Northeast producers are about to get a new path to target LNG export demand at Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG terminal. Cheniere in late December received federal approval to commission its new Sabine Pass lateral—the 2.1-Bcf/d East Meter Pipeline. Also in late December, Williams indicated in a regulatory filing that it anticipates a February 1, 2017 in-service date for its 1.2-Bcf/d Gulf Trace Expansion Project, which will reverse southern portions of the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line to send Northeast supply south to the export facility via the East Meter pipe. Today we provide an update on current and upcoming pipelines supplying exports from Sabine Pass.
Demand for U.S. natural gas exports via Texas is set to increase by close to 6 Bcf/d over the next few years. At the same time, Texas production has declined more than 3.0 Bcf/d (16%) to less than 17 Bcf/d in the first half of November from a peak of over 20 Bcf/d in December 2014, and any upside from current levels is likely to be far outpaced by that export demand growth. Much of the supply for export demand from Texas will need to come from outside the state, the most likely source being the only still-growing supply regions—the Marcellus/Utica shales in the U.S. Northeast. Perryville Hub in northeastern Louisiana will be a key waystation for southbound flows from the Marcellus/Utica to target these export markets along the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast, particularly given the hub’s connectivity and prime location. Today, we look at the pipeline expansion projects into Perryville that will make this flow reversal possible.
Natural gas pipeline takeaway projects under development out of the U.S. Northeast would enable ~10 Bcf/d to flow south from the Marcellus/Utica supply area. About half of that southbound capacity is geared to serve growing power generation demand directly south and east via the Mid-Atlantic states. But another nearly 5.0 Bcf/d is headed southwest to the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast for growing LNG export and Mexico demand—and that is on top of about 4.4 Bcf/d of reversal (or backhaul) capacity already added over the past two years. Much of the Gulf Coast-bound backhaul capacity will converge on the Perryville Hub, a market center located in northeastern Louisiana, about 220 miles north of the U.S. national benchmark Henry Hub. As such, the ability for gas to move through Perryville and get to downstream demand market centers will be key to balancing the natural gas markets. Today, we take a closer look at the historical and future pipeline capacity in and around the Perryville Hub.
A total of 13 U.S. liquefaction trains with a combined capacity of about 58 MTPA (~8 Bcf/d) are either in early stages of operation along the Gulf Coast or under construction and scheduled to be online by the end of 2019. Of that, about 3.2 Bcf/d is being developed along the Texas Gulf Coast. Beyond that, a “second wave” of liquefaction projects is lining up, with as much as an additional 11 Bcf/d of capacity proposed for Texas by the early 2020s. While many of these second-wave projects may not get built, those that do will require the construction or rejigging of hundreds of miles of pipelines, particularly along that Gulf Coast corridor. Several of the first and second wave liquefaction projects have proposed to build laterals that connect to and branch out from nearby long-haul pipelines, creating new Gulf Coast-bound delivery points for Eagle Ford shale gas as well for supply that will eventually move south from supply basins as far north as the Marcellus and Utica shales. Today, we take a closer look at these liquefaction-related pipeline projects and how they will connect to and impact the existing pipeline network.
Two new 50-Mb/d, Kinder Morgan-owned and -operated condensate splitters came online during the first seven months of 2015, backed by a 10-year BP commitment to process a total of 84 Mb/d through the units. Located in the Houston Ship Channel’s refinery row, the splitters were expected to provide a profitable outlet to process growing volumes of the ultra-light crude oil known as condensate. Instead, average plant throughput through July 2016 has been only 71% of capacity, well below the 90% average operating level of neighboring refineries. The relatively low level at which these units have been operating reflects sagging condensate processing margins. Today, we detail how Kinder Morgan’s new splitters have been run during their first year or so of operation.
Since the first LNG ship left its dock in February, Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG terminal has exported 17 cargoes containing the super-cooled, liquefied equivalent of over 50 Bcf of natural gas from the first of six planned liquefaction “trains.” And in a monthly progress report filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month, Sabine Pass said it expected to begin loading a commissioning cargo from Train 2 in August, with commercial operation of that facility starting as early as September. In today’s blog we provide an update of Sabine Pass’s export activity, as well as the impact on the U.S. gas flows and demand.
U.S. natural gas production growth has spurred a massive build-out of natural gas pipeline capacity in recent years, and a lot more is on the way, particularly out of the Northeast. To Marcellus and Utica producers eager to improve returns on their investments, this incremental pipeline capacity is a long-overdue relief valve for the pressure that’s been building in the region from growing supply congestion and low prices. But pipeline development is an expensive, long-term endeavor, and few, if any, pipeline projects are slam-dunks. Also, market conditions initially driving the development of new takeaway capacity may change, putting a project’s relevance—and, in turn, its utilization and profitability—at risk. In today’s blog, we begin a look at how midstream companies and their potential shippers evaluate (and continually reassess) the economic rationale for new pipeline capacity in today’s very changeable markets.
A combination of pipelines and ships delivers some 4 MMb/d of transportation and heating fuels to the U.S. East Coast, most of it from Gulf Coast refineries. But there’s always room for improvement in refined products delivery infrastructure, whether it’s pipeline or port capacity expansions, new pipeline spurs, or new storage capability. The aim of these projects is almost always the same: to make distribution more efficient and to hold down the per-barrel cost of delivery. Today, we conclude our series with a look at possible infrastructure improvements and a note about the challenges these projects face.
After years of debate and speculation regarding prospects for U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the first cargo left the Gulf Coast around 8:30 pm EST Wednesday (February 24, 2016) from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal, according to Genscape’s global LNG cargo monitoring service. The vessel carrying a little more than 3.0 Bcf of LNG is reportedly bound for Petrobras in Brazil. The incremental export demand that this LNG cargo and others like it to follow represent, is potentially good news for U.S. gas producers, with benchmark futures prices at Henry Hub, LA closing yesterday (February 25, 2016) near record seasonal lows at $1.711/MMBtu in the face of mild winter demand, record production and brimming storage levels. Today we look at how this first cargo was supplied and what that tells us about current and future impact to flows and regional prices.
The first U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export cargo from the Lower 48 is now likely within just a week or two of shipping from the Cheniere Sabine Pass, LA terminal. In the meantime, physical flow data is already giving us a first glance at how the terminal will be supplied from U.S. natural gas production. In today’s blog, we begin a look at flows to the terminal, how the gas is getting there and where it’s coming from.
Corpus Christi has emerged as an important crude refining and distribution market hub for Eagle Ford and Permian Basin crude and lease condensate. Corpus has a lot going for it: it’s close to--and well-connected by pipeline with--the Eagle Ford, it has new and potentially growing connections with Permian; and Corpus and its environs boast considerable crude/condensate storage, refining and processing capacity, as well as one of the nation’s busiest ports. Today we continue our review of Eagle Ford crude/condensate pipelines feeding Corpus including Kinder Morgan, NuStar, Magellan and Harvest pipelines.
There was a lot of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth last week in energy markets, and it had nothing to do with the OPEC non-event. Instead, the focus was Kinder Morgan (KMI), granddaddy of U.S. midstream companies, and usually a darling of analysts and media. Not this time. Over the past few days the stock has been hammered, Moody’s downgraded its debt, and a lot of folks in the market have been trying to figure out what is going on. Particularly since all the hubbub would seem to be about a relatively minor investment (in energy infrastructure terms) in a pipeline called Natural Gas Pipeline of America, or NGPL, one of the oldest of the long-line systems in the U.S., which came online 84 years ago and Kinder Morgan has owned all (or part of) since 1999. In today’s blog, we look at this pipeline system and what it tells us about the current state of the natural gas markets.
The cost to charter U.S. Flag Jones Act tankers that are used to transport crude and refined products along U.S. coastal waters is still as high as $75,000/day for medium-range 330 MBbl vessels. That’s four times what it costs for an equivalent foreign flag tanker. Higher charter rates – caused by tight vessel supply in a regulated market – have attracted investment from Kinder Morgan and other midstream companies and the tanker fleet will expand by 40% in the next 3 years. Today we discuss the market potential.
The Jones Act (see The Sea and Mr. Jones) is a federal statute requiring that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S. Flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and/or U.S. permanent residents. Because of the regulations, operating expenses are higher for Jones Act vessels (as much as 2.7 times non-flag alternatives according to a U.S. Maritime Administration (MORAD) study in 2011). We have provided considerable coverage of the role that Jones Act vessels have played in the U.S. crude oil distribution system over the past 4 years since shale production increased domestic output including our Rock The Boat series in the spring of 2014. Subscribers to RBN’s Backstage Pass service can download a copy of the comprehensive “Rock The Boat” Drill Down Report that accompanied that series and contained a detailed inventory of the larger vessels and their owners.
Crude production in the Niobrara shale formation is focused on two areas, the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin in Northeast Colorado and the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming. Production has expanded in both basins (current output is about 435 Mb/d according to the Energy Information Administration) but much of the recent volume growth has come from the DJ basin. Expectations as recently as last year that production would expand to over 700 Mb/d in the next 4 years have been tempered by the crude price crash. A couple of large pipeline projects prompted last year by those production expectations have been cancelled since but others are still being built. Today we assess crude takeaway infrastructure in the DJ basin.
The deluge of light (and super light) sweet crude from U.S. tight-oil plays like the Permian Basin, Bakken and Eagle Ford has had many effects, including a push by refiners to rework facilities designed for heavy-crude processing to handle an excess of lighter oils. Many of these projects are underway and expected online in the next two years. Today, we consider refinery infrastructure investments that might not pan out in a low crude price world.