The worst of this winter’s cold has passed, but the impact of structural changes in U.S. power generation will be felt in natural gas markets for years to come. The generation mix has been changing rapidly in recent years, and the switch from coal to gas is happening at an even faster pace on the East Coast than in the country overall. This switch reflects both coal-plant retirements and ongoing competition between remaining coal plants and gas plants. But low-cost gas supplies in the Marcellus and Utica plays don’t always have ready access to the biggest consuming markets, and this winter, we saw how the increasing call on gas for Eastern power generation can stress the gas pipeline grid and cause price blowouts. Today, we continue a series on Eastern power generation and prices by untangling the sources and drivers of gas-fired generation growth in the region.
After a three-year hiatus, winter returned to the U.S. natural gas market this year in the form of a “Bomb Cyclone” and more than a week of frigid temperatures. The cold weather pushed Henry Hub prices above $6/MMBtu and East Coast prices higher than $100/MMBtu on some days. This winter, the pain wasn’t just confined to New England. Prices at Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco) Zone 5, which includes the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland, hit all-time highs on January 5. Exports from Dominion’s Cove Point terminal in Maryland are only just getting started so it’s not liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the East Coast that are driving prices higher. Instead, it’s gas’s increasing role in winter power generation that has been putting pressure on East Coast gas pipeline deliverability. Today, we begin a series explaining why prices have been so high on very cold days this winter and why more price spikes may be ahead.
The clock is ticking for international shipping companies, cruise lines and others to determine how they will meet the much more stringent standard for bunker fuel sulfur content that will kick in just over two years from now. While many shipowners will likely meet the International Marine Organization’s 0.5% sulfur cap in January 2020 by shifting to low-sulfur marine distillate or a heavy fuel oil/distillate blend, a smaller number are investing in ships fueled by LNG. LNG easily complies with the sulfur cap, and while it costs more than high-sulfur HFO — the bunker that currently dominates world shipping — it is less expensive than the low-sulfur distillate and HFO/distillate blends that will be needed to meet the new standard. But there are catches with LNG, including the need to dedicate more onboard space for fuel tanks and (even more importantly) the lack of LNG fueling infrastructure in a number of ports. Today, we discuss the short and long-term outlook for LNG as a marine fuel.
U.S. trucking companies, trash haulers and transit agencies continue to invest in new vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas, in part to meet corporate or agency carbon-footprint goals. But the economic rationale for switching trucks and buses from diesel to CNG or LNG is weaker than it was a few years ago, when diesel cost two-thirds more than natural gas fuels on a per-BTU basis — prices for diesel, CNG and LNG are now in the same ballpark. Also, developing regional or national networks of CNG/LNG fueling stations doesn’t come cheap. Today, we discuss the growing use of natural gas in trucks and buses — and threats to that trend.
With Lower-48 natural gas production at record highs and averaging more than 5.0 Bcf/d higher than this time last year, LNG export demand will be all the more critical this winter and the rest of 2018 in order to balance the U.S. gas market. Deliveries to Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG facility (SPL) are above 3.0 Bcf/d. Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG is due to add nearly 0.8 Bcf/d of export capacity and begin exporting commissioning cargoes any day now. Two other projects — Elba Island LNG and Freeport LNG — are due online before the end of 2018, while another high-capacity project, Cameron LNG, faces delays. These facilities will increase baseload demand for gas in the new year, but will it be enough, and how will it impact gas pipeline flows upstream? Today, we provide an update on the timing and potential impacts of new export LNG capacity over the next year.
Mexico’s natural gas supply situation is in a state of flux, to say the least. Gas production within Mexico continues to decline, but there’s hope it can rebound in the country’s Burgos Shale region. Gas demand is rising fast, and new gas pipelines are being built to deliver Permian and other U.S. gas to new Mexican power plants. At the same time, though, delays in completing some of these new pipes have forced Mexico’s electricity authority to turn to LNG imports to keep gas supply and demand in balance. And yet, plans are afoot to export LNG to Asia from Mexico’s west coast by the early 2020s — gas that, by the way, would initially originate in Texas. Today, we explore recent developments in the Mexican gas arena.
Energy Transfer Partners Rover Pipeline’s Mainline A first began flowing natural gas west from the Marcellus/Utica on September 1, and volumes are now averaging about 1.0 Bcf/d. The bulk of that is being delivered into TransCanada’s ANR Pipeline and, pipeline flow data shows some of that, either directly or indirectly, is making it all the way south to the Gulf Coast, specifically toward Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG liquefaction and export facility (SPL). Deliveries to the facility have climbed to nearly 3.0 Bcf/d in recent weeks as the fourth liquefaction train was brought online. Along the way, the Rover-ANR combo is increasing competition with other pipes that feed ANR, including other Marcellus/Utica takeaway pipelines such as REX and Dominion. Today, we look at how Rover has changed flow patterns for gas targeting Gulf Coast demand.
Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG liquefaction and export facility in Louisiana last week received federal approval to begin operating its fourth 650-MMcf/d liquefaction train, bringing the total export capacity at the terminal to 2.6 Bcf/d. Natural gas supply delivered to the terminal for export has averaged 2.0 Bcf/d in recent months, with flows jumping as high as 2.9 Bcf/d on some days last month as the operator readied Train 4 for operations. There are several supply regions targeting this new demand, including the fastest growing producing region, the Marcellus/Utica Shale in the U.S. Northeast. While there isn’t yet a direct beeline from the Marcellus/Utica to Sabine Pass, there are early indications that recent pipeline takeaway and reversal projects from the producing region and the resulting connectivity are indirectly bridging the divide. In today’s blog, we examine pipeline flow data to understand recent changes in flows and what they can tell us about future flow patterns as export demand continues to grow.
Natural gas deliveries for export via Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana reached a record in late July, topping 2.5 Bcf/d. In the first seven months of 2017, exports have added an average of 1.5 Bcf/d — or more than 300 Bcf total — of baseload gas demand year on year. Thus far, the terminal has been operating with three liquefaction trains. Now the fourth train, which would bring on another 650-MMcf/d of potential export demand, is nearing completion. The incremental gas deliveries are scheduled to come just as winter heating season is kicking off and likely will tighten the gas market. Today, we look at the latest developments at the terminal.
Growth in LNG supply and demand, the ongoing restructuring of the LNG sector and other factors are giving new significance to the nearly 500 specialized, oceangoing vessels that transport the supercooled, liquefied natural gas around the world. It used to be that the vast majority of LNG was delivered in milk run-like fashion under long-term contracts between suppliers and buyers, but that’s no longer the case. Now, the LNG market is much less structured and more fluid, with spot-market sales becoming more common and with the captains of some LNG-laden vessels not sure where they will end up as they head out of port. Today we describe the ins and outs of the shipping sector that moves hundreds of millions of metric tons of LNG annually.
The U.S. and Australia have been ramping up their LNG exports — Australia already is the world’s second-largest LNG exporter after Qatar and the U.S. will soon rank third. Two recent events highlight the difference between the two countries and their natural gas markets. First, in June the Australian prime minister acted to curtail LNG exports next year because of gas-supply shortages affecting domestic consumers. Second, on July 19, the Potential Gas Committee released its biennial analysis of recoverable gas resources in the U.S.; its findings support the view that U.S. LNG exports can continue growing without causing domestic supply constraints. Today we review the PGC report and the Australian LNG/supply situation, then compare the two markets.
The international spot price for liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been steady-as-she-goes the past few months, within a few dimes of $5.50/MMBtu, but that stability belies the upheavals the LNG industry continues to experience. The old paradigm of long-term contracts and milk-run deliveries from supplier to buyer is breaking down. New Australian and U.S. liquefaction capacity is coming online fast and furious, exacerbating the global LNG supply glut, and Qatar — the world’s largest LNG supplier, just announced plans to increase its output by 30%. With LNG readily available and priced to sell, new LNG buyers are entering the fray, developing natural gas-fired power plants that will be fueled by imported LNG. What does all this mean for the next wave of U.S. liquefaction projects and for natural gas producers in the Marcellus/Utica and the Permian? Today we continue our look at the topsy-turvy LNG sector.
For several years now, power generators and other major energy users in the Caribbean have been working to shift from diesel or fuel oil to alternative fuels — mostly natural gas delivered by ship as liquefied natural gas (LNG), but also propane. A few significant projects have advanced, and new infrastructure to receive LNG and propane has been put in place to support additional fuel imports into the region. But other projects have been delayed or even scrapped because of financial or regulatory troubles. Today we update the laid-back region’s efforts to wean itself off diesel- and fuel-oil-fired power.
The contiguous U.S. natural gas market is on its way to having its second major LNG export terminal and a new source of demand in the Northeast region by the end of the year. Dominion’s Cove Point liquefaction project, located on the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, Maryland, last month received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to introduce fuel gas, signaling the start of commissioning activities, a precursor to start-up activities for the liquefaction train itself. Dominion also last November applied for permission from the Department of Energy to export up to 250 Bcf of LNG during pre-commercial operations starting as early as fourth-quarter 2017, and is awaiting a response. Once operational, the facility, which is located within just a few hundred miles of the Marcellus/Utica shales — will have access to one of the primary southbound pipeline corridors for Marcellus/Utica takeaway capacity and add nearly 0.8 Bcf/d of demand to the Northeast gas market. Today we provide a detailed look at the Cove Point LNG facility.
In only three years, the international liquefied natural gas (LNG) market has undergone a major transformation. The old order, founded on long-term, bilateral contracts with LNG prices linked to crude oil prices, is being replaced by a more-fluid, more-competitive paradigm. That’s good news for LNG buyers, who are benefiting from a supply glut and lower LNG prices—the twin results of slower-than-expected demand growth in 2014-15 and the addition of several new liquefaction/LNG export facilities in Australia and the U.S. But the new paradigm poses a challenge for facility developers: How do they line up commitments for new liquefaction/LNG export capacity that will be needed a few years from now in a market characterized by LNG oversupply and rock-bottom prices? Today we begin a two-part series that considers the hurdles developers face and which types of projects may have the best prospects.