RBN Energy

For the U.S. oil patch, exports are the lifeblood of today’s market. U.S. refineries are operating at more than 90% of their rated capacity and using as much domestically produced light-sweet shale oil as their sophisticated equipment will allow. That means that virtually all of the incremental U.S. unconventional light-sweet crude oil production will need to be piped to export terminals along the Gulf Coast, loaded onto tankers, and shipped to refineries overseas. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss what this undeniable link between crude oil exports and production growth means for U.S. E&Ps and midstream companies — and the future of the oil and gas industry.

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 Jeremy Meier - Friday, 5/26/2023 (3:00 pm)

May was a tough month for US oil and gas rig count, with producers ending the month with a fourth consecutive weekly decline (-44 vs April 28).  Total US rig count was 711 for the week ending May 26, according to Baker Hughes. Rigs were added in the Permian (+1) and Eagle Ford (+1) this week, while the Anadarko (-5), Haynesville (-3), Gulf of Mexico (-1) and All Other Basins (-1) all posted declines.  Total US rig count is down 42 in the last 90 days, and down 16 vs. this same week a year ago.

By Sheetal Nasta - Friday, 5/26/2023 (2:15 pm)
Report Highlight: NATGAS Billboard

Weaker supply-demand balances compared with last year have continued to weigh on the natural gas market in May. While domestic consumption and exports were up a combined 3.3 Bcf/d year-on-year, supply gains were even larger, up a net 4.7 Bcf/d year-on-year, according to daily supply-demand data from the RBN NATGAS Billboard report. That left the market ~1.4 Bcf/d longer supply this month to date vs. the same period last year.

Recently Published Reports

Report Title Published
NATGAS Billboard NATGAS Billboard - May 26, 2023 2 days 19 hours ago
Chart Toppers Chart Toppers - May 26, 2023 2 days 22 hours ago
NATGAS Appalachia NATGAS Appalachia – May 25, 2023 3 days 17 hours ago
NATGAS Billboard NATGAS Billboard - May 25, 2023 3 days 19 hours ago
Chart Toppers Chart Toppers - May 25, 2023 3 days 22 hours ago


Daily Energy Blog

Clean ammonia, produced by reacting either “blue” or “green” hydrogen with nitrogen, is emerging as one of the most highly touted low-carbon energy sources of the future, thanks largely to massive tax incentives provided by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Skeptics may question the extent to which clean ammonia — and clean hydrogen, on which it’s based — can realistically take market share from natural gas and coal as leading power-plant fuels over the next 20 to 30 years, but there’s a lot to be said for them and, as wind- and solar-power developers have already come to appreciate, billions of dollars in governmental support can do wonders. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our look at the growing list of U.S. clean ammonia projects now under development.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which became law several months ago, may have an enormous impact on the U.S. energy landscape over the long run, but many of its key provisions, including the much-discussed tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), have been missing one big thing: rules of the road. Federal agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Treasury Department are responsible for implementing and enforcing laws passed by Congress, which are not only lengthy and complex, but often leave out important details. That’s where federal rulemaking comes into play, filling in the details and addressing questions left unanswered in the original legislation. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how the rules surrounding the New Clean Vehicle Credit (NCVC) are taking shape, the detailed steps that automakers will have to take to meet new sourcing and content requirements, and what it all means for prospective EV buyers.

There’s been a lot written about the federal government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in financial support to create a limited number of regional hydrogen hubs but not a lot of insight about how those hub proposals are being crafted to meet the Department of Energy’s (DOE) selection criteria. The details and strategies behind those plans have been hard to come by because few of the initial concept papers were made public while others remain a mystery, even months after the first informal winnowing of candidates. One exception is the Leading in Gulf Coast Hydrogen Transition (LIGH2T) hub proposal being prepared by a consortium that includes a large group of states, some key commercial partners, several universities and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). In today’s RBN blog, we look at what we know about the LIGH2T proposal, which will submit a full application by the April 7 deadline, and how it addresses three key factors likely to play a role in the selection process.

The buzz and activity around renewable diesel (RD), a chemically identical “drop-in” replacement for traditional petroleum-based diesel, continues to grow. The goals with RD, which is produced from renewable feedstocks, are to reduce the need for petroleum and to lower life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — critical steps in meeting climate agendas in many countries. Canada recently enacted legislation designed to promote the domestic production of RD as part of a broader emissions-reduction strategy. In today’s RBN blog, we take a tour of the newly emerging RD production sector in Canada and examine whether it could one day replace imports from the U.S.

As the push for decarbonization in the transportation sector gathers momentum, electrofuels — also known as eFuels, which are produced by using electricity to combine the hydrogen molecules from water with the carbon from carbon dioxide (CO2) — are beginning to attract attention as an alternative fuel with three important selling points in today’s environment. First, eFuels are available now and can be made with current technology, although there is a lot of room for future improvements and growth. Second, because they are considered drop-in replacements, they are essentially indistinguishable from the fossil-based conventional fuels in use today, which means they can be used without any changes to the existing energy infrastructure. Third, they can capitalize on a rapidly growing set of hydrogen and CO2 suppliers eager to secure a diversified set of offtakers. In today’s RBN blog, we look at HIF Global’s approach to eFuels production, its demonstration plant in Chile and its big plans for Texas and beyond.

U.S. production of renewable diesel (RD) is rising fast and production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will soon follow suit, driven largely by federal and state incentives. But U.S. demand for both RD and SAF is growing at a more measured pace, mostly because they are throttled by a number of other governmental policies, including the level of blending mandates set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As we see it, the net effect of this disconnect between domestic supply and demand will be the U.S. becoming a net exporter of RD this year and a net exporter of SAF in 2025 — but only after a spike in SAF imports in 2023-24. Yes, it’s complicated, but with public-sector policies impacting both sides of the supply/demand scale, did you really expect it wouldn’t be? In today’s RBN blog, we look at two more energy products the U.S. will be exporting.

The lack of successful projects has long been a thorn in the side of the carbon-capture industry, with a few high-profile cases falling short of expectations for a variety of economic and technological reasons. When looking for a prime example of how a highly touted (and taxpayer-supported) project can still fall short, the Petra Nova facility southwest of Houston, which completed its three-year demonstration period shortly before being shut in 2020, often comes to mind. But now it’s just a few months away from getting another shot, courtesy of its new owner and recovering oil prices. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the impending restart of the Petra Nova project, how falling oil prices overshadowed its technical successes, and its importance to the carbon-capture industry.

It’s not the most accurately named piece of legislation, but that doesn’t mean the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) might not have an outsized impact on everything from electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen production to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon-capture projects. There’s plenty of potential for things to happen in the long run, but before then, a lot needs to get done — including the rules and regulations that will guide the IRA’s implementation. In today’s RBN blog, we look at why the IRA remains a work in progress, the critical role that rulemaking will play, and potential impediments to the law’s long-term success.

When carbon dioxide (CO2) is captured and stored deep underground, a process known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), it’s supposed to remain there permanently. Although much of today’s emphasis is on moving carbon-capture projects from aspirational to operational, there are long-term challenges to making sure those emissions stay put away for good, even if the odds of a significant leakage are considered remote. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the common risk factors for carbon-capture projects, explain why a site’s post-injection care-and-monitoring period can last for several decades, and detail the leakage risks that project planners must be prepared to handle.

The U.S. is gearing up to provide billions of dollars in financial support for a series of regional clean hydrogen hubs and had what amounts to an informal cutdown at the end of December, announcing that 33 project proponents had been formally encouraged to submit a full application this spring. Although the Department of Energy (DOE) didn’t name any of the projects on the “encouraged” list, we’ve been able to identify many of the proposals — and add five more in today’s blog — even though a lot of project details remain under wraps. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at the new projects on our list and examine the major factors that are likely to influence a project’s viability.

Pretty much everywhere you look, there’s a focus on decarbonizing the global economy, and a lot of those discussions start with the transportation sector. It generated 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020, putting it at the top of the list, just ahead of power generation and industrial production; combined, the three sectors account for more than three-quarters of the nation’s GHG emissions. For personal transportation, most of the attention has been on electric vehicles (EVs), but since the commercial transportation sector is largely powered by diesel and jet fuel, the push for decarbonization in trucking, air travel, and shipping has largely focused on ways to produce alternative fuels that reduce GHGs. Among those are ultra-low-carbon fuels called electrofuels, also referred to as eFuels, synthetic fuels, or Power-to-Liquids (PtL). In today’s RBN blog, we explain what eFuels are and how they compare to other alternatives, how they are produced, and what opportunity there might be to make a dent in the consumption of traditional transportation fuels.

If the world is going to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net-zero levels by 2050, a lot of things need to go right, with the success of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) long-term plan balancing on three different pillars. First, there are emissions reductions from improvements to fossil fuels and processes, such as power generation and industrial production. Next, there are advancements in bioenergy, a category that includes biofuels like ethanol, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and renewable diesel (RD). And then there’s direct air capture (DAC) — a minor factor so far, but one with the potential for significant growth, especially given the billions in U.S. funding already set aside for it. In today’s RBN blog, we look at U.S. plans to develop four regional DAC hubs, how those proposals will be evaluated, and the likely timeline for their development.

The U.S. has committed billions of dollars over the last couple of years to clean-energy initiatives, everything from advanced fuels and carbon-capture technology to renewable energy and electric vehicles. The “all-of-the-above” approach also includes clean hydrogen, whose development the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has deemed crucial to meeting the Biden administration’s goals of a 100% clean electric grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. As part of its efforts, the U.S. plans to provide generous financial support for the buildout of several hydrogen hubs — initial concept papers were submitted last year by dozens of applicants for the federal largesse, and the DOE recently provided formal “encouragement” to 33 proponents to submit a full application this spring, in what amounts to an informal cutdown, but declined to name them. In today’s RBN blog, we examine the 18 projects we’ve been able to identify that survived the trimming, what they tell us about the selection process, and how it compares to our previous expectations.

If clean hydrogen is not a significant contributor to the U.S. energy mix by the 2030s, it won’t be because Congress and the Biden administration didn’t try. First, last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided the Department of Energy (DOE) with up to $8 billion to support the development of several regional hydrogen hubs, plus another $1 billion to back efforts to halve the cost of producing hydrogen via renewables-powered electrolysis. Then, this year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided tax credits for investing in new production facilities and producing clean hydrogen — incentives generous enough to spur announcements for at least an initial round of multibillion-dollar projects. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our new Drill Down Report on the variety of hydrogen-hub proposals the feds will be reviewing.

Many may have nits to pick with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — some may not like one or both at all — but it would be hard to argue with the view that they provide generous financial support for the production of clean hydrogen and the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2). And now, with a clearer understanding of the tax credits that will be available going forward, companies active in the clean hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) spaces are scrambling to advance large-scale projects that would benefit from the federal government’s largesse. That includes blue methanol plants, which produce a super-low-carbon version of the petrochemical intermediate and shipping fuel by capturing and sequestering most of the CO2 that is generated during production. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the blue methanol projects taking shape along the Gulf Coast.