pipeline

When Navigator CO2 Ventures decided to pull the plug on its long-planned Heartland Greenway project, a vast network that would have captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from dozens of ethanol producers in the Midwest and Great Plains then piped them hundreds of miles for permanent sequestration, it was a significant setback for the Biden administration’s climate goals. More than that, it showed how large-scale carbon-capture projects face opposition from seemingly all sides and how the lack of a meaningful regulatory framework at the federal level only adds to the industry’s challenges. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the Heartland Greenway cancellation, what it says about the future of similar projects, and what regulatory changes might be needed at the federal level to make large-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) a reality. 

For many years now, the U.S. has been buying — and piping or railing in — virtually all of the crude oil Canada has been exporting, in part because Canadian producers have only very limited access to coastal ports. More recently, greater pipeline access from the Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) has created an attractive pathway — a “Carefree Highway,” if you will — for Canadian crude oil to be “re-exported” to overseas customers. This year, much stronger international demand has sent re-export volumes to record highs — and provided Alberta producers very attractive price differentials for their oil sands crude. That overseas demand appears to be sustainable, but with the looming startup of the 590-Mb/d Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX), which will increase the capacity of the Trans Mountain Pipeline system to 890 Mb/d and enable much more Alberta crude to be exported from docks in British Columbia, the re-export surge from the USGC may be in for a pullback, as we discuss in today’s RBN blog.

Crude oil quality has been a hot topic lately. With the increase in waterborne activity along the Gulf Coast, a high-quality barrel is desired now more than ever. Permian WTI exports have continued to increase as production rises and refining capacity remains relatively stagnant (outside of ExxonMobil’s recent Beaumont expansion). This has resulted in more scrutiny on Permian quality and more concerns rising to the surface — both from the pockets of lower-quality WTI produced at the wellhead and from blending by market participants, as many midstream providers and traders have become efficient at capturing arbitrage opportunities. Recent WTI quality concerns have primarily been around metal content, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and mercaptans, while nitrogen has become a major issue in the natural gas market. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the issue of mercaptans in WTI.

New U.S. LNG export projects battling rising labor and equipment costs and/or financing woes have one more thing to worry about that the first wave of projects didn’t: ensuring the feedgas supply will be there when they need it. Bottlenecks have already developed for moving natural gas volumes to the Louisiana coast, where the bulk of future export capacity will be sited. As more liquefaction capacity is built out and more export projects are greenlighted, a lot more pipeline capacity will be needed to move feedgas supply from the Haynesville and other supply basins into southern Louisiana and across the last mile to the terminals. In today’s RBN blog, we conclude our roundup of pipeline expansions in the Bayou State that would help ease transportation constraints and balance the market, this time with a look at announced-but-yet-to-be sanctioned greenfield pipeline expansions, along with an update on their associated export projects.

The U.S. won’t add new LNG export capacity this year for the first time since it became an exporter in 2016. But that lull is not going to last long. At least five facilities are under construction and due for completion in the next few years, several other expansions were recently sanctioned, and there are more final investment decisions (FIDs) on the way. With export development expected to accelerate in the coming years, the race to debottleneck feedgas pipeline routes is on. More natural gas pipeline capacity will be needed, particularly for moving gas supply to the Louisiana coast, where the bulk of new liquefaction will be sited. In today’s RBN blog, we resume our series on the pipeline expansions targeting LNG export demand, this time highlighting TC Energy’s Gillis Access Project and how it fits into the Louisiana LNG market picture.

Russia supplied significant volumes of crude oil and refined products to Europe for many years. Its primary crude oil export grade, medium-sour Urals (approximately 30 API and 1.7% sulfur), was a benchmark, both in quality and price, that European refiners long relied on to plan refinery processing configurations and that served as a signal for crude oil pricing dynamics in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean. In addition to crude oil, Russia was a large supplier of gasoil (diesel) as well as a more limited supplier of other refined products such as fuel oil (including intermediate feedstocks) and naphtha. In today’s RBN blog, we review the abrupt reduction in Russian crude oil movements to Europe following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago with an eye on the specific grades that have filled the gap.

Hardly a day goes by without news related to U.S. LNG export capacity expansions, whether it’s upstream supply deals, offtake agreements or liquefaction capacity announcements. One project is nearing commercialization, another five are under construction and due for completion in the next few years, still others are fully or almost-fully subscribed and will be officially sanctioned any day now, and the announcements keep coming. Just days ago, Venture Global reached a final investment decision (FID) for the second phase of its Plaquemines LNG project. With export development accelerating in the coming years, more natural gas pipeline capacity will be needed, particularly for moving gas supply to the Louisiana coast, where the bulk of the new capacity will be sited. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series highlighting the pipeline expansions targeting LNG export demand, this time focusing on projects moving gas to southeastern Louisiana, including those designed to deliver feedgas to Venture Global’s under-construction Plaquemines LNG project.

As U.S. LNG export project development accelerates in the coming years, a lot more natural gas pipeline capacity will be needed to supply the numerous liquefaction facilities vying for a piece of the global gas market pie. That’s particularly true for a small stretch of the Gulf Coast from the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border to the Calcasieu Pass Ship Channel — where the bulk of planned export capacity additions are concentrated — even as transportation bottlenecks are emerging for getting natural gas supply to the area. To address the growing demand, a number of pipeline expansions are planned or proposed to bring more supply into the region or deliver feedgas across the “last mile” to these multibillion-dollar facilities. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series highlighting some of these LNG-related pipeline projects, this time focusing on ones aiming to feed exports out of southwestern Louisiana.

LNG exports will be the biggest driver of demand growth for the Lower 48 natural gas market over the next five years. After a year of oversupply in 2023, export capacity additions will help to balance the market and support gas prices in 2024 as the glut spills over into next year. Beyond 2024, higher export volumes will lead to tighter balances and price spikes. As supply struggles to keep up with new export capacity, the timing of pipeline expansions will be critical for balancing the market. The bulk of new LNG export projects are sited along a small stretch of the Texas-Louisiana coastline and more pipeline capacity will be needed to move incremental feedgas into this area and across the “last mile” to the facilities. In today’s RBN blog, we begin a series delving into the planned pipeline expansions lining up to serve LNG demand along the Gulf Coast.

In a part of the world where enduring a cold winter is often seen as a badge of honor, the latest cold blast that descended on Canada just before Christmas — and during Christmas in the U.S. — was another one for the natural gas record books. By almost every measure, the recent frigid temperatures, though not long-lasting, set new Canadian records for daily demand, storage withdrawals, and net exports to the U.S., and went well beyond the records set during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021. In today’s RBN blog, we delve into the latest record-busting Canadian gas data.

Prior to the adoption of the assembly line, automotive production was slow and expensive, with Ford needing about 12 man hours of labor to do the final assembly for each new car. With Henry Ford’s installation of the first moving assembly line for mass production in December 1913, followed by additional refinements in future years, the average time dropped to about 90 minutes, with manufacturing costs also falling significantly. Those are the types of improvements in cost and efficiency the carbon-capture industry — which to date has been largely limited to smaller, individual projects — is anticipating as hub-style projects gain wider acceptance and begin to take shape. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the two basic concepts for carbon-capture hubs, the key advantages of the hub approach, and the complications inherent in that strategy.

There finally seems to be some momentum building for additional LNG export projects on Canada’s West Coast. Major pipeline and midstream operator Enbridge announced in late July that it was making an investment in Woodfibre LNG, a smaller-scale export project that has already come a long way in terms of approvals, pipeline connections, locking up gas supplies, and initial financing. With the Enbridge announcement — and the financial and technical clout the company brings to the table — it is now looking assured that the project will commence construction next year and be exporting LNG by 2027. In today’s blog, we take a detailed look at Woodfibre LNG.

Carbon-capture projects have begun to pick up steam in recent months, especially in the Midwest and Great Plains, with three major developments already taking shape and the potential for more. At the same time, the need to move natural gas east from the Rockies has declined over time and Tallgrass Energy Partners — a leading midstream player in that space — is looking for ways to make fuller use of its Rockies Express and Trailblazer gas pipelines. In today’s RBN blog, we look at an agreement between Tallgrass and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to capture and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from a corn-processing complex in Nebraska, how that deal relies on the planned conversion of the Trailblazer Pipeline from natural gas to CO2, thought to be the first of this scale, and why Tallgrass sees potential in carbon-capture projects across the region.

Carbon-capture projects have been slow to take root in the U.S., but that may be changing as a number of companies are now advancing plans to capture the carbon dioxide that results from ethanol production in the Midwest. Ethanol plants are an obvious choice, given that the CO2 resulting from ethanol fermentation is highly concentrated, which makes capturing it more efficient (and less expensive) compared to many other industrial processes. But while the relative ease and economy of capturing those emissions might seem like a no-brainer, convincing the public to go along with those plans has been more difficult. In today’s RBN blog, we look at what’s being planned.

Trans Mountain Pipeline, the only pipeline that connects crude oil production areas in Alberta to Canada’s West Coast and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, has started to resume operations after a three-week shutdown. The pipeline closure — the longest in TMP’s 68-year history — began November 14 after major flooding exposed portions of the 300-Mb/d conduit, which also carries some refined products. Fortunately, Trans Mountain did not suffer any severe damage, breaks, or spills, and its operators were able to initiate a phased restart on December 5 at reduced pressures. Full service is expected to be restored soon. So what happens when a primary source of crude oil to five refineries — four in Washington state and one in British Columbia — is removed from service with little notice? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the impacts.