Posts from Morgan Overman

For the past decade, producers in the Permian Basin have been the driving force in domestic production growth, but lately there has been a hard-to-miss slowdown in incremental production rates for crude, gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs). While Permian producers are primarily motivated by crude oil economics, those volumes also come with a lot of associated natural gas and NGLs. These commodities are therefore fundamentally interlinked. So if there’s a hangup with one, the effects will be felt across the upstream and then cascade downstream. There is a lot of money riding on these markets and the impacts of an extended slowdown in the Permian could be monumental, not just in the energy industry but also in the broader U.S. and global economies. In today’s RBN blog, we will examine what’s to blame for plateauing production in the U.S.’s most prolific basin and gauge what its big-picture implications might be. 

In North Dakota’s Bakken production region, crude oil is king. The light, sweet crude produced there is attractive to buyers in the Midwest and Gulf Coast and is the primary driver of producer economics in the basin. And when the crude is produced, it comes along with a healthy dose of NGL-rich associated natural gas. But while those are valuable products in their own right, providing economic uplift when sold, it’s a double-edged sword. Natural gas and NGL volumes are increasing rapidly and will soon test the limits of takeaway capacity, with the potential to disrupt not only those commodities but also the crude production with which they’re associated. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss three potential limitations faced by Bakken producers: natural gas pipeline capacity, NGL pipeline capacity and, at the fulcrum of those two, the Btu heat content of the gas being piped out of the basin.