LNG trade, with more volumes being sold under short- and medium-term contracts. The changes reflect a trend toward the increasing commoditization of LNG, with the similarities between the LNG and crude oil markets becoming apparent. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the differences in how the oil and LNG markets have developed, whether LNG might achieve the same commodity status as oil, and why the major market players may not want LNG to follow the path of its older cousin.

Monday, 05/09/2022

Production bottlenecks and global energy security concerns stemming from the Ukraine war have flipped the script on various aspects of the U.S. energy markets. One of them is the softening of Wall Street and regulatory resistance to investment in new hydrocarbon infrastructure. That’s been particularly good news for the swarm of LNG export projects looking to move forward. It’s also improved somewhat the prospects for the embattled Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), the last major greenfield project for moving natural gas out of the Northeast from the Appalachian Basin. A court vacated three of the project’s key federal authorizations earlier this year, but the project recently got a greenlight when the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) approved MVP’s amendment certificate application. Equitrans Midstream said last week that it would pursue new permits and target in-service in the second half of 2023. But the prospect of more legal challenges looms, and the question is, will it get across the finish line before severe constraints arise? In today’s RBN blog, we provide an update on the Appalachian gas market.

Thursday, 05/05/2022

A tight coal market and record-high coal prices in the Eastern U.S. have suppressed gas-to-coal switching in recent months, despite the gas market also contending with a supply squeeze and gas prices trading at Shale Era highs. The coal-market constraints have contributed to record, or near-record, gas demand in the power sector, with gas gaining market share of total generation fuel demand — in spite of wind and solar increasing their share of the pie. Generation fuel dynamics were a driving factor in the tighter gas market balances this past winter and also play a role in how power grids balance cost and reliability during times of extreme customer demand, such as the record-breaking heat wave expected to hit Texas in the coming days. In today’s RBN blog, we take a look at power generation fuel economics, particularly the fuel-switching phenomenon and its underlying drivers.

Wednesday, 05/04/2022

The first Saturday in May is only a couple of days away, so brush off your seersucker jacket or find that Kentucky Derby hat, as it’s the only time of year most Americans watch an actual horse race. That’s kind of how it goes with the Permian natural gas market as well, with only intermittent interest from general gas market participants, usually when there’s a pipeline capacity issue leading to a noticeable impact on prices. Now is one of those times. Permian gas production is racing higher and the pipelines to get gas to market are quickly getting jammed up. Daily prices in the Permian are trading about 10% lower than those in Louisiana and the forward basis markets suggest they will deteriorate further in the months ahead. Naturally, midstream companies are quickly trotting out new pipeline projects, but sorting out the contenders is much like picking the winner on Saturday. You need data and at least a little luck, and we’re here to help out with the former. In today’s RBN blog, we lay out what we know and how we view the Permian gas pipeline derby.

Thursday, 04/28/2022

Extreme blizzard conditions wreaked havoc on North Dakota energy infrastructure last weekend, taking offline as much as 60% of the state’s crude oil production and more than 80% of natural gas output, and leaving utility poles and power lines strewn across the landscape. On the gas side, the unprecedented supply loss is having a never-before-seen impact on regional and upstream flows and storage activity. It is also compounding maintenance-related production declines in other basins, leaving Lower 48 natural gas output at its lowest since early February. Moreover, the extent of the storm-related damage to local infrastructure could prolong the supply recovery. In today’s RBN blog, we break down the aftereffects of the offseason winter storm on regional gas market fundamentals.