The international market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is an inherently risky business where returns depend on paying back huge upfront infrastructure investments with cash flows based on volatile energy prices. Tectonic shifts in the market are giving North American LNG exporters and natural gas producers an opportunity to become pivotal players. The world is on the cusp of an LNG supply glut that may last several years, and the old order of long-term supply contracts with prices indexed to oil is being phased out in favor of a market structure that features more destination flexibility, more spot market sales—and, for U.S. and maybe some Canadian and Mexican LNG exporters—more liquefaction “tolling” deals with LNG prices linked to gas. Today, we continue our look at what these changes mean for the North American energy sector.
The U.S. Northeast natural gas market thus far has been able to offset local production growth primarily by pushing out supply from other regions. But recent trends in pipeline flows suggest that for the first time, net flows into the Northeast will fall to zero this summer, marking the end of displacement. Meanwhile, regional natural gas production could be as much as 4 Bcf/d higher this summer than last. The result could put this summer’s prices in a precarious position further challenging producers suffering in an oversupplied market. . Today’s blog looks at recent trends in Northeast flows and implications for prices this summer.
Yesterday the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their 2015 Annual Energy Outlook that forecasts U.S. demand for natural gas to increase by as much as 42% from 2014’s 26 TCF/year to 37 TCF/year by 2040. That translates to 101 BCF/d and is predicated on long term supplies of relatively cheap gas! Can the U.S. produce that much gas over the long term? Last week a group that is little known outside the natural gas industry – the Potential Gas Committee (PGC) provided an answer to that question when they announced their latest estimate of economically recoverable natural gas resources in the U.S. Today we analyze the impact of the latest PGC estimate and its long-term implications for the natural gas industry.
MarkWest Energy Partners is clearly the big dog in the Marcellus/Utica, with by far the largest gas processing and fractionation capacity there.
This year’s natural gas power burn is shaping up as a record-breaker, mostly because gas consumption needs to rise sharply to offset increased production and the power sector is best able to ramp up its gas use. But what will it take, gas-price-wise, for utilities and independent power producers to increase their 2015 power burn by 2, 3 or even 4 Bcf/d this year? And which parts of the U.S. are likely to see the most dramatic coal-to-gas switching? Today we continue our look at this year’s power burn and its significance to Marcellus and other gas producers.
Producers in the Bakken are making progress reducing the natural gas flaring that had put an unwelcome spotlight on the region. The fix, spurred in part by tightening regulations, is being made possible by the addition of new gas processing capacity and increased efforts to use “stranded” gas at the well-site. (A drilling slowdown associated with soft crude prices is providing an assist.) Today, we take a fresh look at what’s been happening on the flaring front in western North Dakota, where gas flares still light the nighttime sky.
The U.S. Midwest region is slated to get an infusion of cheaper Northeast natural gas supply later this year as the first of five new westbound pipeline expansions is expected to begin service in November. Already a couple of projects are moving gas to the Midwest from the Northeast. The Northeast-to-Midwest capacity will have a huge impact on the Midwest supply stack and consequently on prices. The Chicago Citygates forward curve shows prices flipping from premiums to discounts later this year. Today’s blog continues our look at how new pipeline capacity will re-shuffle the Midwest’s supply stack and change regional pricing.
Cold weather, abundant supplies of natural gas and lower-than-normal winter gas prices spurred record power burns in January and February, and the power burn for the rest of 2015 is likely to be record-breaking too. It almost has to be; all the gas expected to be produced this year needs to go somewhere, and there’s only so much that can be stored. That suggests continued softness in natural gas prices—hardly good news for gas producers.
For years now, the international LNG trade has been based primarily on long-term contracts between buyers and sellers, and those deals have been indexed to oil prices. That long-standing regime is now tottering, however, and a New World Order that would add considerable flexibility to LNG trading—and increase the role of the LNG spot market—may be in the offing. That would have huge implications for U.S. natural gas producers who want to export increasing amounts of liquefied gas.
Natural gas production is growing faster in the Marcellus and Utica than any other part of North America. Even with lower prices, Appalachia natural gas production will probably hit record highs in the next few days, and NGL production is into the stratosphere, now more than four times where it was two years ago, growing on average 6% PER MONTH!
An average of 13 Bcf/d of natural gas flows into the Midwest from producing regions in Canada, the Midcontinent, the Southeast and the Rockies. Over the past 7 years the region has been in the crosshairs of major infrastructure and supply changes to the North American natural gas market, starting in 2008 with the Rockies Express (REX) pipeline and continuing today as surplus Northeast supplies reverse pipeline flows and push into the Midcontinent.
As if there weren’t enough reasons to add new natural gas pipeline capacity through New England, it’s time to consider another: the Sable Island and Deep Panuke gas production areas off the coast of Nova Scotia are quickly losing their oomph, and soon the Canadian Maritimes will need to rely more heavily on gas from other, more distant sources, including the Marcellus. Developing pipelines to move large volumes of Marcellus gas through New England to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will not be easy though. Today we continue our look at the challenges of supplying gas to New England and its northern neighbors.
Does it make sense to build natural gas pipeline capacity that will only be used a few weeks a year? That’s a question that continues to spark debate in New England, where the existing pipeline network is sufficient most of the year but unable to supply the region’s growing number of gas-fired power plants during the coldest winter days. What’s the answer? Building gas pipeline capacity that will remain largely unused? Relying on oil and LNG as a permanent gas-supply backup for power generators? Or maybe building pipeline capacity to provide not only peak, wintertime service to generators but off-peak service to LNG exporters? Today, we continue our look at a vexing dilemma with major implications for Marcellus gas producers.
Northeast natural gas prices have been flipped upside down over the last couple of years and have shown unprecedented weakness relative to Henry Hub due to capacity constraints preventing booming production reaching new demand markets. New infrastructure projects should relieve this congestion in the next two years but as we explain today, the current market view – expressed in the forward curve - does not appear to reflect that reality.
Will hold-by-production (HBP) drilling by producers acting to preserve their leases for the longer term end up sending U.S. oil and gas production volumes higher when energy fundamentals and prices suggest production should slow down? This has happened before, with one of the highest profile instances in the Haynesville Shale between 2009-13, leading to even lower natural gas prices. Could it happen again in the Marcellus this year? Today we continue our look at HBP lease provisions with a focus on the Marcellus.