Posts from Kristen Hays

Back in the early 2010s, U.S. crude oil and NGL exports were minimal and LNG exports were non-existent, but there were omens that the U.S. would soon regain its status as an energy production juggernaut. Now the U.S. is a critically important global supplier of oil, gas and NGLs, with exports crucial to managing supply and demand as infrastructure rushes to keep up and industry players simultaneously explore alternative energy possibilities. How all these moving parts interconnect was the focus of RBN’s 18th School of Energy last week and it’s the subject of today’s RBN blog, which — fair warning! — is a blatant advertorial for School of Energy Encore, our newly available online version of the recent, action-packed conference. 

Fast-rising NGL supplies during the early years of the Shale Era fueled excitement about the potential for new petrochemical plants in the U.S., especially ethane-only crackers to make ethylene and other byproducts, along with propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants to make propylene. While 11 new ethane-fed crackers have come online in the U.S. since the mid-2010s and the world’s largest — Chevron Phillips Chemical and QatarEnergy’s 4.8-billion-lb/year facility — is under construction in Texas, only three of the many PDH projects proposed over the same period were actually built. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at why the initial rush of new PDH project announcements resulted in so few new U.S. plants. 

Energy Transfer’s plan to buy WTG Midstream, a West Texas-based and private equity-backed natural gas gatherer and processor, just got a bit less expensive — and not quite so comprehensive. Energy Transfer will still acquire WTG’s network of more than 6,000 miles of gas pipelines, eight processing plants and more, but WTG’s 20% stake in the joint-venture (JV) BANGL pipeline system is no longer part of the deal. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll take a look at the detour from the original transaction. 

Energy Transfer is yet again slaking its acquisition appetite by gobbling up another natural gas gatherer and processor to further expand its already formidable Permian footprint. The company announced May 28 that it has struck a $3.25 billion cash-and-stock deal to buy WTG Midstream, a West Texas-based and private equity-backed operator whose Permian assets will boost the acquiring company’s access to gas and NGL volumes as the U.S. midstream sector shows continued consolidation. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at how the addition of WTG’s midstream holdings will enhance Energy Transfer’s asset lineup, including its ongoing NGL export and storage expansions. 

For years, the South Texas NGL market was a world of its own — a self-contained liquids ecosystem centered around the refineries and petrochemical plants in the Corpus Christi area. But that all changed about six years ago when EPIC Midstream built a new NGL pipeline from the Permian into Corpus and a new fractionator to process those liquids. Corpus morphed into a vibrant NGL market in its own right. But nothing with South Texas NGLs is easy. Before the EPIC system was even up and running, a consortium calling itself BANGL — short for Belvieu Alternative NGL — announced another pipeline to compete for Permian NGLs that would parallel EPIC’s route out of the Permian, but then make a hard left toward Sweeny and Texas City, setting up a battle of the pipes for Permian NGLs. 

The new 650-Mb/d Dangote refinery in Nigeria instantly became Africa’s largest and the world’s seventh-largest by capacity when it finally began processing crude into diesel and aviation fuels in January after years of delays and cost overruns. Long touted as Nigeria’s ticket to ending refined fuels imports by supplying its own markets — with plenty to spare for exports — the Dangote facility could substantially impact trade flows and global supply if it lives up to years of homegrown ballyhoo. In today’s RBN blog, we will examine Dangote’s long road to production, and why we see a slow ramp-up to full capacity through 2026. 

One of the most anticipated and potentially impactful refinery startups in North America in years is the Dos Bocas project (officially the Olmeca Refinery), a 340 Mb/d plant under development by Mexico’s state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in the southeastern state of Tabasco. The project was seen as the cornerstone of Pemex’s plans to reduce Mexico’s dependence on the U.S. for refined fuels. Construction began in 2019 with startup originally scheduled for 2022, but that timeline was never really feasible, and the Mexican government has issued multiple public statements since mid-2023 proclaiming that construction was complete and startup was imminent. However, almost a year has passed and there is no indication that any meaningful operations have occurred. So how close is Dos Bocas to startup and, more importantly, full (or close to full) production? In today’s RBN blog, we’ll provide our views on those vitally important questions. 

It’s been nine years since Formosa Petrochemical filed its first permit applications for a proposed $9.4 billion petrochemical complex in Louisiana and, while the greenfield project has faced legal setbacks, it recently posted an important win and may — emphasis on may — eventually make it across the finish line. The Sunshine Project would be massive and consequential, with two steam crackers each capable of consuming 75 Mb/d of ethane, a big propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and a number of other petchem production facilities that together would employ more than 1,200. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at the project and its long and winding road toward potential construction and startup.