U.S. LNG export capacity has increased 40% in the last seven months, from 4.3 Bcf/d in April to about 6 Bcf/d now, and feedgas demand at the terminals already exceeds that, with more than 7 Bcf/d flowing to the facilities in recent weeks. With each new liquefaction train coming online, feedgas deliveries to export terminals have steadily climbed, and, for the most part, have sustained at rates that suggest consistently high utilization of the facilities’ capacity, particularly once they begin commercial operations and regardless of international market dynamics. And, that demand is expected to increase further as more liquefaction capacity comes online in 2020 and beyond. The emergence of this seemingly inelastic demand with a baseload-like pull on domestic gas supplies marks an underlying shift in the U.S. gas market that, along with the rising baseload demand from power generation, will make national benchmark Henry Hub prices more prone to spikes. Today, we explain how ever-increasing LNG exports will reshape the U.S. demand profile and, in turn, Henry price trends.
U.S. natural gas prices are increasingly susceptible to periodic spikes and volatility as baseload demand for gas — or the minimum level of demand that must be met on a daily basis — specifically from power generators and liquefaction plants, has rapidly climbed in recent years, and is still rising. The power sector has upped the ante on its gas consumption, with gas replacing coal as the most cost-effective go-to fuel for meeting baseload electricity demand. On top of that, feedgas deliveries to LNG export terminals have added 7 Bcf/d of demand to the gas market in the past three years, much of which is flowing at high, baseload-like rates, and that demand is set to increase further as more liquefaction projects are completed. These two market components together — LNG exports and gas-fired power generation — will take a bigger slice of domestic gas supplies, making the gas market ever more sensitive to weather, maintenance and other factors that disrupt that baseload level of demand or the supplies that serve it. We’ve already begun to see the effects of this phenomenon on Henry Hub and other regional gas prices. Today, we delve into this fundamental shift and what it could mean for the gas market.
It’s said that everything is bigger and better in Texas, and when it comes to the magnitude of negative natural gas prices, the Lone Star State recently captured the crown by a wide margin. By now, you’ve probably heard that Permian spot gas prices plumbed new depths in the past couple of weeks, falling as low as $9/MMBtu below zero in intraday trading and easily setting the record for the “biggest” negative absolute price ever recorded in U.S. gas markets. Certainly, that was bad news for many of the Permian producers selling gas into the day-ahead market. But every market has its losers and winners, and negative prices were likely “better” — dare we say much better — for those buying gas in the Permian. Today, we look at some of the players that are benefitting from negative Permian natural gas prices.
Early in 2012, soon after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, two California nuclear power plants called SONGS 2 and SONGS 3 (stands for San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) shut down for the foreseeable future. This pulled roughly 2,200 MW of base load generation out of the Southern California supply stack. The California System Operator (CAISO) scrambled for several weeks to bring replacement power into the system, and succeeded admirably. The grid held together and weathered last year’s hot summer. Now as the summer of 2013 starts to come into focus, there are lots of questions about the SONGS units –which are still off line – and what California’s overall power generation load will mean for natural gas demand and prices. Today we survey the measures that made things work last year and examine the most likely market developments expected for Summer 2013.
On January 1st, 2013, California’s cap-and-trade program for Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) went live and West Coast energy markets entered a whole new world. Wholesale electricity prices in California increased 20% as a result and other energy markets have felt the impact. For example, the new rules pushed up the average cost of refining oil by $0.78/bbl. For companies subject to the regulations, the bottom line is that if you generate GHG, you pay. But exactly who pays, how much you pay, and when you pay are all subject to a dizzying array of rules and regulations. Today we’ll navigate the turbulent and uncharted seas of California cap-and-trade markets.
Today the Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes weekly US natural gas storage numbers for the week ending July 6, 2012. Last week EIA reported 39 Bcf injections making the total storage 3,102 Bcf. The natural gas stockpile is now 602 Bcf higher than this time last year but the rate of storage injection has slowed as a result of increased demand for natural gas burn by power generators. In today’s blog we look at the supply demand picture to see what is driving higher natural gas burn by power generators and the implications for storage.
On this President’s Day holiday I have included links to five articles from the last 72 hours, all of which are timely and relevant to today’s energy markets. They range from a sobering assessment of coal oversupply by Bloomberg, a recap of Mitsubishi’s acquisition of Encana’s shale assets, the impact of the drilling slowdown in Luzerne County, PA (in the dry gas region of Pennsylvania), and just for fun, a recap of Range Resources latest victory in its suit-counter-suit over the burning wat