The price of the Tier 3 gasoline sulfur credit hit $3,600 in October, up by a factor of 10 from two years ago and roughly in line with the all-time highs seen in late 2019. This tradable credit allows refiners to sell gasoline that exceeds the sulfur specification on gasoline sold in the U.S. In today’s RBN blog, we examine what’s behind the credit’s steep and steady rise — and why it matters.
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.
Crude oil prices continued their retreat Friday as the market remained unimpressed by production cuts announced Thursday by OPEC+. WTI dropped $1.89 to close at $74.07/bbl, while Brent fell by $1.98 to settle at $78.88/bbl. Both benchmarks fell by nearly 2.5%.
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Daily Energy Blog
Well, thanks to you all, we reached another important milestone this week: 40,000 subscribers to RBN’s daily blog. We are quite proud of the achievement. That’s a lot of folks taking time out of their busy day to read a couple thousand words about what’s happening with oil, gas, NGLs and renewables — all in the context of a rock & roll song. We couldn’t have done it without you. Today, after posting a total of about 3,000 blogs over nearly 12 years, we pull back the curtain on the RBN blogosphere and discuss how and why it all happens — and how you help shape what we blog about.
Over the past couple of years, a growing number of natural gas producers — from global integrateds like ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP to E&Ps large, medium and small — have contracted with entities like MiQ and Project Canary to scrutinize their upstream operations and score their relative success in minimizing methane emissions. By some estimates, as much as one-third of U.S. gas production is already “certified” or “differentiated,” and with growing interest in “low-emissions” gas among domestic and international buyers the trend seems likely to accelerate. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our look at certified/differentiated gas with a review of the gas producers leading the way.
The price discount for Western Canada’s benchmark heavy crude oil has seen yet another widening in the past few months. Increased pipeline access to the U.S. was believed to be the key to solving this problem in the long term, but more recent fundamental developments surrounding pipeline egress, refinery demand and increasing heavy oil supplies demonstrate that larger discounts can — and do — still happen. This problem could persist for several more months until a better balance is achieved in downstream markets. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the latest drivers of the wider price discounts for Western Canada’s heavy oil.
Six months ago, the U.S. West Coast natural gas market looked like it was in dire straits. A harsh winter had depleted stocks to the lowest level in over a decade and it seemed like the region would be hard-pressed to refill storage to a reasonable level, given limited and constrained pipeline options to flow incremental gas west. Instead, a combination of mild weather and operational changes eased demand and pipeline constraints, and Pacific Region storage staged a remarkable comeback this summer. In today’s RBN blog, we delve into how the region escaped a worst-case scenario heading into the heating season.
Phillips 66 is probably best known for its fleet of complex refineries, but the Houston-based company also is involved in marketing, chemicals and midstream services. In fact, P66 is one of only a handful of midstreamers offering the full range of “well-to-market” or “well-to-water” NGL services — everything from associated-gas gathering systems and gas processing to NGL pipelines, storage, fractionators and export facilities. And P66’s standing among NGL midstream providers has only been enhanced by the recent doubling of its ownership interest in DCP Midstream. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series on major NGL networks with a look at P66’s NGL-related assets, most of which run from the Rockies, West Texas and South Texas to the NGL hubs in Mont Belvieu and Old Ocean, TX.
LNG export projects looking to take a positive final investment decision (FID) need to sell a high proportion of their nameplate capacity under long-term contracts to ensure sufficient cash flows to underpin the project and obtain financing. U.S.-based projects (new and expansions) totaling more than 350 million tons per annum (MMtpa, 48.3 Bcf/) — against a current global market of 400 MMtpa (52.9 Bcf/d) — are vying for creditworthy offtakers from multiple markets in their pre-FID deliberations. The sense of urgency among project sponsors has been boosted by the Russia/Ukraine war and a potentially resurgent Chinese economy, both of which should promise a bright future for new projects. Plenty of those have reached FID in the last couple of years, but what is holding others back from taking the same step? In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at some of the factors impacting those decisions and the long-term implications that flow from them.
Every state has its unique set of advantages and challenges, but very few face the number of contrasts that makes New York and its ambitious decarbonization goals so interesting. The Empire State ranks fourth in population (behind California, Texas and Florida) and is home to the biggest city in the country, yet most of the state would be considered rural. It has the nation's third-largest economy, but because its key industries — including financial and business services — are not energy-intensive, and many in the New York City area use mass transit, its per-capita energy use is lower than all but two states (Hawaii and Rhode Island). And while the state gets about 30% of its power from renewable sources (most of it large-scale hydropower), solar and wind generation are still very limited there. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how the state’s plans to ramp up renewable generation — which have long been plagued by problems with incentives, permitting and project cancellations — are running headlong into the difficulties of adding so many resources in a short period of time.
When Navigator CO2 Ventures decided to pull the plug on its long-planned Heartland Greenway project, a vast network that would have captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from dozens of ethanol producers in the Midwest and Great Plains then piped them hundreds of miles for permanent sequestration, it was a significant setback for the Biden administration’s climate goals. More than that, it showed how large-scale carbon-capture projects face opposition from seemingly all sides and how the lack of a meaningful regulatory framework at the federal level only adds to the industry’s challenges. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the Heartland Greenway cancellation, what it says about the future of similar projects, and what regulatory changes might be needed at the federal level to make large-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) a reality.
Certified or differentiated natural gas — an upgrade from the old “responsibly sourced gas” — is on the rise. More and more producers, pipeline companies, gas utilities and LNG exporters and buyers want their gas to be certified as having a lower emissions profile, and for a variety of reasons, chief among them achieving their ESG goals and winning over ESG-minded investors and customers. But while there’s a consensus that methane and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can and should be reduced significantly, there are differing views about the best ways to monitor wells, pipelines and other infrastructure for methane leaks, measure total emissions, and ensure that emission reductions are real and sustainable. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our deep dive on certified/differentiated gas with a look at the approaches the leading certification/differentiation entities and others are taking in emission monitoring, measuring and scoring.
Continued growth in Permian crude oil production can’t happen without sufficient infrastructure — not just takeaway capacity for crude, natural gas and NGLs but also the capacity to process the fast-increasing volumes of associated gas being produced in the Midland and Delaware basins. The incremental need for processing capacity is enormous, as evidenced by the ongoing, almost frenetic build-out of gas processing plants across the Permian. More than 1 Bcf/d of new capacity is slated to come online by the end of this year, with another 1.9 Bcf/d in the first half of 2024 and another 1.8 Bcf/d after that. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the race to add processing plants in key locations in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico and the drivers behind it.
Rumors about potential oil and gas mergers are always swirling, but the announcement of ExxonMobil’s record-breaking deal to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources a couple of weeks ago generated a fever pitch of speculation about potential matchups. In the past week, we’ve seen media reports of possible courtships between Devon Energy and Marathon Oil and then Chesapeake Energy and Southwestern Energy. However, it was Chevron that shocked the oil patch by swiping right on former integrated oil company Hess Corp., opting for a $60 billion acquisition of an E&P with no Permian Basin exposure. In today’s RBN blog, we analyze the drivers and implications of what is now the second-largest U.S. upstream transaction ever.
Plans to greatly expand the production of low-carbon energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be found just about everywhere, from national and international policy discussions to debates at the state and local levels. Given the potential for dramatic economic, social, and geopolitical impacts over the coming decades, it’s no surprise that top-down mandates for a transition to a more renewables-centric energy mix and away from fossil fuels can stir up concern over the pace, scale, and ultimate effectiveness of such a massive undertaking. In some places, like California, critical voices are largely drowned out. In other spots, apprehension may fester just below the surface. But in a state like Texas that identifies so closely with the energy industry, the conversation is right out in the open. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how that debate is playing out in Texas, where renewable energy is booming in a state known for fossil fuels.
Ongoing M&A activity in the upstream portion of the oil and gas industry has garnered a lot of attention, most recently regarding ExxonMobil’s planned $64.5 billion acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources. But there’s also been a lot of consolidation in the midstream space as the companies that gather, process, transport, store and export hydrocarbons seek to gain the scale, scope and synergies they think they will need to succeed in an increasingly competitive industry. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our newly released Drill Down report on the major midstream deals of 2022 and 2023 to date.
Storage has long been a critically important balancing mechanism in the Lower 48 natural gas market. Now, after languishing for much of the Shale Era, storage values are coming out of the doldrums. The key driver behind this change is that, unlike in the old days, when the storage market was driven primarily by the intrinsic value of capacity — i.e., the need to sock away gas in the lower-demand summer months for use in the peak winter months — the value of storage is being driven almost exclusively by extrinsic economics — i.e., how flexible and responsive capacity allows market participants to manage supply and demand during short-term market swings. This flexibility and responsiveness have become increasingly important criteria for ensuring reliability as LNG export facilities and an increasingly renewables-heavy power sector navigate frequent demand fluctuations day to day, or even intraday, as well as during high-stakes, extreme weather events like 2021’s Winter Storm Uri. In today’s RBN blog, we delve into the fundamental shifts influencing today’s storage market.
Many governments around the world are looking for ways to incentivize reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and two approaches have received the most attention: cap-and-trade and a carbon tax. The European Union (EU) has chosen the former, Canada has opted for the latter, and the U.S. — well, that’s still to be determined. It’s logical for oil and gas producers, refiners and others in carbon-intensive industries to wonder, what does it all mean for us? In today’s RBN blog, we look at Canada’s carbon tax (which it refers to as a “carbon price”), explain how it works, and examine its current and future impacts on oil sands producers, bitumen upgraders and refiners.