Natural Gas

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.

Monday, 06/22/2015

Asia for years has been seen as the primary market for U.S.- sourced liquefied natural gas (LNG), and that’s still true today as the first round of U.S. export facilities inch toward completion and operation. But an ongoing upheaval in the international LNG market—and the “destination flexibility” built into most U.S. LNG sales and purchase agreements--suggest that Europe may receive significant volumes of U.S. LNG as well. It’s also possible that U.S. exporters may become “swing suppliers” like LNG trading giant Qatargas, ready to direct LNG-laden vessels across either the Atlantic or the Pacific, depending on where the price is higher. Today, we continue our look at the fast-changing LNG market and what it means to U.S. natural gas producers and LNG exporters.

Sunday, 06/21/2015

The biggest fundamental price indicator in the natural gas market -- Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report – is about to get a major makeover. The EIA is planning to split the US gas inventory data into five regions, from three macro regions currently. The idea has been floating out there for a while, but now it looks imminent, with a good chance it is rolled out before the gas winter season comes around in November. When it does happen, the increased granularity will vastly improve the transparency of natural gas storage inventory data on a weekly basis. But there’s another reason it will be a big deal when it happens:  It will break everybody’s storage scrapes and models. Storage modelers and forecasters will have their work cut out for them. In today’s blog, we break down the upcoming changes.

Wednesday, 06/17/2015

The six liquefaction “trains” under development at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal will demand nearly 4 Bcf/d of natural gas on average, the first 650 MMcf/d of that starting within a few months. And the five trains now planned at Cheniere’s Corpus Christi site—yes, now five, not three—will require another 3.2 Bcf/d. Taken together, that’s about 10% of current daily gas production in the U.S.; in other words, a monumental logistical task. Today, we start a series looking at the challenges of securing and moving huge volumes of gas to LNG export terminals, the emerging epicenters of U.S. gas demand.

Tuesday, 06/09/2015

As natural gas takes on an ever-expanding role in Asian energy markets, the traditional practice of sourcing liquefied natural gas (LNG) through long-term, “point-to-point” supply deals at oil-indexed prices is being challenged on several fronts. For one, U.S. exporters are linking the price of their LNG to Henry Hub gas prices. For another, Asian LNG customers, eager to reduce costs in a suddenly glutted LNG market, are working to renegotiate their oil-linked deals, and turning to the LNG spot market, where prices have been attractively low. Fast-changing market dynamics include planned gas pipelines from Siberia to China that may well make the Asian LNG market more like Europe, where LNG competes head-to-head with piped-in gas and with coal. Today, we continue our look at the changing international market and what it means for U.S. and Canadian gas producers and LNG exports.

Wednesday, 06/03/2015

RBN analysis of 31 exploration and production (E&P) companies shows sharp differences between two groups of gas-weighted firms. The US diversified group is struggling to increase production, and slashing capital spending in light of weak profitability. Meanwhile, the Appalachian group is flying high as the most profitable classification in our analysis – largely as a result of slashing costs in response to weak natural gas prices. Today we wrap up our three-part analysis of U.S. E&P company’s 2015 outlook.

Wednesday, 05/27/2015

Asian consumers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) hope to use the current supply glut—and the start-up of U.S. LNG export facilities--to their long-term advantage. Their very understandable goal is to up-end the old market structure, which for years has had them paying far more for LNG than their Western European counterparts. How will the coming revolution affect U.S. natural gas producers and the next round of U.S. LNG export projects? Today, we continue our review of the fast-changing global market for LNG with a look at a new set of Asian LNG buyers and at the region’s fast-changing supply/demand dynamics.