Natural Gas

Sunday, 08/23/2015

As natural gas production growth in the U.S. has shifted from the Gulf Coast region to the Northeast’s   Marcellus and Utica shale, some have suggested that time may have passed by Louisiana’s Henry Hub as the national benchmark for all U.S. gas prices, and have questioned whether it can maintain its position as the third largest physical commodity futures contract in the world.   Should Henry be replaced by some pricing point in Appalachia?  Is Henry really in trouble?  In today’s blog, we continue our series looking at what makes Henry Hub tick with a closer look at the implications of changing physical and futures volumes at the hub.

Sunday, 08/16/2015

Few factors will have a greater effect on future U.S. natural gas production—or gas pricing—than the degree to which U.S. LNG exporters are successful in penetrating Asian, European and other markets. The dozen liquefaction/LNG export facilities now under construction along the Gulf and East coasts could demand up to 7 Bcf/d, or about one-tenth of current U.S. production. It’s possible, though, that demand could be far less if U.S. LNG can’t compete successfully, or several Bcf/d higher if exporter success leads to development of additional projects. Today, we review our latest Drill Down Report on the international LNG market and how U.S. exporters may fare.

Tuesday, 08/11/2015

The Henry Hub, LA physical interconnect at the center of North American natural gas pricing is about to go through big changes with the in-service of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals as soon as the end of 2015 and growing industrial demand in the Gulf Coast region. These changes are also likely to impact the CME/NYMEX futures contract that is based on delivery at Henry.  To understand how the demand growth nearby will impact Henry Hub cash and futures markets, we must first understand what really goes on physically at Henry. In today’s blog, we dive into the workings of the physical Henry spot market.

Tuesday, 08/04/2015

The site of Cheniere Energy’s new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Corpus Christi is only a short drive from the heart of the Eagle Ford. But for supply diversity’s sake, Cheniere won’t depend only on Eagle Ford gas for supply—far from it, in fact. Plans are in the works to enable Corpus Christi LNG’s five planned liquefaction “trains” to access gas from a wide variety of shale plays and basins, in some cases moving gas long-distance. Today, we continue our look at the challenges of securing and moving huge volumes of gas to LNG export terminals, the emerging epicenters of U.S. gas demand.

Sunday, 08/02/2015

Tallgrass Energy’s Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) opened the floodgates for Marcellus/Utica producers this Saturday, August 1, bringing online its Zone 3 East-to-West (E2W) expansion capacity. The expansion tripled westbound design capacity to a full 1.8 Bcf/d from the Marcellus/Utica producing region to delivery points in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Potentially this additional takeaway capacity eases supply congestion in the Northeast and will support beleaguered Marcellus/Utica pricing points. As REX touches nearly every part of the US gas market, the expansion can ultimately be expected to reconfigure gas flows and price relationships across multiple regions as it comes online. Today we review the changes and how quickly they are likely to impact the market.

Wednesday, 07/29/2015

The CME/NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas futures contract turns 25 years old this year. The contract is now the third largest physical commodity futures market in the world. The price of virtually every Btu of gas sold in North America is linked in some way to the underlying physical hub at Henry. But over the past five years shale gas has revolutionized North American supply and changed the shape of delivery patterns. These trends have altered the flow of physical gas through Henry Hub and could jeapordize the success of the futures contract. Today we look at  why Henry Hub has been so successful.

Monday, 07/27/2015

How the international market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) expands and evolves is of critical importance to U.S. and Canadian natural gas producers and midstream companies alike. The success of North American-sourced gas in penetrating LNG demand centers--Asia and Europe in particular—will help determine not only how much gas needs to be produced, but how much incremental pipeline and liquefaction/LNG export capacity needs to be developed, and how much upward pressure there will be on U.S. and Canadian natural gas prices. There is a lot of uncertainty about how things will shake out. Today, we conclude our series with an assessment of what we know, what we aren’t sure about, and what we think we’re likely to see happen.

Wednesday, 07/22/2015

The Henry Hub in Louisiana is the best known natural gas trading location in the world. There is certainly no more liquid point in the industry. An average of 350,000 Henry Hub natural gas futures contracts trade on the CME/NYMEX each day. The Henry price is used to compute locational ‘basis’ at all other natural gas trading points in North America and thus is the reference price for tens-of-thousands of derivative instruments and other commercial contracts. But the U.S. natural gas industry is changing rapidly. Henry started out as a supply market hub but a natural gas demand renaissance in and around Louisiana is transforming it into a demand market hub. How will this impact Henry and can/will it endure as the national benchmark price? Today, we begin an in-depth series looking at Henry Hub, starting with its origins.

Monday, 07/20/2015

The start-up of Sabine Pass, the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in the Lower 48, is only months away, and the complicated gas-delivery logistics behind the project are coming into focus. Surely one of the biggest challenges has been assembling the long-haul pipeline capacity needed to move several billion cubic feet of gas a day (Bcf/d) to Sabine Pass from deliberately diverse sources as far away as the Marcellus/Utica. After all, the nation’s pipeline network was initially designed to move gas from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast and Midwest, not vice versa. Today, we continue our look at the challenges of securing and moving huge volumes of gas to LNG export terminals, the emerging epicenters of U.S. gas demand.

Thursday, 07/16/2015

Analyst estimates for this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report before its release were rallying around an expectation of a 95-Bcf injection, according to the Wall Street Journal’s survey of storage analysts. The actual number reported by EIA yesterday (July 16, 2015) was a 99-Bcf injection, more or less in line with analyst expectations. But predictions may get a bit harder later this year. The EIA is preparing to redraw its US natural gas storage map and begin reporting inventory data in new regions later this year (2015). In August, prior to the launch of the revamped report, it will release a file with historical data for each of the new regions. The historical data will for the first time allow modelers to run their regressions and gather statistical information by which to rebuild their storage models designed to foretell the weekly EIA storage number. In the meantime, we did our own unscientific analysis of the regional breakdown and how it will change transparency in gas storage activity. Today, we examine storage capacities in the old versus new regions and potential impact on analyst visibility.

Monday, 07/13/2015

European natural gas consumers would welcome the addition of low-cost liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. to their gas-supply mix. For one thing, they want to reduce their reliance on Russia and other potentially sketchy sources of pipeline gas. For another, they want to weaken the link between oil and gas pricing—something U.S.-sourced LNG would help them do. What would it take for the U.S. to become one of Europe’s primary gas suppliers, and what would that mean for U.S. gas producers and LNG exporters? Today we continue our examination of the international LNG market with a look at what’s driving European curiosity about U.S. LNG.

Wednesday, 07/08/2015

CME/NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas futures prices for August delivery continue to trail $1.50/MMBtu behind year-ago levels and natural gas production volumes show little sign of softening. Gas demand is rallying to record-setting levels and the balance is tightening. But there is still a long way to go before the storage inventory surplus is reined in. Today we revisit supply/demand balance and its impact on storage this summer.

Tuesday, 06/30/2015

Natural gas exports to Mexico are on a tear, and there’s every reason to believe the market will continue to grow. In essence, parts of the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin are becoming the go-to fuel source for new power plants and industrial facilities south of the border, as evidenced by a Howard Energy Partners plan to build new, connecting pipelines to deliver large volumes of gas directly from South Texas to emerging demand centers in and around Monterrey, Mexico. Howard’s also been addressing some of Texas’s gas gathering and processing needs. Today, we consider the latest plan to add gas pipeline capacity across the Rio Grande.

Sunday, 06/28/2015

One of the most significant events to occur in the U.S. natural gas market this year will be the full-scale reversal of flows in Zone 3 of the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX), and it is right around the corner. The Zone 3 East-to-West Project (E2W) will bring on an incremental 1.2 Bcf/d of westbound capacity, opening the floodgates for Marcellus and Utica producers. As REX touches nearly every part of the US gas market, the expansion will reconfigure continental gas flows and price relationships across multiple regions as it comes online.

Based on conversations last week with our good friends at Tallgrass Energy, the operator of REX, today we bring you the up-to-the-minute scoop on the E2W expansion and other forthcoming changes on the pipeline.

Wednesday, 06/24/2015

The past 10 years have been challenging, to say the least, for Western Canadian natural gas producers, and the situation may not get better any time soon. Squeezed out of many of their traditional markets in eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and stymied by delays in the development of West Coast liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, producers in Alberta and British Columbia have been suffering from lower prices and searching for new outlets for their gas. Alberta’s oil sands and power generation sectors will help, but the big fish producers need to land is LNG exports. Today, we consider recent developments in a region long on natural gas reserves but short on gas buyers.