Natural Gas

Monday, 02/18/2019

The vast majority of the incremental natural gas pipeline capacity out of the Marcellus/Utica production area in recent years is designed to transport gas to either the Midwest, the Gulf Coast or the Southeast. Advancing these projects to construction and operation hasn’t always been easy, but generally speaking, most of the new pipelines and pipeline reversals have come online close to when their developers had planned. In contrast, efforts to build new gas pipelines into nearby New York State — a big market and the gateway to gas-starved New England — have hit one brick wall after another. At least until lately. In the past few weeks, one federal court ruling breathed new life into National Fuel Gas’s long-planned Northern Access Pipeline and another gave proponents of the proposed Constitution Pipeline hope that their project may finally be able to proceed. Today, we consider recent legal developments that may at long last enable new, New York-bound outlets for Marcellus/Utica gas to be built.

Thursday, 02/14/2019

The U.S. natural gas market last week was again reminded of the hair-trigger conditions that Permian producers and marketers are operating under — with gas production pushing against available takeaway capacity, all it takes is an otherwise minor/routine maintenance event on even one West Texas takeaway pipeline to send regional gas prices spiraling into negative territory. Waha Hub gas prices last week collapsed to their lowest level ever, with intraday trades even going negative — meaning some had to pay the market to take their gas. This wasn’t the first time that’s happened in the Permian — a similar event occurred in late November 2018 — but it was the worst to date and signals a heightened supply glut in the region, at least until the first new takeaway pipeline comes online in the fourth quarter of this year. Today, we explain the recent price weakness in West Texas and implications for Permian basis in 2019.

Monday, 02/11/2019

The dam has broken on the “second wave” of U.S. LNG export projects. ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum last week announced a final investment decision on their joint venture liquefaction and export project — called Golden Pass Products — at the brownfield site of the Golden Pass LNG terminal on the Texas side of the Sabine-Neches Waterway. That’s a skipping stone’s throw from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG and Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG terminals on the Louisiana side of the Gulf of Mexico outlet, as well as a number of other second-wave contenders. With construction slated to begin late next month, the Golden Pass project expects to become operational and begin taking feedgas by 2024. Today, we provide an update on Golden Pass, its potential feedgas needs and how it will be supplied.

Sunday, 02/03/2019

Lower-48 natural gas demand surged in 2018, managing to offset ballooning production volumes and putting the gas market on the razor’s edge going into this winter. Demand growth occurred across all domestic sectors as well as export markets, but was led by increased demand from power generators. Some of that was weather-related. However, there also was a level-shift up in demand on a per-degree basis, meaning more gas was burned than historically at the same temperatures, signaling a gain in gas market share. What were the drivers, and can we expect this growth pace to continue? Today, we take a closer look at the demand components behind the recent growth trends.

Wednesday, 01/30/2019

While Permian natural gas pipeline announcements came fast and furious last year, it had been relatively quiet on that front the past few weeks. Leave it to the folks at WhiteWater Midstream to break the lull, which is exactly what they did with the recent announcement of a binding open season for a new interstate pipeline in the heart of the Delaware Basin. Named Steady Eddy, the pipeline would originate in an underserved corner of the Permian and provide access to the Waha Hub, where a number of planned greenfield pipelines leaving the Permian will begin. Today, we look at the details of WhiteWater’s proposed Steady Eddy pipeline project.

Sunday, 01/27/2019

Mexico’s energy sector has been dealing with a fair amount of uncertainty of late. Newly installed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to undo elements of the country’s historic energy reform program, limit imports of hydrocarbons, and focus on domestic production and refining. How much will all this affect the export of natural gas from the U.S. to Mexico? It’s too soon to know what the long-term impact might be, but for now, gas exports remain near record highs and the pipeline buildout within Mexico is proceeding. That’s not to say, however, that the infrastructure work has gone without its own set of challenges — many of those were apparent well before the recent political changes. Today, we begin a series examining the opportunities and potential pitfalls ahead this year for Mexico’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure additions.

Tuesday, 01/22/2019

One of the biggest factors affecting the U.S. natural gas market in 2019 will undoubtedly be the dramatic rise in LNG export demand. The slate of liquefaction and LNG export capacity additions this year will boost U.S. demand for feedgas supply to nearly 9 Bcf/d by the end of the year, almost tripling the 2018 full-year average of 3.1 Bcf/d and close to doubling the December 2018 average of 4.6 Bcf/d, with the lion’s share of that growth happening along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. Three liquefaction trains — one each at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi terminals, as well as one at Cameron LNG — are likely to be fully operational in the first quarter, with five additional trains due in rapid progression later in 2019. That much new gas demand concentrated in one region is bound to disrupt physical flows and pricing dynamics. Today, we wrap up the series with a look at the timing and feedgas routes for the final two facilities: Freeport LNG in Texas and Kinder Morgan’s Elba Island project in Georgia.

Sunday, 01/13/2019

Liquefaction capacity additions will add about 5 Bcf/d of natural gas demand in 2019, with almost all of that happening along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. The planned start-up of new liquefaction trains at the Sabine Pass, Corpus Christi, Cameron, Freeport and Elba Island projects means we can expect U.S. LNG export demand to double to nearly 9 Bcf/d by the end of the year. How fast will that new capacity and gas demand come on and how will the gas get to where it needs to be? Today, we take a closer look at the timing of the liquefaction capacity build-out and the related feedgas routes.

Monday, 01/07/2019

It’s so ironic. New England is only a stone’s throw from the burgeoning Marcellus natural gas production area, but pipeline constraints during high-demand periods in the wintertime leave power generators in the six-state region gasping for more gas. Now, with only minimal expansions to New England’s gas pipeline network on the horizon, the region is doubling down on a long-term plan to rely on a combination of gas liquefaction, LNG storage, LNG imports and gas-to-oil fuel switching at dual-fuel power plants to help keep the heat and lights on through those inevitable cold snaps. Today, we discuss recent developments on the gas-supply front in “Patriots Nation.”

Thursday, 01/03/2019

Feedgas demand for U.S. LNG exports has accelerated in recent months with the addition of new liquefaction and upstream pipeline capacity. The latest export facility contributing to the winter surge in feedgas flows is Cheniere Energy’s Corpus Christi LNG (CCL) in South Texas — the first greenfield LNG export terminal in the Lower 48 and the first such terminal, greenfield or otherwise, in Texas. Train 1 has yet to be commercialized, but already it’s added 0.5 Bcf/d of gas demand to the Texas market through December. The facility sources its gas via a number of legacy interstate and Texas intrastate pipelines, many of which have undergone reversals and expansions in order to serve LNG terminals but also another competing export market: Mexico. How will CCL change gas flows in South Texas? Today, we provide an update of feedgas flows to Corpus Christi, including a closer look at the upstream pipeline routes facilitating those flows.

Wednesday, 12/26/2018

After somewhat of a lull in U.S. LNG export growth through much of 2018, demand for feedgas has revved up this fall. Total feedgas deliveries to U.S. LNG export terminals topped 5 Bcf/d for the first time this past weekend, thereby also surpassing exports to Mexico for the first time. All five commercialized liquefaction trains — four at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass and one at Dominion’s Cove Point LNG — are operating at or near full capacity for the first time. Simultaneously, commissioning activity is under way now for four new liquefaction trains, including the initial trains at two new export terminals. This steady gas demand is underpinned by gas pipeline expansions designed to provide more direct and economical connectivity between U.S. producing regions and the export terminals. Today, we continue our blog series looking at feedgas pipeline projects and their effect on feedgas flows, this time with a focus on Dominion’s Cove Point LNG.

Tuesday, 12/18/2018

The latest weather forecasts for the second half of December have taken the edge off the U.S. natural gas market and reduced the chance of a true doomsday storage scenario. But U.S. gas storage inventories nonetheless remain at historically low levels, and long-term weather forecasts are notoriously fickle. So this winter could still see a resurgence in volatility before the market finds a balance. And while Henry Hub prices went on a wild ride earlier this month before settling back in below $4/MMBtu, for most of December thus far, Eastern gas prices have traded at levels that make LNG exports from there uneconomic. In today’s blog, we continue our review of the winter U.S. gas market with a closer look at how Cove Point Liquefaction (CPL) might respond to high prices.

Monday, 12/17/2018

Feedgas demand at U.S. LNG export terminals has climbed 1.3 Bcf/d, or ~40%, in just three months to an average 4.4 Bcf/d in December to date and hit an all-time single-day high of over 4.6 Bcf/d last Tuesday. The big jump in demand came as U.S. Gulf Coast LNG operators have begun commissioning three new liquefaction trains, including the initial trains at two new export terminals. At the same time, pipeline expansions targeting both existing and newly active terminals have been completed to meet that demand. How are the new trains being supplied and what’s the effect on gas flows? Today’s blog takes a closer look at recent changes in liquefaction and feedgas delivery capacity and their effect on feedgas flows, starting with Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction.

Sunday, 12/16/2018

Gross production of natural gas in the Niobrara region topped 5 Bcf/d for the fourth consecutive month in November 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration, and it's estimated that regional output this month will hit another record: nearly 5.2 Bcf/d. These production gains, and the concentration of new wells in or near Weld County, CO — the epicenter of the Niobrara’s Denver-Julesburg Basin — are straining the ability of existing gas processing plants to keep up, and spurring the rapid development of new processing capacity. The scale of the build-out in the D-J is impressive: some 2.7 Bcf/d in new cryogenic plants are either under construction or in various stages of pre-construction planning in northeastern Colorado. Today, we continue our review of Rockies crude oil, gas and NGL production and infrastructure, this time focusing on gas-processing needs in the sky-high D-J.

Wednesday, 12/12/2018

The U.S. natural gas market’s supply-demand balance in 2018 has been razor thin, with demand ramping up to match strong production gains. The result has been a large and stubborn storage deficit compared to prior years and price volatility, the likes of which the market hasn’t seen in a decade or more. How will the current storage level affect the winter gas market, and what are the prospects for storage to catch up before the winter is up? Today’s blog considers potential scenarios for the season-ending gas inventory balance.