Posts from Jason Lindquist

Thursday, 11/25/2021

These are troubled times, as the song says, caught between confusion and pain. Following the COVID trauma of 2020, oil, gas, and NGL markets are now coping with uncertainty of medium- and long-term prospects in light of energy transition rhetoric. Will we continue to see sufficient investment in the hydrocarbon-based supplies that the world needs today, or will resources be increasingly diverted toward renewable energy technologies and wider ESG goals? Finding a way to satisfy the global appetite and fuel continued recovery while planning for the future was a core theme for RBN’s Fall 2021 School of Energy: Hydrocarbon Markets in a Decarbonizing World. In today’s advertorial RBN blog, we lay out some key findings and highlights from this fall’s virtual conference.

Monday, 11/22/2021

The U.S. is poised for a massive build-out in renewable diesel production capacity — a boom spurred by capacity rationalization amongst traditional refineries, increasingly supportive government policies, and a big push by ESG-minded refiners wanting to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations. It also hasn’t hurt that while renewable diesel is produced from used cooking oil, tallow, and other renewable feedstocks, it meets or exceeds the fuel specifications of traditional ultra-low sulfur diesel and thus is considered a “drop-in” replacement for ULSD — there’s no “blend wall” that limits its use. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our new Drill Down report, which looks at why renewable diesel is a hot topic, what we can learn from California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standards program, and how much new renewable diesel capacity is in the works.

Thursday, 11/18/2021

Discussions about energy transition and increased electrification are all around us, whether they involve accelerating the ramp-up in renewable power sources such as wind and solar, facilitating the shift to electric vehicles, or switching to alternative fuels like hydrogen. But amid all the talk about the evolution to a low-carbon world — and away from oil and gas — there’s one area that is sometimes overlooked: petrochemicals. In the U.S., most steam crackers use natural gas liquids (NGLs) as their primary feedstocks, and they also consume a lot of energy — two big red flags in an increasingly ESG-focused world. And that’s giving bioethylene, billed as a green alternative to traditional ethylene, a moment in the spotlight. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how bioethylene is produced, how it differs from ethylene produced from traditional measures, and why it may someday evolve into an attractive alternative for the petrochemical industry, even though it’s far from a sure thing.

Wednesday, 11/17/2021

Energy marketeers are faced with a conundrum. Should the focus be on producing, processing, and marketing the hydrocarbon-based energy that the world needs today? Or is it time to go an entirely different direction toward net-zero emissions, renewables, and battery-powered everything? The answer, of course, is both. That means living, working, and producing hydrocarbon-based products in today's world while at the same time preparing for and investing in the world to which we’re headed. You might think of it as kind of a mild case of schizophrenia; we live in one reality, but we must think in terms of an entirely different future reality. That was a core theme for RBN’s Fall 2021 School of Energy: Hydrocarbon Markets in a Decarbonizing World. In today’s RBN advertorial blog, we provide our key findings and highlights from the conference curriculum.

Wednesday, 11/10/2021

Plato may have said it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and anyone who has engaged in a friendly debate about the best classic car, hunting rifle, or wristwatch knows it to be true: beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Of course, not everyone sees value the same way, or value in the same things. That’s at the heart of the dispute over the recently announced acquisition of Questar Pipeline LLC by Southwest Gas Holdings. The prospective buyer sees Questar as a picture-perfect addition, while an activist investor sees it as a butt-ugly mistake. In today’s RBN blog, we continue an examination of the Southwest Gas/Questar deal with a look at Questar’s relationship with its local distribution companies, potential competition with the nearby Kern River Pipeline, and challenges Questar may face in serving power generators and direct industrial load.

Monday, 11/08/2021

Admittedly, the idea of capturing carbon dioxide, cooling and compressing it into a weird, neither-liquid-nor-gas state, and pumping it deep underground for permanent storage would have baffled the crude oil wildcatters and pipeline builders that created the modern energy industry back in the 1940s and ’50s. They’d surely say, “You’re proposin’ to do what?!” But times have changed. The oil and gas business is entering an extraordinary era of transition, and producers, midstreamers, and refineries alike need to keep abreast of what’s happening regarding carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), how it will affect them, and — ideally — figure out ways to profit from it. That’s the impetus behind today’s RBN blog, in which we begin a deep dive into efforts to reduce emissions of man-made CO2 by capturing it from industrial sources and piping it to specially designed wells for permanent storage.

Wednesday, 10/27/2021

The recently announced acquisition of Questar Pipeline LLC by Southwest Gas has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Southwest sees it as a milestone moment that will allow it an increased role in the energy transition, but activist investor Carl Icahn sees it as a serious blunder that would make all previous management missteps pale in comparison. As Dave Mason sang in “We Just Disagree,” a dispute over value is at the heart of the matter, one which has led to a proxy fight, a tender offer for Southwest Gas, and a lot of harsh words. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at Questar’s natural gas pipelines and other assets, the roles they play in relation to the Rockies’ other pipelines, and how it all factors into Questar’s perceived value.

Thursday, 10/14/2021

Billionaire Warren Buffett tried to buy it but later bowed out. Billionaire Carl Icahn thinks buying it is a dumb idea — and has launched a tender offer and proxy fight to stop it. The long and winding road leading Southwest Gas Holdings to its planned $1.975 billion acquisition of Questar Pipeline from Dominion Energy started more than a year ago and touches on a number of hot-button topics in today’s energy industry: the divestiture of natural gas assets, the ongoing energy transition, concerns about antitrust regulations, activist investors, and infrastructure. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the sale itself, the current state of natural gas production and pipelines in the Rocky Mountains, and how that gas fits into the nationwide picture.