RBN Energy

Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022 was intended to unleash a wave of clean-energy initiatives, from hydrogen and renewable fuels to electric vehicles and large-scale carbon-capture projects, all part of the Biden administration’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and move the U.S. closer to a net-zero economy. But while billions in federal financing and tax credits have helped move many projects forward, they can only advance as fast as permitting, regulations and economic reality will allow. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the surge in proposed carbon-capture projects since passage of the IRA, where they are in the review process, and how the pace of permitting at the federal level compares with the states that have primacy over their own sequestration wells. 

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 Kristen Holmquist - Thursday, 6/20/2024 (3:00 pm)
Report Highlight: U.S. Propane Billboard

The EIA reported total U.S. propane/propylene inventories built by 1.6 MMbbl for the week ended June 14, well below industry expectations of 2.26 MMbbl and the average for the past five years. Storage is 8% lower than the same time last year.

By Kristen Hays - Thursday, 6/20/2024 (1:15 pm)

A federal appeals court this week ruled that a dispute with Michigan's attorney general regarding its Line 5 crude and NGL pipeline be handled in state court.

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Daily Energy Blog

Enbridge’s recent $200 million deal to buy two marine docks and land in Ingleside, TX, from Flint Hills Resources (FHR) may not be much of a surprise, as expanding its role in U.S. crude exports has been part of Enbridge’s strategy since it bought Moda Midstream’s big marine terminal next door nearly three years ago. The former Moda terminal, now known as the Enbridge Ingleside Energy Center (EIEC), can receive and partially load Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) — a key reason why the facility is #1 in crude exports in the nation. In today’s RBN blog, we will take a closer look at Enbridge’s deal with FHR and how it might help grow its crude export volumes. 

Crude oil output in the Permian Basin is now averaging 6.3 MMb/d, up about 400 Mb/d from year-ago levels and 800 Mb/d from April 2022. The gains — and related increases in associated gas — have spurred a new round of concerns about pipeline exit capacity, complicating drillers’ hopes to boost crude production. In today’s RBN blog, we will discuss the takeaway capacity issue and what it means for producers and pipeline operators, including those planning offshore crude export terminals. 

In the race to build the next deepwater crude oil export terminal along the U.S. Gulf Coast, there’s a lot of competition but one project now has a clear advantage: Enterprise Product Partners’ planned Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), which has made the most progress in moving through the regulatory morass and announced that it had received its deepwater port license on April 9. In today’s RBN blog, we provide an update on SPOT’s progress and look at some of its inherent advantages, including a potentially shorter time to market and extensive pipeline connectivity. 

The deepwater crude oil export projects under development along the U.S. Gulf Coast offer a number of potential benefits to shippers and customers alike. These include the ability to fully load a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) and the economies of scale that come with that, the elimination of reverse lightering and the corresponding decrease in emissions, and freed-up access on congested ship channels for other exports such as NGLs, refined products and clean ammonia. So, given all the potential upside, why hasn’t anyone fully committed to building one? In today’s RBN blog, we focus on the obstacles faced by deepwater export facilities and where each of the projects under development is in the permitting process. 

The Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah, which may be the quirkiest production area in the Lower 48, is firing on all cylinders. Production of the basin’s unique waxy crude is at an all-time high, the natural gas takeaway constraints that had threatened to limit growth are being resolved, and demand for waxy crude is on the rise. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll provide an update on the Uinta, where the crude looks and feels like shoe polish and is trucked and railed — not piped — to market. 

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently raised a few eyebrows across the energy industry with a report that producers in three key shale states — including Texas, the nation’s #1 oil producer — seem to be extracting larger amounts of “heavier” crude oil. Of course, the oil is only heavier relative to the light and superlight grades that have been produced in copious amounts since the dawn of the Shale Revolution. But these denser, lower-API volumes have recently helped drive growth in total crude output. In today’s RBN blog, we unpack what the EIA discussed in its writeup, explore some of the possible drivers behind the apparently heavier oil production, and discuss what it might mean for the domestic market. 

The Enbridge Mainline, by far the largest transportation network for growing Western Canadian crude oil supplies to the U.S. Midwest, Gulf Coast and Eastern Canada, recently received regulatory approval for the tolls that it charges shippers for using the massive pipeline system. As we discuss in today’s RBN blog, the Canada Energy Regulator’s (CER) thumbs-up ensures another five years of shipping cost predictability and comes as the Canadian oil pipeline landscape is about to permanently change with the pending startup of the 590-Mb/d Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). 

With many years gone by and many millions of dollars spent, the deepwater crude oil export projects under development along the U.S. Gulf Coast are finally getting close to receiving their regulatory green light. These projects have sparked commercial and wider market interest because of the many benefits they may provide — including the ability to fully load the biggest tankers, the Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) capable of taking on 2 MMbbl, which could contribute to lower per-barrel shipping costs. In today’s RBN blog, we kick off an offshore oil terminal series, starting with the case for constructing at least one of the export projects. 

As U.S. crude oil expands its foothold across the world, the markets that trade it have undergone some fundamental changes. Since the onset of the pandemic almost four years ago, these changes have included the shortening of the loading-date range for crude oil cargoes marketed along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Price reporting agencies (PRAs) like Argus have responded, launching crude oil assessments that reflect a narrower loading window. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the changes and the new assessments Argus has rolled out to help crude oil traders manage their market exposure. 

Two maritime passages long regarded as essential shortcuts in the complex world of commodity shipping have become a lot more challenging to navigate. Transiting the Red Sea has turned potentially deadly because of geopolitical tensions, while severe drought has critically reduced operations at the Panama Canal. Combined, these issues are being felt across the energy industry, impacting U.S. and foreign producers and shippers, redrawing trade flows, extending voyage times and, ultimately, raising transportation costs. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll examine and quantify the extra time and costs that shippers of U.S. crude and refined products must bear when using alternative routes. 

The Raceland crude oil hub is far from Louisiana’s largest but might be positioned to earn a little more of the spotlight after Sentinel Midstream and ExxonMobil Pipeline formed a joint venture in December to enhance business for a few crude oil pipelines connecting Louisiana hubs, including Raceland. In today’s RBN blog, we examine the infrastructure and connectivity that makes up the Raceland hub southwest of New Orleans, see how it stacks up against some of its larger cousins in the state — namely, Clovelly and St. James — and discuss why activity at the hub could be poised to pick up steam. 

Thanks to expanding heavy crude oil production in Western Canada’s oil sands in recent years and increased pipeline access from the region to the U.S. Gulf Coast, re-exports of Canadian heavy crude from Gulf Coast terminals set a record in 2023. With additional production gains on tap in the oil sands, it might seem natural to think that another re-export record is in the works for 2024. However, assuming the much-delayed Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) does indeed start up this year — offering a vastly expanded West Coast outlet for oil sands production — last year’s re-export high might end up being a peak, at least for the number of years it takes for growth in Western Canadian heavy crude production to exceed the capacity of the TMX expansion. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at TMX’s likely impact on Gulf Coast re-exports. 

A handful of U.S. midstreamers are striving to build an offshore export buoy in the Gulf of Mexico that would be able to fully load a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC). If successful, they could facilitate a new wave of crude oil export flows and dynamics. With domestic production back to record highs and global supply and demand dynamics in a constant state of flux, the market developments along the Gulf Coast are something the oil industry is eying intently. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the latest on two export projects — Phillips 66 and Trafigura's Bluewater Texas Terminal and Sentinel Midstream’s Texas GulfLink.

When the Group of Seven (G-7) countries placed a $60/bbl cap on the price of Russian crude oil in December 2022 — one of many responses to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine — there were two primary goals. The first was to keep Russian barrels flowing to the market to help keep global prices in check, and the second was to slash the profitability of Russian oil exports and thereby reduce its ability to wage war against Ukraine. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how effective the sanctions have been and how Russia has tried to work around the price cap. 

As we step into the new year with record-high U.S. crude oil production and export volumes as strong as ever, there’s a race underway among four offshore export projects that aim to tap into those rising supplies and — with their ability to fully load Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) without any reverse lightering — push export volumes to new heights. While Enterprise Products Partners’ Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) might be leading the development race so far, Energy Transfer’s (ET) Blue Marlin Offshore Port has momentum also. In today’s RBN blog, we update Blue Marlin’s progress, look at the critical role anchor shippers play in project development, and show how growing offshore exports could impact existing onshore terminals.