After years of oversupply conditions and pipeline constraints, the U.S. Northeast natural gas market is on the verge of reaching a point where it is unconstrained by transportation capacity and enjoys increased optionality for reaching growing demand markets downstream. There are no fewer than 20 pipeline projects in the works to facilitate that. If all – or even most of them get built, the region would develop the opposite problem — not enough gas to fill all that new pipe. Ultimately, the state of the Northeast market will come down to the timing of the expansions projects compared with the pace of production growth. Today, we conclude this series with a look at how supply will line up with pipeline expansion in-service dates over the next five years.
For years now, U.S. Northeast natural gas production growth has been paced by the availability of pipeline takeaway capacity out of the Marcellus/Utica shales. Midstream companies have been racing to build the infrastructure to support drilling and rising supply in the region. And, until now, it was safe to assume that as new pipeline projects come online, volumes would grow to fill them in short order. But over the next couple of years, that may flip: takeaway capacity additions could soon outpace supply increases, and producers might not be able to keep up. Today, we provide an update of RBN’s Northeast gas production scenarios.
A record amount of natural gas supply — close to 8.0 Bcf/d — from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays is making its way to the broader U.S. market. That’s happened with the help of a substantial build-out of pipeline infrastructure to reverse gas flows out of the now oversupplied Northeast, which has allowed regional production to grow to nearly 23 Bcf/d from less than 8 Bcf/d five years ago. One of the major target markets for this gas has been the Midwest. About a third of current outbound flows is heading to the Midwest, primarily via the reversal and expansion of Tallgrass Energy’s Rockies Express Pipeline, completed earlier this year. Moreover, midstream companies are due to install an additional 5.5 Bcf/d or so of takeaway capacity to target the Midwest and Canada by late 2020, with 70% of that due this year alone, starting with Energy Transfer’s Rover Pipeline. However, many of these expansion projects have been embattled by regulatory, environmental and political hurdles during the approval process. Today we provide an update of Rover and other Midwest- and Canada-bound takeaway projects.
Plans for LNG export terminals, petrochemical plants and gas-fired power generation along the Gulf Coast have made it the #1 target market for Marcellus/Utica natural gas producers. At the same time, these demand projects along the coast, from the Southeast, Texas and even farther down in Mexico, are counting on more supply growth from Appalachia. Since 2014, close to 5.0 Bcf/d of southbound pipeline capacity has been added and another 4.0 Bcf/d is due by early 2019. Today, we continue our update of pipeline expansions out of Appalachia, this time with a focus on the Ohio-to-Gulf Coast corridor.
One of the major target markets for Appalachian natural gas is the U.S. Southeast. More than 32 GW of gas-fired power generation units are planned to be added in the South-Atlantic states by 2020 and LNG exports from the Southeast are increasing. Of the 15.5 Bcf/d of takeaway capacity planned for Appalachia, close to 5 Bcf/d is targeting this growing demand. Despite the need, these pipeline projects designed to increase southbound flows from the Marcellus Shale have faced regulatory delays and setbacks. Today, we provide an update on capacity additions moving gas south along the Atlantic Coast.
Since 2013, nearly 3.0 Bcf/d of natural gas pipeline capacity has been added from Appalachia to the heavily populated, hard-to-reach demand centers along the East Coast. And another nearly 3.0 Bcf/d is in the works. The need for gas supply reliability in the heavily populated East, along with producers’ need to move their gas to market, is driving these expansions. But concentrated population centers, along with the geography, geology and regulatory environment of the area, all also make it tough and expensive for upgrading, expanding and developing the gas transportation system. Many of the proposed projects have been delayed or canceled as a result. Today, we provide an update on eastbound pipeline expansions from Appalachia.
For years now, limited natural gas pipeline takeaway capacity has constrained gas production growth in the Marcellus/Utica natural gas shale plays in the Northeast. To fix that, a slew of pipeline projects were planned to relieve the constraints as regional supply began outstripping demand starting in 2014. Now, the region is on the verge of being unconstrained for the first time since the Shale Revolution hit Appalachia. Many of those projects have come online since then, and another 19 expansions totaling 15.5 Bcf/d are planned for completion by late 2019. If all goes as expected, this next round of projects should turn the Northeast market on its head again, as the capacity additions should start to outpace production growth. The problem, though, is that several projects have faced significant challenges in recent months, resulting in either cancellation or major delays. At the same time, Marcellus/Utica production growth has slowed dramatically in the past 18 months or so. In today’s blog, “In a Northeast Minute…Everything Can Change — An Update of Marcellus/Utica Takeaway Projects,” Sheetal Nasta begins a series looking at the status of regional takeaway capacity expansions.
Natural gas production growth in the U.S. Northeast—the primary driver of U.S. production growth in recent years—has slowed dramatically in the past few months, up no more than 1 Bcf/d year-on-year, compared with growth in increments of 3 and 4 Bcf/d in previous years. Despite the slowdown, the regional balance continues to lengthen, with supply growth outpacing demand. Yet, regional gas prices, specifically at key supply hubs, which previously were struggling under the weight of oversupply coupled with limited access to growing demand markets, are strengthening. Is this the beginning of the end of takeaway constraints and distressed supply pricing in the region? Or will constraints reemerge this summer? Today, we provide an update of Northeast gas supply/demand balance.
As a group, the nine natural gas-focused exploration and production companies that were analyzed in our Piranha! market study are forecasting a 62% increase in capital spending in 2017 compared with 2016, a significantly higher percentage gain than their oil-focused and diversified counterparts. The driver of accelerated investment is the expected completion of natural gas infrastructure that will boost takeaway capacity from the Marcellus and Utica shales, the operational focus of eight of the nine gas-weighted E&Ps. Expanded access to Canadian, Midwestern, Gulf Coast and export markets should significantly boost realizations and margin. Production growth by the nine E&Ps, which slowed to 4% in 2016 after a 19% rise in 2015, is expected to accelerate to 10% in 2017 and to rise rapidly in 2018 and beyond. Today we continue our analysis of U.S. E&P capital spending and production trends by taking a deep dive into the investment strategies of the natural gas-weighted peer group.
Rising natural gas exports from South Texas and increasing production of “associated” gas in the Permian Basin are driving the development of several new gas pipelines from West Texas to the Agua Dulce gas hub and nearby Corpus Christi. The age-old questions apply: How much new pipeline capacity will be needed, and how soon? The construction of these new pipelines also raises the question of how a potential flood of new gas supply from the Permian to the South Texas coast might affect plans by others to flow gas down the coast from Houston. Today we continue our look at proposed gas pipelines from the Permian to Agua Dulce and Corpus Christi with a review of two more projects and their potential impact.
Anticipating renewed growth in natural gas and natural gas liquids production in the Marcellus and Utica plays, midstream companies active in the region are planning new gas processing plants and fractionators, as well as new NGL takeaway capacity and in-region NGL storage. And Shell Chemicals has made a Final Investment Decision to build a $6 billion, ethane-consuming steam cracker in western Pennsylvania by the early 2020s. In today’s blog, “Unleashed in the (North)East—New Gas Processing and Fractionation Capacity in Marcellus/Utica,” Housley Carr continues our series on on-going efforts by midstreamers and others to keep pace with NGL growth in the epicenter of U.S. gas and NGL production.
Natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica plays is projected to rise by 30% or more by 2022 under all of RBN’s forecast scenarios, and production of Northeast natural gas liquids is expected to increase even more quickly. Midstream companies are responding to this next phase of gas/NGL growth with plans for still more gas-processing plants, fractionators, NGL storage facilities, and NGL takeaway capacity––pipeline, rail, ship and barge. Also, Shell Chemicals continues to advance plans for an ethane-consuming steam cracker in Beaver County, PA, and another petrochemical company may soon decide to build a cracker in Ohio. Today we begin a new series on the latest push by midstreamers to keep pace with NGL growth in the epicenter of U.S. gas and NGL production.
South Texas—and its primary trading hub, Agua Dulce—is emerging as the fulcrum for U.S. natural gas producers and growing demand markets on the Texas Gulf Coast and across the border in Mexico. Between the Freeport and Corpus Christi LNG export projects and cross-border pipeline projects to Mexico, nearly 4.0 Bcf/d of export capacity is being developed in South Texas over the next few years. Meanwhile, U.S. producers as far north as the Marcellus/Utica are jockeying to capture this new demand. Large investments are being made to expand and reverse traditional pipeline flows across the Texas-Louisiana border to get gas all the way down to South Texas and the Texas-Mexico border. But will enough capacity be available when the demand shows up? Today, we break down the natural gas supply/demand picture in South Texas and what it will take to balance the market there as exports ramp up.
Evaluating midstream companies—their assets, their value, their prospects—is a complicated task. It’s not enough to rely on the public face that companies put forward; typically, they highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. To gain a fuller understanding of midstreamers, you need to poke around, consider their individual assets, and assess the status and outlook of the various production areas they serve. Asset location matters for a lot of reasons, but mostly because midstream infrastructure serving a thriving basin—the Permian and Marcellus, for instance—will contribute a lot more to a company’s bottom line than assets serving an area in steep decline. Today we conclude a blog series that highlights key takeaways from East Daley Capital’s new, detailed assessment of more than 20 U.S. midstream companies.
So far, relatively mild weather this winter has insulated New England natural gas consumers from pipeline capacity-related price spikes that occurred during cold snaps in previous winters. And even if another polar vortex were to happen, it’s likely the regional electric grid operator’s Winter Reliability Program to shift gas-fired generators from pipeline gas to stockpiled oil or LNG would keep the lights on. But New England’s day of reckoning is coming. The region is becoming ever-more dependent on gas-fired power, most gas pipeline projects into New England are stalled or scrapped, and New York’s recently announced plan to close two Indian Point nuclear units will only make matters worse. Today we discuss the still-widening gap between Northeast pipeline capacity and gas demand.