In 2019, there has been a significant shift in crude oil and natural gas markets. Prices have remained stubbornly low, even when faced with the risk of significant turmoil like the Saudi drone attacks. Investors are far less forgiving, and energy-related equity values continue to lag most other sectors, despite most companies returning more of their earnings to shareholders. Oil and gas producers are focused on their sweetest of sweet spots, wringing every crumb of financial return from their investments. The risk-return equation has changed. All this makes now a good time to examine the strategies and tactics necessary for survival in this challenging phase of the Shale Era. That is especially true for the players who seem to be doing everything right, because some of the worst management mistakes can occur when performance is good.
As exports of crude oil, natural gas and NGLs have surged, U.S. markets for these energy commodities have undergone radical transformations. Exports now dominate the supply/demand equilibrium. These markets simply would not clear at today’s production levels, much less at the volumes coming on over the next few years, if not for access to global markets. It is more important than ever to understand how the markets for crude, gas and NGLs are tied together, and how the interdependencies among the commodities will impact the future of energy supply, demand, exports and, ultimately, prices. Making sense of these energy market fundamentals is what RBN’s School of Energy is about. Warning! Today’s blog is a blatant commercial for our upcoming Houston conference. But we hope you will read on, because this time around, our curriculum includes all the topics we have always covered at School of Energy, PLUS five all-new sessions dedicated to export markets.
All this talk of trade wars is one more thing for U.S. oil and gas producers to worry about. That’s because overseas exports are the only thing balancing natural gas and NGL markets, and increasingly crude oil also relies on exports to clear light-sweet volumes from U.S. shale plays. More than half of propane produced in the U.S. already moves out of the country via ship, with China, Japan and South Korea among the highest-volume destination markets. Only about 3 Bcf/d of natural gas has been exported as LNG over the past few months, but there was only one lower-48 LNG export terminal operating until last week. In a year there will be six terminals pumping out LNG to overseas markets. And so far this year, an average of 1.4 MMb/d of crude oil — one-seventh of U.S. production — has reached the waterborne export market, not including all the gasoline and distillate exports. As exports assume an ever-larger role in U.S. hydrocarbon markets, it is important to consider ramifications of possible constraints on exports, including the potential for trade retaliation in response to President Trump’s recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum. Exports, one of the key topics we’ll consider at our upcoming School of Energy — Spring 2018, is the subject of today’s blog.
Crude oil production over 10 million barrels per day, just a fraction of a percent away from the November 1970 all-time record. Natural gas and NGLs already well above their respective record production levels. And for all three commodities, the U.S. market has only one way to balance: exports. One-third of all NGL production is getting exported, 15% of crude production now regularly moves overseas, and the completion of several new LNG export facilities will soon have more than 10% of U.S. gas hitting the water. The implications are enormous. Prices of U.S. hydrocarbons are now inextricably linked to global energy markets. It works both ways — U.S. prices move in lock step with international markets, and international markets are buffeted by increasing supplies from the U.S. It’s a whole new energy market out there, and that’s the theme for our upcoming School of Energy — Spring 2018 — that we summarize in today’s blog. Warning — this is a subliminal advertorial for our upcoming conference in Houston.
For the past three years, the price for U.S. WTI crude oil at Cushing has remained close to $50/bbl while natural gas at the Henry Hub has gravitated in a range around $3.00/MMbtu. It has been one of the most stable periods of energy prices in decades. But below the surface of stability at the major hubs, prices at the regional level have been wildly volatile, driving dramatic swings in geographic basis. Alternating cycles of basis blowouts followed by basis collapses have become standard fare for U.S. oil, gas and NGLs as producers ramp up production, local prices get hammered due to capacity constraints, midstream companies respond by (over) building infrastructure, and regional price differentials implode due to overcapacity. With more production growth and infrastructure on the way, these basis cycles will keep on coming. In today’s blog, we’ll consider a few of the market sectors particularly susceptible to basis volatility, and provide a subliminal advertorial for our upcoming School of Energy, where we explore both the underlying causes and the outlook for future basis cycles.
Today’s energy markets are being rocked by new technologies, massive flow shifts to exports, and a myriad of new midstream infrastructure projects — to say nothing of the continuing onslaught of Mother Nature. It is more important than ever to understand how the markets for crude oil, natural gas and NGLs are tied together, and that is why it is time again for RBN’s School of Energy. But … this is not the best time for our Houston conference venue. So we’ve made the decision to GO VIRTUAL! We will webcast the entire School in real-time, with the same content, the same faculty and the same models. And since an understanding of the new realities of today’s energy markets is so essential, we have renewed, restructured and rebuilt our curriculum to CONNECT THE DOTS across our content, data and models. That’s the theme for our upcoming School of Energy 2017 – Virtual Edition, which we summarize in today’s advertorial blog.
If you missed the Golden State Warriors’ NBA Championship win last week, or an unbelievable putt at the U.S. Open this weekend you can always see it on ESPN’s SportsCenter. But what if you missed the most recent RBN School of Energy? Well, you’re in luck — we’re now offering 11 hours of video from SOE, which unlike other natural gas, crude oil or NGL conferences covers all three markets with hands-on course work. In each of the seven streaming-video modules, we drill down on an important aspect of the markets, explain how it works and provide spreadsheet models accompanied with instructional videos. Fair warning: Today’s blog is an unabashed advertorial.
For the past month, WTI crude oil prices have averaged $49/bbl, trading within a relatively narrow $7/bbl range. Two years ago, this price would have been devastating for producers, but not so in late 2016. The crude directed rig count is up by 127 since May, +11 just last week. U.S. crude production is down about 1.2 MMb/d since April 2015, but over the past three months has stabilized at 8.5 MMb/d. On the gas side, since the second quarter of 2016 a combination of lower natural gas production and higher demand (from the power, industrial and export sectors) has worked off a big inventory surplus. Consequently, U.S. natural gas prices are up more than 70% since March, even considering the big price drop over the past week. NGL prices are at the highest value relative to crude for any October since 2012. Is this it? Is this what a Shale Era recovery looks like? In today’s blog, we consider a possible road map for the next couple of years. Warning, we have also included a short infomercial for RBN’s School of Energy next week in Houston.
U.S. crude oil prices languish below $50/bbl, but the oil-directed rig count is up by 90, an increase of almost 30% over the past 12 weeks. Natural gas production is down less than 1% from the all-time high hit back in February even though the price of natural gas remains below $3/MMbtu. The price spread between U.S. propane and international markets is far below a level that should justify exports, but LPG exports to overseas markets continue at astronomical levels –– approaching 700 Mb/d, most of which is propane. What’s wrong with this picture? Why does it seem that relationships between energy production, demand and prices have broken down, or at least have undergone some fundamental shift? That is what our upcoming School of Energy Fall 2016 is all about. Warning: Today’s blog includes a commercial for our upcoming Houston conference, scheduled for November 2 and 3 at The Houstonian Hotel.
Crude oil and natural gas prices are back from the abyss, but does that mean the long awaited recovery is underway? Maybe so. But maybe not. Energy markets are fickle, driven by a chain of interactions where one market event triggers another, and then another. Rusty Braziel’s best-selling book, The Domino Effect, explores 30 such market events, which are represented by dominoes – hence the title of the book. More dominoes are falling now and still more will fall in years to come. This book explains the interconnectedness of energy markets through an analysis of energy market fundamentals: prices, flows, infrastructure, value, and economics. And good news for fans of audio books: The Domino Effect is now available on Amazon in Audible format. Today’s blog, an advertorial for the audio book, highlights what The Domino Effect has to say about what’s going on now.
Did you miss our School of Energy a few weeks back in Houston? Not a problem! The entire School of Energy conference is now available online in streaming video format. The conference video, presentation slides and spreadsheet models are available for purchase as individual Modules or as a full conference package. It’s the next best thing to being there! School of Energy is unlike other natural gas, NGL or crude oil conferences. It combines all three! And the curriculum includes a comprehensive analysis of current energy markets and in-depth instruction on how to use RBN spreadsheet models covering everything from production economics to gas processing. We walk through key developments for each of the three hydrocarbons including the increasingly important links between them. Fair warning – today’s blog is a blatant advertorial.
In a $38 Billion transaction announced September 28, 2015, Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) agreed to gobble up The Williams Companies in a deal expected to close during the first half of 2016. The combination of these two companies creates a U.S. midstream giant that will own infrastructure including gas pipelines carrying as much as 45% of U.S. Lower 48 dry gas production, processing capacity producing16% of domestic natural gas liquids (NGL’s) and crude oil pipelines in the Permian, Eagle Ford and Bakken. Today we take a look at the liquids infrastructure assets in this giant deal and provide a download of RBN’s maps of the infrastructure involved.
For nearly two months -- Since late July -- WTI crude oil prices have averaged $45/bbl, never once closing above the $50/bbl mark. Over the same period, the natural gas price at Henry Hub has averaged $2.70/MMbtu and now languishes $.20/MMbtu lower. Is this a time to be wallowing in misery and self-pity? Absolutely not!! This is the time for midstreamers and producers to reposition their businesses with a laser-like focus on the opportunities that low prices have served up. There are bargains out there in the oil (and gas) patch. If producers are in the right locations, with drilling costs much lower than last year, there is good money to be made. And likewise, opportunities abound for midstreamers to pick up assets at very attractive prices to get that production to market. But to execute such a strategy, you must have a rock-solid understanding of what is really going on in today’s markets for crude oil, NGLs and natural gas. Our goal for the upcoming State of the Energy Markets Conference scheduled for October 28, 2015 in Denver, CO is just exactly that - to give you a rock-solid market knowledge based on hard data and thorough analysis. Today’s blog is an advertorial for the conference.
Another round of big changes are coming to the markets for natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and crude oil. The surging production growth that has characterized these markets has slowed and in some basins is starting to fall as the mass exodus of drilling rigs begins to take its toll on shale production. But what about all that infrastructure that has been and continues to be built? Billions of dollars are going into pipelines, processing plants, petrochemical plants, terminals, storage, etc. based on a much higher production growth scenario than now seems likely. Where are the opportunities in this new energy market reality? The answer depends on a discernable pattern of events tied to production volumes, infrastructure capacity, commodity flows and project expenditures. Those are the themes of our latest State of the Energy Markets Conference scheduled for October 28, 2015 in Denver, CO as well as the subject of today’s blog – also an advertorial for the conference.
There are only three more days to take advantage of the Early Bird Rate for RBN’s next School of Energy, and there are three more reasons to attend! We have finalized the agenda for the first day we are calling Pre-School International Energy Day, with three additional experts joining us to discuss international destination markets for U.S. crude oil, gas, and NGLs, including the regulatory issues involved and the latest developments concerning Federal approval of full-blown crude oil exports. The full three day School of Energy is scheduled for September 28, 29 and 30. As we’ve said many times before, this is nothing like other conferences! The course work is hands-on. In each module we’ll drill down on an important aspect of the market, explain how it works, download a spreadsheet model and learn how to use it. Be forewarned - today’s blog is a commercial for our upcoming Houston conference.