RBN Energy

Thursday, 4/23/2015

The international market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is an inherently risky business where returns depend on paying back huge upfront infrastructure investments with cash flows based on volatile energy prices. Tectonic shifts in the market are giving North American LNG exporters and natural gas producers an opportunity to become pivotal players. The world is on the cusp of an LNG supply glut that may last several years, and the old order of long-term supply contracts with prices indexed to oil is being phased out in favor of a market structure that features more destination flexibility, more spot market sales—and, for U.S. and maybe some Canadian and Mexican LNG exporters—more liquefaction “tolling” deals with LNG prices linked to gas. Today, we continue our look at what these changes mean for the North American energy sector.

Daily energy Posts

Wednesday, 04/22/2015
Category:
Natural Gas

The U.S. Northeast natural gas market thus far has been able to offset local production growth primarily by pushing out supply from other regions.  But recent trends in pipeline flows suggest that for the first time, net flows into the Northeast will fall to zero this summer, marking the end of displacement. Meanwhile, regional natural gas production could be as much as 4 Bcf/d higher this summer than last. The result could put this summer’s prices in a precarious position further challenging producers suffering in an oversupplied market. . Today’s blog looks at recent trends in Northeast flows and implications for prices this summer.

Tuesday, 04/21/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

Natural gas producers are probably turning green with envy: Processed condensate exports out of the US Gulf are strong and getting stronger. Since the Department of Commerce threw the doors open to the export of lightly processed condensate, new loading points have emerged, new target markets have been found, and more companies have become involved. Today we describe how attention is now turning from regulatory and logistical issues to the challenge of finding buyers.

Monday, 04/20/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

The flood of domestic light shale crude showing up at the Texas Gulf Coast by pipeline in the past two years is not best matched to most refineries in the region that are configured to run heavier crude. But flows across the Gulf Coast to refineries in the Mississippi Delta more suited to process light crude are constrained by a lack of pipeline capacity between Texas and Louisiana. New domestic shale crude has been delivered to eastern Gulf Coast terminals such as St. James by rail but narrowing coastal differentials to inland prices have reduced the CBR advantage. Today we detail how new pipeline projects promise to increase the flow of crude from Texas to the Eastern Gulf.

Sunday, 04/19/2015
Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

In the five years since natural gas production began to take off in Appalachia, volumes in the Marcellus and Utica basins have increased by a factor of 9X.  Much of that natural gas production growth is “wet” gas containing significant volumes of NGLs. Consequently NGL production volumes have skyrocketed and midstream development has been booming.  But building all this midstream infrastructure in Appalachia does not work the way it does in other high-growth shale plays.  Making sense out of Marcellus/Utica midstream infrastructure is the subject of RBN Energy’s latest Drill Down report, “Join Together With Demand--The Who and How of Marcellus/Utica Midstream”. In today’s blog, we provide highlights of the report and discuss what’s in store for the Marcellus/Utica over the next couple of years using our new Pipeline GIS mapping system to help tie all of the assets together.

Thursday, 04/16/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

The Plains All American (PAA) Cactus Pipeline comes online in the West Texas Permian this month (April 2015). Cactus will bring up to 250 Mb/d of crude and condensate from Midland and McCamey in the Permian to Gardendale, TX - the heart of the Eagle Ford shale – linking the two basins for the first time by pipeline.  It also forms a major component of an expanded pipeline and dock infrastructure owned by a combination of PAA and Enterprise Product Partners (EPD) set to deliver as much as 600 Mb/d of crude and condensate to Corpus Christi and 470 Mb/d to Houston by the end of 2015. Today we describe how a good deal of those deliveries will be processed condensate eligible for export.

Wednesday, 04/15/2015
Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Growing volumes of natural gas liquids (NGLs) produced in the Marcellus and Utica need to find a market – inside or outside the region.  Getting them to outside markets involves transportation by pipeline, rail, truck or barge. Local demand is either from traditional “legacy” customers that consume propane, butane and natural gasoline or from new ethane-consuming projects such as proposed ethylene crackers. What’s already been done to address the demand side of the NGL equation, and what’s being planned?  Today, we conclude our series on NGL infrastructure in the Upper Ohio River Valley with a look at where all those NGLs will be heading.

Tuesday, 04/14/2015
Category:
Natural Gas

Yesterday the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their 2015 Annual Energy Outlook that forecasts U.S. demand for natural gas to increase by as much as 42% from 2014’s 26 TCF/year to 37 TCF/year by 2040. That translates to 101 BCF/d and is predicated on long term supplies of relatively cheap gas! Can the U.S. produce that much gas over the long term?  Last week a group that is little known outside the natural gas industry – the Potential Gas Committee (PGC) provided an answer to that question when they announced their latest estimate of economically recoverable natural gas resources in the U.S. Today we analyze the impact of the latest PGC estimate and its long-term implications for the natural gas industry.

Monday, 04/13/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

Data from the new Energy Information Administration (EIA) monthly report on crude-by-rail (CBR) shows that shipments from Canada increased from less than 10 Mb/d two years ago in January 2012 to over 130 Mb/d in January 2015. The increase in CBR movements mirrors increasing Canadian crude exports to the U.S. – the majority of which are still pipeline movements. Today we look at the destination markets for Canadian CBR in the light of congested pipeline capacity out of Western Canada.

Sunday, 04/12/2015
Category:
Natural Gas

MarkWest Energy Partners is clearly the big dog in the Marcellus/Utica, with by far the largest gas processing and fractionation capacity there.

Thursday, 04/09/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

Data from the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) indicate that production in January 2015 slowed by 37 Mb/d from record levels over 1.2 MMb/d in December. The number of new well completions also slowed in January – leading to a large backlog of wells drilled and waiting to start producing. Lower production and completions are in part due to producer caution following the crude price crash last year but producers waiting for a North Dakota state tax break and the usual impact of winter weather could also be responsible. Today we describe how new state tax incentives could boost summer output back to record levels.

Wednesday, 04/08/2015
Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

The fast-growing need for natural gas processing and fractionation capacity in the Marcellus/Utica is creating tremendous opportunities for midstream companies. But determining which assets to develop and when to develop them is complicated by the volatility of hydrocarbon markets, and by the fact that the region has only minimal NGL storage capacity. In today’s blog, we continue our in-depth review of NGL-related infrastructure in the Upper Ohio River Valley with a look at Blue Racer’s existing and planned assets there.

Tuesday, 04/07/2015
Category:
Natural Gas

This year’s natural gas power burn is shaping up as a record-breaker, mostly because gas consumption needs to rise sharply to offset increased production and the power sector is best able to ramp up its gas use. But what will it take, gas-price-wise, for utilities and independent power producers to increase their 2015 power burn by 2, 3 or even 4 Bcf/d this year? And which parts of the U.S. are likely to see the most dramatic coal-to-gas switching? Today we continue our look at this year’s power burn and its significance to Marcellus and other gas producers.

Monday, 04/06/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

According to a new set of data released at the end of March by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), crude-by-rail (CBR) movements jumped from 20 Mb/d in January 2010 to almost 1 MMb/d by December 2014. The big increase in CBR shipments has coincided with a 71% increase in U.S. crude production and has successfully helped alleviate a number of pipeline transport constraints. While overall crude-by-rail volumes have grown in the past 5 years, favored origins and destinations have changed considerably as the midstream industry has successfully re-plumbed the pipeline network to handle new crude flows. Today we review the new EIA report data on rail.

Sunday, 04/05/2015
Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Natural gas processing in the Marcellus and Utica plays has quickly become a much larger—and more complex—business as major players race to keep up with fast-rising capacity needs and to ensure that the various elements of their infrastructure operate as an integrated, well-oiled “machine”. And, in a region with only minimal NGL storage capacity, one of that machine’s most important characteristics must be an ability to deal with all the “what-ifs” that could otherwise lead to logistical chaos, particularly those issues dealing with ethane. Today, we continue our in-depth review of Marcellus/Utica NGL infrastructure with a look at MarkWest’s innovative NGL network and distributed de-ethanization system.

Wednesday, 04/01/2015
Category:
Crude Oil

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest U.S. monthly crude production statistics published March 30th show January production down 135 Mb/d versus December 2014, the largest month-on-month decline since June 2011.  There was an earlier warning sign from EIA.  The agency’s Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) published March 9th predicted that production would decline in April in three major U.S. oil production regions – Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara. Since oil and NGL prices crashed last fall, the market has been watching with bated breath for the first signs of a production slowdown. Certainly rig counts have nosedived amid producer budget cuts in 2015. But are we really seeing the beginnings of a long-term slowdown just yet?  Was the DPR a harbinger of the January production decline? The clues lie within the DPR report.  Today’s blog parses DPR methodology, assumptions and risks as well as contributing market factors to get to the bottom of what is driving those reported production declines.