RBN 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. 

Analyst Insights

Analyst Insights are unique perspectives provided by RBN analysts about energy markets developments. The Insights may cover a wide range of information, such as industry trends, fundamentals, competitive landscape, or other market rumblings. These Insights are designed to be bite-size but punchy analysis so that readers can stay abreast of the most important market changes.

By Adam Baker - Thursday, 2/22/2024 (3:30 pm)

Freeport LNG’s inert gas problem has reared its head once more.

By Martin King - Thursday, 2/22/2024 (3:15 pm)

Data reported by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) for Western Canada’s propane inventories (left hand chart in top figure below) were reported to be 4.76 MMb, a well below average drop of 0.87 MMb versus December, but are 0.91 MMb (+24%) above the five-year average.

Recently Published Reports

Report Title Published
LNG Voyager LNG Voyager Weekly - February 21, 2024 1 day 14 hours ago
NATGAS Billboard NATGAS Billboard - February 21, 2024 1 day 15 hours ago
NGL Voyager NGL Voyager - February 21, 2024 1 day 15 hours ago
Canadian Natgas Billboard Canadian NATGAS Billboard - February 21, 2024 1 day 16 hours ago
Crude Oil Permian Crude Oil Permian - February 21, 2024 1 day 16 hours ago

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Daily Energy Blog

Category:
Financial

There’s been a lot of M&A activity the past couple of years among oil and gas producers — midstreamers too. That makes sense. Joining forces can provide all kinds of opportunities: for synergy, economies of scale, and expansion within (or into) key production areas, to name just a few. Well, energy-industry consolidation isn’t limited to E&Ps and midstream companies. Just recently, two major providers of contract compression services — critical to the gathering and processing of natural gas in the Permian and other plays — announced that they will be combining to form what they say will be the largest firm in that space. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at the gas compression services sector and the plan by Kodiak Gas Services to acquire CSI Compressco LP. 

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

The demand for ethane by Alberta’s petrochemical industry has experienced a slow expansion in the past 20 or so years. However, that demand is likely to increase sharply by the end of the decade now that Dow Chemical has sanctioned a major expansion at its operations in Fort Saskatchewan, AB, that will more than double the site’s ethane requirements. As we discuss in today’s RBN blog, this will call for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to increasing Alberta’s access to ethane supplies from numerous sources. 

Category:
Government & Regulatory

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments January 17 in a pair of cases that are poised to capsize the so-called Chevron Deference, a 40-year-old legal doctrine that provides a key foundation for modern administrative law. It’s a big deal – big enough that we’re willing to wade into a little bit of legalese to help make sense of it. So strap in because in today’s RBN blog, we’ll explain what the Chevron Deference is, why it’s worth knowing about, how it applies to two cases that could alter its application, and how a ruling that limits or eliminates the doctrine’s usage and application could transform energy industry regulation.

Category:
Natural Gas

We’ve been saying for a while now that the natural gas storage market may be on the verge of a comeback. At the same time, we’ve cautioned that the world has changed since the heyday of gas storage in the mid-to-late 2000s, and that while market participants are clamoring for storage solutions and storage values are rising, what’s driving storage values today is vastly different than what drove the last big capacity build-out (which resulted in a major storage overbuild). As a result, only a handful of storage projects meeting special needs in particular places are likely to reach a final investment decision (FID). In today’s RBN blog, we discuss one such project: a greenfield storage facility under construction at two depleted dry-gas reservoirs 90 miles southeast of Dallas.

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

After a roughly three-year wait for a critical state permit, Enbridge’s Great Lakes Tunnel and Pipe Replacement project for its Line 5 pipeline across the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan has taken a step forward. The Army Corps of Engineers’ permits for the tunnel project would seem to be the only major obstacle standing in the way of construction, but there may well be more challenges ahead. Like a few other oil and gas projects — namely, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) — Line 5 has become entangled in controversy, including local opposition worried that a spill would irreparably damage their surroundings and spoil the state’s natural resources. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the Line 5 project, its next steps, and the opposition it continues to encounter. 

Category:
Government & Regulatory

Folks not directly involved in the FERC’s rate-setting process for interstate gas pipelines may think it’s a largely mechanical — and painfully boring — activity. But the process is actually often incredibly dynamic, with a lot of give-and-take among pipeline representatives, pipeline customers and FERC staffers, all aimed at reaching an agreement on rates that everyone involved can live with. We recently explained the “formal process” and (informal, confidential) “settlement process” that usually play out along parallel tracks. In today’s RBN blog, we expand on our look at the rate-setting process for gas pipelines with a few more nuances of how negotiated resolution really works. 

Category:
Energy

Think energy markets are getting back to normal? After all, prices have been relatively stable, production is growing at a healthy rate, and infrastructure bottlenecks are front and center again. Just like the good ol’ days, right? Absolutely not. It’s a whole new energy world out there, with unexpected twists and turns around every corner — everything from regional hostilities, renewables subsidies, disruptions at shipping pinch points, pipeline capacity shortfalls and all sorts of other quirky variables. There’s just no way to predict what is going to happen next, right? Nah. All we need to do is stick our collective RBN necks out one more time, peer into our crystal ball, and see what 2024 has in store for us. 

Category:
Government & Regulatory

The rates regulators set for transporting natural gas on interstate pipelines are all-important. They determine how much it costs to get gas from A to B, whether new capacity can be funded, and serve as the bedrock of regional gas price relationships around the nation’s pipeline grid. But the process for establishing those rates can seem opaque and is often misunderstood — it’s one of those things you need to be directly involved in to fully grasp. Well, RBN’s Advisory Practice lives and breathes gas pipeline rate cases month in, month out, and we thought it would be interesting — and kind of fun — to take you behind the curtain and explain how rate cases at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) really play out. 

Category:
Energy

A year ago, as New Year’s Day approached, we were looking ahead into very uncertain market conditions, having lived through a pandemic, crazy weather events, collapsing and then soaring prices, and Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. Our job was once again to peer into the RBN crystal ball to see what the upcoming year had in store for energy markets. We’ll do that again in our next blog. But another part of that tradition is to look back to see how we did with our forecasts for the previous year. That’s right! We actually check our work. And that’s exactly what we’ll do today: review our prognostications for 2023. 

Category:
Crude Oil

Crude oil, natural gas and NGL production roared back in 2023. All three energy commodity groups hit record volumes, which means one thing: more infrastructure is needed. That means gathering systems, pipelines, processing plants, refinery units, fractionators, storage facilities and, above all, export dock capacity. That’s because most of the incremental production is headed overseas — U.S. energy exports are on the rise! If 2023’s dominant story line was production growth, exports and (especially) the need for new infrastructure, you can bet our blogs on those topics garnered more than their share of interest from RBN’s subscribers. Today we dive into our Top 10 blogs to uncover the hottest topics in 2023 energy markets. 

Category:
Financial

The end of one year and the start of another provides a perfect opportunity to take stock — in this case, to examine total shareholder returns for the institutional and individual investors holding stock in oil and gas producers. As it turns out, 2023 was a mixed bag, with gas-focused E&Ps generally benefiting from a rebound in gas prices (current and future), oil-focused companies taking a hit, and diversified producers ending up somewhere in between. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our review of E&Ps’ total shareholder returns (TSR) with a look at Gas-Weighted and Diversified E&Ps. 

Category:
Financial

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Javan rhino and the Amur leopard top the global list of most endangered species. Broadening the scope, in 2014-20 we probably would have added the E&P investor to the list, as shareholder returns plunged deep into negative territory for seven consecutive years on volatile commodity prices and massive industry overspending. Almost miraculously, a combination of higher prices and a strategic shift to distribute cash flow to equity holders resulted in record shareholder returns that brought investors back into the fold. However, weakening prices and significant increases in investment have dramatically shrunk returns this year. As we discuss in today’s RBN blog, total shareholder returns in 2023 were mixed: good for gas-focused E&Ps but less so for diversified and oil-focused producers. 

Category:
Natural Gas Liquids

Since the start of the Shale Revolution 15 years ago, U.S. NGL production has increased by an extraordinary 260% to more than 6.5 MMb/d. And it’s not just NGL production that’s up sharply. So are exports of NGL purity products, especially LPG (propane and normal butane) and ethane. All that growth — and the growth that’s still to come — wouldn’t be possible without a seemingly non-stop expansion of NGL-related infrastructure. Everything from gas processing plants and NGL pipelines to salt-dome storage, fractionators and export docks. And much of that infrastructure is in the hands of just a few large midstream companies that over the years have developed “well-to-water” NGL networks that enable their owners to collect multiple fees along the NGL value chain. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our new Drill Down Report on NGL networks. 

Category:
Crude Oil

It seems like everyone has an opinion about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), and everyone is at least a little bit right. For example, many assert the SPR provides a helpful crude oil supply buffer in the event of a major disruption from, say, a strong hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico or a war in the Middle East. Others say the market can take care of itself — the SPR just muddies the waters by getting government (and worse yet, politicians!) involved. Still others say the oil market has changed dramatically since the SPR was established almost a half-century ago and that the strategy behind the reserve should be revised in response to those changes. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the very gradual refilling of the SPR after a big draining — and an ongoing debate about the reserve’s future.

Category:
Government & Regulatory

The rates regulators set for transporting natural gas on interstate pipelines are all-important. They determine how much it costs to get gas from A to B, whether new capacity can be funded, and serve as the bedrock of regional gas price relationships around the nation’s pipeline grid. But the process for establishing those rates can seem opaque and is often misunderstood — it’s one of those things you need to be directly involved in to fully grasp. Well, RBN’s Advisory Practice lives and breathes gas pipeline rate cases month in, month out, and we thought it would be interesting — and kind of fun — to take you behind the curtain and explain how rate cases at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) really play out.