natural gas

Wednesday, 03/20/2019

After a period of delays, commissioning activity at the newest U.S. LNG export terminals is poised to accelerate in the coming months, in turn bringing on incremental feedgas demand. Sempra’s Cameron LNG has said it’s ready to introduce feedgas to its fuel system and is awaiting federal approval. Meanwhile, liquefaction projects at Kinder Morgan’s Elba Island LNG and Freeport LNG terminals are gearing up to take feedgas in the next month or so. Feedgas deliveries to the operating export facilities in the past seven days have averaged 5.5 Bcf/d. These three projects alone are slated to add another 1.2 Bcf/d of incremental feedgas demand by July, bringing the total to 6.7 Bcf/d by then, if all goes well. In today’s blog, we continue examining the status and timing of LNG export projects in 2019, this time with a closer look at the Cameron, Elba and Freeport projects.

Thursday, 03/14/2019

Appalachia — the U.S.’s leading gas production region — is also one of the last bastions of coal country in the broader Northeast. That dual reality makes it one of the remaining pockets in the region where there is significant potential for upside in natural gas demand for power generation. Gas burn for power in the Appalachian states — Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky — surpassed power burn in the northern Mid-Atlantic market (New York/New Jersey) in 2017 and led the growth in overall Northeast power burn in 2018. The availability of consistently low-priced gas in recent years has hastened the retirement of coal-fired and nuclear generation plants in the shale producing region and fueled the addition of combined-cycle gas-fired generators, with more scheduled to come online soon. Today’s blog looks at recent and upcoming changes in the Appalachian generation fleet, and their implications for gas demand growth.

Wednesday, 03/13/2019

Producers in the Bakken and the rest of North Dakota flared record volumes of natural gas in the fourth quarter of 2018 — an average of more than 520 MMcf/d, or about 20% of total production — far exceeding the state’s current 12% flaring target. What happened? For one, crude oil production in the play took off; for another, the gas-to-oil ratio at the lease continued to increase. And while some new gas processing capacity came online last year to reduce the need for flaring, the pace of the additions was too slow to keep up with the Bakken’s rising gas output. The good news is that 2019 will bring more incremental processing capacity to North Dakota than any year to date. Today, we discuss recent setbacks on the flaring-control front and the prospects for things getting better later this year.

Tuesday, 03/12/2019

U.S. demand for LNG feedgas has picked up in recent weeks, posting a record high of 5.6 Bcf/d in late February and averaging more than 5 Bcf/d in March to date, as Cheniere Energy completed the fifth train at Sabine Pass and the first at Corpus Christi. That level is nearly 1 Bcf/d higher than last month and nearly double what it was at this time last year. But it’s just the start. Train 2 at Corpus Christi was approved for feedgas just yesterday and Kinder Morgan’s Elba Island project in Georgia just days before that. With about 30 MMtpa, or ~4.5 Bcf/d, of liquefaction and export capacity due online this year, feedgas deliveries are poised to surpass 9 Bcf/d by the end of the year, with nearly all of that incremental demand coming online along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. The pace of this demand growth over the course of the year will come down to how quickly the anticipated trains can complete construction and testing, the timing of which can depend on a whole host of factors, including the extent of the repairs or modifications that are needed along the way, the timing of regulatory approvals, or the timing of gas pipeline connections to supply the facilities. Today, we continue our series examining the status and timing of LNG export projects in 2019.

Sunday, 03/10/2019

After 19 years of natural gas production from the waters off the Canadian Maritime provinces, ExxonMobil, operator of the Sable Offshore Energy Project (SOEP), shut down production there, effective January 1, 2019. The closure further limits gas supply options for the already supply-constrained Maritimes and New England regions. Will the shutdown put even more stress on the already overtaxed gas pipeline system in New England? And will it spur increased flows of Western Canadian gas into northern New England and Canada’s Maritime provinces? Today, we continue our series examining the potential impacts of SOEP’s demise on New England gas markets.

Thursday, 03/07/2019

The Mexican market is critically important to Permian producers. Rising gas demand south of the border — along with expected gains in LNG exports from new liquefaction/export facilities along the Gulf Coast — are key to their plans to significantly increase production of crude oil, which brings with it large volumes of associated gas. All that gas needs a market, and nearby Mexico is a natural. For a number of years now, Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad has been working to implement a plan to add dozens of new gas-fired power plants and to support the development of new gas pipelines to transport gas to them from the U.S. The new pipelines have been coming online at a slower-than-planned pace. But what pipeline capacity has been added across the border from West Texas is already changing Mexico’s gas market. The El Encino Hub in Northwest Mexico is one such area where there are signs of a shifting supply-demand balance. Today, we continue a blog series on key gas pipeline developments down Mexico way and the implications for gas flows, this time delving into the dynamics at the El Encino Hub.

Tuesday, 03/05/2019

The forward curve for natural gas supports 2019 production growth that is likely to far outpace expected gains in gas demand. This impending supply/demand imbalance suggests that gas prices will be pressured lower. Lower gas prices will boost demand, but there are real limits to how much demand can rise in the short term. What will really be needed to balance the market is for producers in at least a few plays — the Marcellus and Utica among them — to rethink and rework their 2019 production plans. Which raises the questions, how much will production growth need to be cut, and where will the bulk of the pruning occur? Today, we continue our review of key themes and findings in East Daley Capital’s newly updated “Dirty Little Secrets” report on the midstream sector.

Monday, 03/04/2019

Natural gas spot prices at Sumas, WA, on Friday went as high as $200/MMBtu, a record price not only for the Pacific Northwest spot gas market, but for the U.S. That level surpassed even the highest price seen in the premium Northeast market in the pre-Shale Era. Other Western prices also rose Friday but not to anywhere near Sumas, with intraday highs at the other hubs mostly staying below $10/MMBtu. This is just the latest instance of turmoil in the Pacific Northwest gas market since last fall, when a rupture on Enbridge’s Westcoast Energy/BC Pipeline system (on October 9) disrupted Canadian gas exports to Washington State at the Sumas border crossing point. Ongoing testing on the Westcoast system and the resulting capacity reductions for deliveries to Sumas, along with reduced deliverability at the region’s largest storage facility, Jackson Prairie, over the past month have made the Pacific Northwest more of a demand “island” than ever, especially as those issues coincide with this week’s polar-vortex weather. Sumas prices for today’s flows re-entered the stratosphere, averaging just under $16/MMBtu, but remained the highest price in the country. Today, we review the market conditions contributing to the sky-high prices.

Thursday, 02/28/2019

In a world where Marcellus/Utica natural gas supplies and Gulf Coast gas demand are increasingly interdependent, what would happen if flows along a critical route connecting the two regions were disrupted? The market caught a glimpse of that on January 21, when an explosion on Texas Eastern Transmission’s 30-inch line in Noble County, OH, shut down flows through its Berne compressor, which serves as a key gateway for Gulf Coast-bound gas out of Appalachia. Partial service was restored a few days later, but a chunk of the capacity remains offline as repairs are completed, and southbound volumes are running at 60% of what they were prior to the outage. Not too long ago, an outage severing Northeast producers’ access to a major takeaway route to the Gulf would have hammered Northeast supply prices, even during the peak winter demand months. But as expansion projects have vastly improved pipeline connectivity within Appalachia and takeaway capacity out of the region, they’ve transformed how some of those legacy long-haul pipelines function and even the role they play in the market. The TETCO outage provides a glimpse into what that will mean for the Northeast and its downstream markets. In today’s blog, we begin a series looking at the implications of a well-connected Marcellus/Utica, starting with a recap of the TETCO event and its immediate impacts on southbound flows.

Wednesday, 02/27/2019

The U.S. midstream sector has been on a development binge the past few years, mostly in an effort to catch up — and then keep up — with production growth in the Shale Era’s two premier plays: the Marcellus/Utica in the Northeast and the Permian Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. What’s sometimes overlooked, however, is that significant numbers of new pipelines, processing plants and other key assets are being built in smaller, lower-profile production areas. The Niobrara’s Denver-Julesburg and Powder River basins are cases in point. Exploration and production activity in the D-J in particular has been soaring, and the resulting gains in crude oil, natural gas and NGL output has been stressing the region’s hydrocarbon-related infrastructure, thus spurring the development of new processing plants and pipelines. Also, interest in the Powder has been renewed — production there has been rebounding after crude-production ups and downs and gas-production declines through the 2010s. Today, we discuss highlights from RBN’s new Drill Down Report on the Niobrara production region.

Tuesday, 02/26/2019

With about 30 million metric tons per annum (MMtpa) of liquefaction capacity scheduled to come online in 2019, feedgas deliveries are poised to be the biggest driver of Lower-48 natural gas demand this year. The timing of this emerging export demand growth from these complex, multi-process facilities will come down to a veritable obstacle course of construction and testing timelines and regulatory approvals. Understanding these factors will be key to anticipating the gas-market impacts of the oncoming demand. Today, we begin a short series breaking down the liquefaction train commissioning process and what it tells us about the timing of incremental feedgas demand over the next several months.

Thursday, 02/21/2019

After 19 years of natural gas production from the waters off the Canadian Maritime provinces, ExxonMobil, operator of the Sable Offshore Energy Project, shut down production there effective January 1, 2019. Though the closure had been announced well in advance, the end of SOEP output has left the two natural gas-consuming provinces in the region, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, without any indigenous gas supplies. It’s also made them fully reliant on either pipeline gas from the U.S. Northeast and Western Canada or imported volumes of LNG into the Canaport Energy terminal in New Brunswick. Will the shutdown put even more stress on the already overtaxed gas pipeline system in New England? And will it spur increased flows of Western Canadian gas into northern New England and the Maritimes? Today, in Part 1 of this blog series, we begin an examination of the potential impacts of SOEP’s demise on New England and Eastern Canadian gas markets.

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.

Tuesday, 02/12/2019

U.S. crude oil, NGL and gas markets have entered a new era. Exports now dominate the supply/demand equilibrium. These markets simply would not clear at today’s production levels, much less at the flow rates coming over the next few years, if not for access to global markets. This year, the U.S. may export 20-25% of domestic crude production, 15% of natural gas and 40% of NGLs from gas processing, and those percentages will continue to ramp up. What will this massive shift in energy flows mean for U.S. markets, and for that matter, for the rest of the world? The best way to answer that question is to get the major players together under one roof and figure it out. That’s the plan for Energy xPortCon 2019. Warning!: Today’s blog is a blatant advertorial for our upcoming conference.