The new normal. Or at least the market’s perception of a new normal. That’s how we will remember 2017. Producers have come to terms with the possibility of crude prices in the $50-60/bbl range for a long time to come, and natural gas stuck around $3/MMBtu. But even in the face of this sober market outlook, crude oil production is near its all-time record. And Lower-48 natural gas blew past its historic maximum a few weeks back. Increasingly the biggest challenges facing the market are related to infrastructure –– where will all these hydrocarbons find a home. As we have over the past six years, RBN tracked these trends in 2017 as they played out, and now at the end of the year, it’s time to look back to see what topics generated the most interest from you, our readers. We monitor the hit rate for each of our blogs that go out to about 23,000 of our members each day, and the number of hits tells you a lot about what is going on in energy markets. So once again, we look into the rearview mirror to check out the top blogs of 2017, based on the number of rbnenergy.com website hits.
Not surprisingly, during the past year the hot topics have been (in priority order) Permian, Permian and Permian. Or more precisely, Permian crude oil, Permian natural gas and Permian NGLs. Sure, there are other U.S. energy markets that have come on strong, including Marcellus/Utica, SCOOP/STACK and Haynesville. But it was the Permian that attracted far more hits than any other topic, both because of huge volume growth and because of the implications for local prices and midstream infrastructure. And it is ultimately the Permian that has forced OPEC and NOPEC producers alike to give up market share to the U.S. More production growth from the Permian and other basins is on the way. Let’s see what the top blogs of 2017 can tell us about how these developments impacted the market, and what we might expect in the coming year.
Here are the top 10 blogs of 2017 (in reverse order, by number of hits):
#10 – 3/19/2017 – NGLs: Come On Down to My Boat - Market Implications of the Huge Surge in LPG Exports
Five years ago, the U.S. was a net importer of propane and butanes, those products collectively called LPG, or liquefied petroleum gasses. Today, the markets for these natural gas liquids are all about exports. During 2017, the U.S. exported almost 1 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of LPGs, with 92% of that total surging out of the Gulf Coast –– mostly propane, although exports of normal butane are growing too. In this blog, we showed the volumes flowing across each of the major dock facilities, and where in the world the barrels have been going. More often than not the answer is Asia.