natural gas

Monday, 10/19/2015

The acquisition of Williams Companies by Energy Transfer will create a midstream behemoth. The deal is expected to close during the first half of 2016 subject to regulatory approval. Once complete the main holding company Energy Transfer Corp (ETC) will be a C-Corp entity sitting atop Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs – see Masters of the Midstream for a more complete explanation of these structures) containing the assets of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), Williams Energy Partners (WPZ), Sunoco LP (SUN) and Sunoco Logistics (SXL). The combined natural gas pipeline network will carry as much as 45% of U.S. Lower 48 dry gas production. Today we take a look at the natural gas infrastructure assets in the deal.

Wednesday, 10/14/2015

On Tuesday of this week the Energy Information Administration released its latest Drilling Productivity Report, projecting declines in US natural gas production volumes. Meanwhile, daily pipeline flow data shows gas production hitting record highs and gas storage fill could also be heading toward maximum levels.  The CME/NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas price for the November 2015 is responding to these burgeoning supplies, settling yesterday at $2.518/MMBtu, near all-time lows for this time of year. Today we continue our look at the various sources of natural gas production data and what they tell us.

Tuesday, 10/13/2015

In a $38 Billion transaction announced September 28, 2015, Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) agreed to gobble up The Williams Companies in a deal expected to close during the first half of 2016. The combination of these two companies creates a U.S. midstream giant that will own infrastructure including gas pipelines carrying as much as 45% of U.S. Lower 48 dry gas production, processing capacity producing16% of domestic natural gas liquids (NGL’s) and crude oil pipelines in the Permian, Eagle Ford and Bakken. Today we take a look at the liquids infrastructure assets in this giant deal and provide a download of RBN’s maps of the infrastructure involved.

Monday, 10/12/2015

Depending on whom you believe, the international liquefied natural gas (LNG) market is either struggling through a period of oversupply and rock-bottom prices or poised for a new round of demand growth based on that low-cost supply abundance. (Hint: The answer may well be both of the above.) For electric and natural gas utilities that want to become LNG importers as quickly—and as cheaply--as possible, an increasingly popular option is buying or (more likely) chartering a floating storage and regasification unit, or FSRU. Today, we look at the growing use of FSRUs and how they may boost the LNG market.

Thursday, 10/08/2015

The CME/NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas futures price averaged $2.64/MMBtu in September, the lowest level for any September since 2001, and it continues to hover at a similar low for October so far. Rig counts are down nearly 60% since December 2014. The market is on high alert for the first sign of production declines that might encourage higher prices – believing this to be a matter of sooner or later. Yet natural gas production has been hitting all-time records. Today we look at monthly natural gas production data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Wednesday, 10/07/2015

For nearly two months -- Since late July -- WTI crude oil prices have averaged $45/bbl, never once closing above the $50/bbl mark.  Over the same period, the natural gas price at Henry Hub has averaged $2.70/MMbtu and now languishes $.20/MMbtu lower.  Is this a time to be wallowing in misery and self-pity?  Absolutely not!!  This is the time for midstreamers and producers to reposition their businesses with a laser-like focus on the opportunities that low prices have served up.  There are bargains out there in the oil (and gas) patch.  If producers are in the right locations, with drilling costs much lower than last year, there is good money to be made.  And likewise, opportunities abound for midstreamers to pick up assets at very attractive prices to get that production to market.  But to execute such a strategy, you must have a rock-solid understanding of what is really going on in today’s markets for crude oil, NGLs and natural gas.  Our goal for the upcoming State of the Energy Markets Conference scheduled for October 28, 2015 in Denver, CO is just exactly that - to give you a rock-solid market knowledge based on hard data and thorough analysis.  Today’s blog is an advertorial for the conference.

Monday, 10/05/2015

Crude oil producers in the Bakken region responded to the oil price collapse with drilling cutbacks and a laser-like focus on sweet-spot areas with high initial production rates. It turns out those oil sweet spots also produce a lot of associated natural gas. But there’s not enough infrastructure in place to deal with the extra gas, and that’s slowing North Dakota’s efforts to reduce flaring (burning gas that can’t be utilized for various reasons). Today, we consider the multiple, domino-like effects that low oil prices are having on one of the U.S.’s most important tight oil plays.

Tuesday, 09/22/2015

Production growth, new processing infrastructure and increased use of rail are shifting traditional flow patterns in the propane industry. New production and processing is adjacent to historic centers of consumer demand in the Northeast and Mid-Continent – reducing seasonal risks of shortage. Rail distribution improves delivery flexibility. The supply chain has to be flexible enough to balance seasonal consumer demand with increased chemical processing and high export volumes. Today we describe improved regional interconnectivity.

Monday, 09/21/2015

U.S. Lower 48 natural gas production is averaging a record 74.2 Bcf/d in September to date, according to PointLogic Energy. Meanwhile, CME’s Henry Hub natural gas futures contract has languished at an average of $2.68/MMBtu this month to date, the lowest for any September since 2001. Much of the recent gain in natural gas production has come from  new Utica Shale output.  In today’s blog, we drill down into the region’s pipeline flow data to see where exactly the growth is coming from, what’s driving it and what it could mean for natural gas supply.

Sunday, 09/20/2015

Another round of big changes are coming to the markets for natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and crude oil. The surging production growth that has characterized these markets has slowed and in some basins is starting to fall as the mass exodus of drilling rigs begins to take its toll on shale production.  But what about all that infrastructure that has been and continues to be built?  Billions of dollars are going into pipelines, processing plants, petrochemical plants, terminals, storage, etc. based on a much higher production growth scenario than now seems likely.  Where are the opportunities in this new energy market reality? The answer depends on a discernable pattern of events tied to production volumes, infrastructure capacity, commodity flows and project expenditures. Those are the themes of our latest State of the Energy Markets Conference scheduled for October 28, 2015 in Denver, CO as well as the subject of today’s blog – also an advertorial for the conference.

Monday, 09/14/2015

Only a few months ago, it seemed likely that Hawaii’s electric and gas utilities would wean themselves off crude oil and naphtha-based gas in favor of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Now though, with oil prices low—and expected by many to stay low—the Aloha State’s governor says that he thinks the planned shift to LNG would be too costly and that he’ll fight it. The utilities still see LNG as the way to go, pointing to falling LNG prices and natural gas’s environmental benefits over oil. Today, we consider how lower prices for crude oil and LNG are affecting the debate about Hawaii’s energy future.

Thursday, 09/10/2015

U.S. natural gas production has been essentially flat this summer as many producers curtailed, deferred or delayed drilling and well completions earlier in the year. However, some of the same producers, particularly in the Northeast, in their most recent earnings calls, indicated they expect to meet their 2015 production targets by increasing output this winter. In today’s blog, we look at how and why producers defer production and the potential impacts on the market in Q4.

Wednesday, 09/09/2015

Natural gas has always had a yin-yang relationship with coal. When coal’s fortunes were on the rise, as they were only a few years ago, the long-term role of gas as a U.S. power plant fuel was being questioned—there simply wasn’t enough gas in the ground, some said. Now, with the shale revolution and a push to slash greenhouse gas emissions, coal is frequently portrayed in a death spiral, with gas the clear victor. But it is not that simple. Today, we examine the ongoing interplay between the electric industry’s two favorite fossil fuels, and whether coal is heading out or hanging on—and what it means for natural gas producers.

Thursday, 09/03/2015

Projected growth in U.S. methanol production was based in large part on the expectation that domestic natural gas prices would remain significantly lower (on a per-MMBtu basis) than the price of crude oil, and that Asian demand for U.S.-sourced methanol would continue rising at a fast clip. Today both of those assumptions look dicey.  Natural gas prices remain low, but crude prices have languished below $50/Bbl for most of the past two months, and there are worries that China (by far the world’s largest methanol consumer) may be an economic bubble about to burst. Today, we consider recent developments that could slow the long-anticipated growth in natural gas use by U.S. methanol producers.

Sunday, 08/30/2015

The U.S. natural gas market has been dogged all summer by uncertainty on both sides of the supply-demand equation and a looming threat of storage constraints and supply congestion by the end of the gas storage injection season. But production volumes have flattened and demand has responded at record levels taking some of the edge off the bearish sentiment. Cash and futures prices at U.S. benchmark Henry Hub in Louisiana have traded in a remarkably tight 60-cent range all summer and averaged $2.75/MMBtu season to date, indicating the market has found an equilibrium. However with just two months of the natural gas summer season left and the hottest, highest-demand months behind us, the price stalemate may come under pressure, with more downside risk in the near-term. In today’s blog, we revisit where the supply-demand balance stands and what it tells us about where the gas market is headed in the near term.