natural gas

Everyone in Texas remembers the infamous Winter Storm Uri of three years ago. What started out as a simple cold snap for many quickly turned into something far more serious: the biggest power outage in state history, with billions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of lives lost. Since then, the expected arrival of frigid temperatures has been met with some trepidation, but the critical failures of February 2021 have so far been avoided in subsequent storms. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the steps the state has taken in recent years to weatherize its power grid, show why January’s cold snap turned out to be no big deal, and explain why renewables are playing an increasingly important role in grid reliability during extreme weather conditions. 

As mightily as U.S. LNG exports have impacted global trade dynamics, so have U.S. natural gas flows been reshaped by the pull toward Gulf Coast export terminals. The next new terminal on deck is Venture Global’s enormous Plaquemines facility in Louisiana, which could begin taking feedgas as early as late fall 2024 and will eventually ramp up to more than 2.6 Bcf/d. For Southeast Louisiana, home to a massive industrial corridor along the Mississippi River as well as the U.S. natural gas benchmark Henry Hub, the introduction of such a huge source of demand will change how gas flows into and out of the region — with knock-on effects across the Gulf Coast. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll turn once again to our Arrow Model to help illuminate what the path forward may look like. 

Big changes are coming to the new epicenter of the global LNG market: Texas and Louisiana. On top of the existing 12.5 Bcf/d of LNG export capacity in the two states, another 11+ Bcf/d of additional capacity is planned by 2028. The good news is that the two major supply basins that will feed this LNG demand — the Permian and the Haynesville — will be growing, but unfortunately not quite as fast as LNG exports beyond 2024. And there’s another complication, namely that the two basins are hundreds of miles from the coastal LNG terminals, meaning that we’ll need to see lots of incremental pipeline capacity developed to move gas to the water. 

The Biden administration’s recently announced decision to pause further action on new LNG export permits for at least several months sent shockwaves through the industry and shook up expectations regarding which projects will be hurt by — or benefit from — the pause. As we’ll discuss in today’s RBN blog, the decision is likely to put a number of Gulf Coast LNG export projects (one of them a real giant) in limbo, set back a Mexican project that would depend on Permian and Eagle Ford gas, and boost a couple of projects up in Canada. Oh, and there’s this: The pause also may help two avowed enemies of the U.S.: Russia and Iran. 

Since the mid-2010s, Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has developed a massive fleet of natural-gas-fired combined-cycle plants and helped to underwrite the buildout of a far-reaching network of gas pipelines from South Texas and West Texas into and through much of Mexico. Now, there’s a big push to extend that network southeast through the Yucatán Peninsula to serve new power plants and industrial facilities there. The question is, with the vast majority of the pipeline capacity down Mexico’s East Coast already locked up, where will the Yucatán’s incremental gas come from? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss this potential disconnect between Mexico’s gas-related aspirations and reality. 

So far this winter, front-month CME/NYMEX natural gas futures have fallen, risen and fallen again but, until their most recent dip, generally remained within the same $2.30-to-$3.30/MMBtu range where they have been lingering since mid-2023. With production sustaining near-record levels, LNG export volumes down from the winter highs, and temperatures back to normal, the supply of gas remains plentiful — a bearish scenario. In today’s RBN blog, we look at why there’s been a lid on natural gas prices — and the odds that the situation might change before the rapidly-approaching end of the winter season.

Natural gas storage — especially well-sited storage with lightning-fast deliverability rates — is taking on a new significance (and value) as LNG export facilities and power generators seek to manage their often-volatile gas demand. But developing new gas storage capacity is costly and, with only a few exceptions, it’s hard to make an economic case for greenfield projects. That reality has spurred a lot of interest among midstream companies in acquiring existing storage assets and, where feasible, expanding that storage. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss one of the biggest storage-acquisition deals to date: Williams Companies’ recent purchase of six facilities with a combined working gas capacity of 115 Bcf in Louisiana and Mississippi. (It’s not all that Williams has been up to on the gas-storage front.) 

There’s no doubt about it: The Biden administration’s decision to pause approval of LNG export licenses  poses a new threat to a number of projects thought to be nearing a final investment decision (FID). The questions brought on by the move are profound: how big of a problem is this for U.S. developers, how does the timeout affect the projects now in limbo, and — over the longer term — what does the added uncertainty regarding incremental LNG exports mean for U.S. crude oil and natural gas production and what does it mean for the global energy landscape? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the factors that led to the administration’s announcement — and the case to be made that expanded LNG exports are in the U.S.’s economic and strategic interest. 

The current winter heating season in Canada has seen extremes of warmth and cold, but much more of the former than the latter. Given that the Canadian natural gas market was already oversupplied and struggling with record-high gas storage levels as winter approached, even the most intense cold blast in mid-January wasn’t enough to return the supply/demand balance north of the 49th parallel to anything near normal. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss where the Canadian market stands as the calendar turns to February and what that might mean for end-of-winter gas balances. 

Big changes are coming to the new epicenter of the global LNG market: Texas and Louisiana. On top of the existing 12.5 Bcf/d of LNG export capacity in the two states, another 11+ Bcf/d of additional capacity is planned by 2028. The good news is that the two major supply basins that will feed this LNG demand — the Permian and the Haynesville — will be growing, but unfortunately not quite as fast as LNG exports beyond 2024. And there’s another complication, namely that the two basins are hundreds of miles from the coastal LNG terminals, meaning that we’ll need to see lots of incremental pipeline capacity developed to move gas to the water. 

With all the talk about U.S. LNG exports and plans for more LNG export capacity, it can be easy to forget that more than 6 Bcf/d of U.S. natural gas — mostly from the Permian and the Eagle Ford — is being piped to Mexico. That’s more than 3X the volumes that were being piped south of the border 10 years ago, a tripling made possible by the buildout of new pipelines from the Agua Dulce and Waha hubs to the Rio Grande and, from there, new pipes within Mexico. And where is all that gas headed? Mostly to new gas-fired power plants and industrial facilities — a handful of new LNG export terminals being planned on that side of the border will only add to the demand. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the ever-increasing flows of gas to Mexico and the tens of billions of dollars of new infrastructure making it all possible. 

In a deal the energy industry had been whispering about for months, Chesapeake Energy and Southwestern Energy will combine to form what will be the largest natural gas producer in the U.S., with 7.3 Bcf/d of production in the Marcellus/Utica and the Haynesville and ready access to the Northeast and the LNG export market — assuming the merger passes muster with federal regulators. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the merger and why it makes sense for both E&Ps. 

U.S. natural gas production continues to increase, with more growth expected at least through the middle of this decade to feed new LNG export capacity coming online along the Gulf Coast. Production growth will require new infrastructure, but long-distance transmission lines have become increasingly difficult to build due to entrenched environmental opposition. Meanwhile, gathering pipes have grown in size and length, blurring the lines between gathering and transmission. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll discuss what separates gathering systems from transmission pipelines, why those differences matter, and how those systems are continuing to evolve. 

There’s been a lot of M&A activity the past couple of years among oil and gas producers — midstreamers too. That makes sense. Joining forces can provide all kinds of opportunities: for synergy, economies of scale, and expansion within (or into) key production areas, to name just a few. Well, energy-industry consolidation isn’t limited to E&Ps and midstream companies. Just recently, two major providers of contract compression services — critical to the gathering and processing of natural gas in the Permian and other plays — announced that they will be combining to form what they say will be the largest firm in that space. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at the gas compression services sector and the plan by Kodiak Gas Services to acquire CSI Compressco LP. 

We’ve been saying for a while now that the natural gas storage market may be on the verge of a comeback. At the same time, we’ve cautioned that the world has changed since the heyday of gas storage in the mid-to-late 2000s, and that while market participants are clamoring for storage solutions and storage values are rising, what’s driving storage values today is vastly different than what drove the last big capacity build-out (which resulted in a major storage overbuild). As a result, only a handful of storage projects meeting special needs in particular places are likely to reach a final investment decision (FID). In today’s RBN blog, we discuss one such project: a greenfield storage facility under construction at two depleted dry-gas reservoirs 90 miles southeast of Dallas.