Posts from Lindsay Schneider

Natural gas prices at the Waha Hub in West Texas have been below zero for going on two weeks — that’s outright negative cash prices, not basis, which means Permian producers are literally paying to have their gas taken away. Ample supply along with weak demand have prompted an early start to the injection season this year and are putting downward pressure on U.S. gas prices more broadly. But why all the craziness now? One of the best ways to get a handle on the Permian gas-market meshugah is to examine gas pipeline flows within the basin and without, which, as it turns out, is the focus of our upcoming School of Energy Master Class. Today's RBN blog is a blatant advertorial for that event where we’ll be discussing gas-flow analysis, pipeline modeling and how they help explain why Waha gas prices have gone sub-zero. 

LNG feedgas demand has averaged a record of about 12 Bcf/d this summer and fall. While that may sound like an impressive number (and it is), it could increase significantly — even without new capacity additions — over the next few months as seasonal demand rises and maintenance activity slows. And that’s just for starters. Next year, the first of several planned LNG export terminals and expansions of existing ones will start commissioning, and by the end of this decade feedgas demand may well double. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how current LNG feedgas demand stacks up compared to past years, the factors driving current demand, and the potential for additional upside.

Venture Global reached a final investment decision (FID) on Plaquemines LNG Phase 1 in March 2022, making it the first new LNG project to get the green light post-COVID and kicking off a massive expansion period for U.S. LNG. In fact, more than 61 million tons per annum (MMtpa) of new U.S. LNG capacity has been given the go-ahead in the past 17 months, including the full 20-MMtpa Plaquemines LNG project from Venture Global, plus projects from Cheniere, Sempra and, most recently, NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG. Even if no new LNG projects are sanctioned after this — which seems unlikely, given the progress seen on some pre-FID projects — the U.S. will have the capacity to export 167.5 MMtpa, or more than 22 Bcf/d, by later this decade. This unprecedented level of buildout continues to be dominated by our “Big Three” of U.S. LNG — Cheniere, Sempra and Venture Global — which not only already operate LNG export terminals in the U.S. and have projects currently under construction, but all still have more capacity under development and working toward eventual FIDs. In today’s RBN blog, we wrap up our series with a look at the newest member of the Big Three, Venture Global, its projects under development and the controversy surrounding the commissioning of Calcasieu Pass LNG.

U.S. LNG development has seen a resurgence in the post-COVID world, with five projects with a combined 61.1 MMtpa (8.1 Bcf/d) of new LNG export capacity reaching a final investment decision (FID) in the past 18 months and one additional project closing in on that milestone. Five of these six projects are from the “Big Three” of U.S. LNG — Cheniere, Sempra and Venture Global — leading some to wonder if there’s room for anyone else. But while all three companies are big in U.S. LNG and have projects under development, only one is a behemoth. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our look at the pre-FID projects under development by the Big Three, focusing on the king of U.S. LNG, Cheniere.

Three new LNG export projects have reached a final investment decision (FID) in the past year or so — Venture Global’s Plaquemines LNG, Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Stage III expansion, and, most recently, Sempra’s Port Arthur LNG. What do these projects have in common? They are all being developed by companies that are already exporting North American LNG. These companies are arguably the “Big Three” of U.S. LNG, with Cheniere the reigning king, at least for now. Not only do they all have at least one operating terminal and at least one under construction, but all three have multiple pre-FID projects under development, including some that are decently close to FID. With their proven track records and deep balance sheets, being one of the big guys is a definite advantage when it comes to getting a project across the finish line. With a total of 43.5 MMtpa (5.8 Bcf/d) of capacity currently under construction and more than 100 MMtpa (13.4 Bcf/d) under development by these three, is there even room for anybody else? In today’s blog, we look at the pre-FID projects under development by the Big Three, starting with Sempra.

The incredible growth in U.S. LNG export capacity over the past few years has been facilitated by a mostly predictable federal permitting process. It may sometimes be slower than developers like and leave them more open to pushback at the state and local level, but LNG export projects that enter the federal permitting process with both the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are generally granted their authorizations and export licenses. And once they have them, they’ve been able to hold onto them — until now. Both FERC and the DOE had been granting extensions to these permits as their authorization windows were closing, meaning that projects that were authorized a decade ago and still not online have retained their authorizations and export licenses. But with a DOE rule change announced April 21, the era of repeatedly renewing authorizations appears to be over. The DOE is sending a clear message to LNG developers: Get your project across the finish line in a timely manner or get out of the way and make space for someone who can. In today’s RBN blog, we take a closer look at the DOE rule change and its impact on LNG projects currently under development.

With the war in Ukraine ongoing and Europe largely cut off or quitting Russian natural gas imports, many feared that global gas prices would skyrocket this winter, but prices have fizzled out instead and are at their lowest level since September 2021. That’s not to say gas prices are low, as they are still well above historic norms and high enough to incentivize LNG imports and the development of future LNG capacity. But despite losing its largest gas supplier, and prices running up in the months ahead of this winter, Europe appears to be in much better shape than it was last winter and gas prices have been relatively calm and on the downswing. So why is that? The difference between this winter and last largely boils down to storage inventories and the ability to attract LNG cargoes. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the European gas market, the impact of U.S. LNG supplies, and what it all means for developing LNG projects.

This year there’s been unprecedented forward momentum for LNG development. Since 2022 began, two U.S. projects have reached a final investment decision (FID), with a third expected to reach that milestone in early 2023. Offtakers have committed to 38 metric tons per annum (MMtpa), or 4.9 Bcf/d, of long-term LNG contracts from these and other proposed terminals this year and there’s another handful of U.S. projects with a realistic shot at FID in the next year or so, not to mention others in Mexico and Canada. Progress on the LNG front has been dominated by three companies: Cheniere, Sempra and Venture Global. While there are other projects inching closer to FID, those from the proven LNG developers — our “three kings” — have leapfrogged to the front of the line. In today’s RBN blog, we look at what those three have under development and what it means for everyone else trying to build LNG export capacity.

Thanks to a warm start to the season and low Asian demand for LNG, Europe has so far been able to stave off a worst-case scenario for natural gas supply this winter. Still, the European market is keeping a keen eye on the years ahead, when the continent will need to rely on new sources of LNG to meet demand and refill inventories with little chance of any Russian gas. The call for more LNG has ushered in a new wave of export-project development, with two U.S. projects reaching a positive final investment decision (FID) this year and LNG offtakers in Europe and elsewhere committing to an incredible 37 MMtpa (4.9 Bcf/d) of long-term contracts from pre-FID sites in North America. This momentum has revived a number of projects from the COVID-induced wasteland, including Sempra’s Port Arthur LNG. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series on U.S. LNG projects by taking a closer look at Port Arthur, the one most likely to take FID next.

The need for more LNG export capacity, driven both by Europe’s push to wean itself off Russian gas and long-term Asian demand growth, is resulting in a new wave of development. Two major U.S. projects have reached a positive final investment decision (FID) in the past six months and more are likely to do so soon, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. But conventional export terminals take time to build, leading at least some, like New Fortress Energy, to explore the potential for floating LNG (FLNG) facilities — basically, an LNG export terminal located on the topside of a large tanker — which can bring new capacity online faster, much like the floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) that are now boosting European import capacity. In today’s RBN blog, we take a look at FLNGs, what’s already out there, and what could be coming to North America in the next few years.

Without a doubt, the two biggest changes to U.S. natural gas markets in the last 15 years have been the Shale Revolution and the development of LNG exports. These completely upended the way gas flowed in this country, with the Northeast now home to the largest gas-producing basin and the Gulf Coast — including its fleet of LNG export terminals — now the U.S.’s largest demand center. Production growth in the Marcellus/Utica has stalled, however, largely due to the regulatory and legal challenges associated with building new pipeline takeaway capacity. One possible fix would be a new East Coast LNG terminal, which in addition to having easy access to cheap, almost-local gas would also be close to gas-hungry European markets. But just how likely is such a project? In today’s RBN blog, we discuss the advantages and hurdles of developing LNG export capacity on the East Coast.

Total U.S. LNG export capacity is around 12 Bcf/d, including the still-commissioning-but-nearly-complete Calcasieu Pass. About 13.5 Bcf/d of U.S. natural gas supplies, or feedgas, is required to produce that much LNG, but feedgas demand has averaged just 10.5 Bcf/d over the past week despite still-soaring global gas prices and an undersupplied global LNG market. Two U.S. terminals are currently offline: Freeport LNG, which has been out of service since an explosion and fire in June, and now Cove Point LNG, which shut for annual maintenance October 1. Beyond those outages, which have taken about 2.75 Bcf/d of demand out of commission, LNG feedgas volumes have been extremely volatile, swinging as much as 2 Bcf/d within a week. Don’t expect this to last, however — with winter approaching, the return of both Freeport and Cove Point on the horizon, and the full startup of Calcasieu Pass in sight, feedgas demand will likely rise to new heights and soon consistently top 13 Bcf/d. In today’s RBN blog we take a closer look at the recent volatility in LNG feedgas and the potential demand coming this winter.

The world needs more LNG and the U.S. is answering that call. Two U.S. liquefaction projects, Venture Global’s Plaquemines LNG and Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Stage III, have already reached a final investment decision (FID) on a combined 23.3 MMtpa (3.1 Bcf/d) of export capacity, which will be online by mid-decade. But by the looks of it, we are just getting started. Next up could be NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG, which has sold 75% of its first two trains’ capacity — enough to take FID, possibly by the end of the year. If it moves forward, not only will the project add another 10.8 MMtpa (1.43 Bcf/d) or more of export capacity to the Gulf Coast, it could also come with a new carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) facility, which has long been a selling point for the project. In today’s RBN blog, we continue our series on the U.S. LNG projects most likely to move forward, this time with a look at Rio Grande LNG.

It’s been another tumultuous few months for natural gas prices, particularly amid what European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called Russia’s war on Europe’s energy and economy.  Europe is staring down aggressive curtailments of Russian gas supplies and rising consumer utility bills, necessitating austerity measures and beyond to bail out consumers and utilities and prevent a dangerous shortfall this winter. Prices in continental Europe have now topped $20/MMBtu for a year, higher than the previous single-day record. On top of the elevated prices, outrageous spikes higher and lower have become a semi-regular occurrence as the gas market struggles to find balance. And high prices and volatility are not going anywhere anytime soon as Europe braces for a winter with little or even no Russian gas. In today’s RBN blog we look at European gas prices, the latest energy policy proposal from the EC and how U.S. LNG exports fit into the ongoing crisis.

The momentum for U.S. LNG right now is powerful. With Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian natural gas boosting long-term LNG demand and Asian consumption expected to grow even further, there has been a strong push for new LNG projects in North America. So far, that has helped propel two U.S. projects, Venture Global’s Plaquemines LNG and Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Stage III, to reach a final investment decision (FID). With these two projects getting a green light, total export capacity in the U.S. will be at least 130 MMtpa — or 17.3 Bcf/d — by mid-decade. That top-line export capacity could be much higher, however. There are currently eight U.S. Gulf Coast pre-FID projects with binding sales agreements, and a handful of projects that are fully subscribed in credible non-binding deals. If all those projects go forward, it would add a staggering 86 MMtpa (11.4 Bcf/d) of export capacity to the U.S., pushing the total toward 30 Bcf/d, or 225 MMtpa. In today’s RBN blog we look at U.S. LNG under development, how high export capacity could go, and the implications for the U.S. natural gas market.