New Frontiers: Cutting back natural gas flaring in North Dakota hits a bump

North Dakota has aggressively sought to cut the amount of natural gas flaring going on in the state. It’s made strides, but it has a new hurdle, as Brian Scheid discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers.

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The 10% ethanol blendwall is once again looming

Don’t look now, but the ethanol blend wall is back.

That 10% cap of how much ethanol can be blended into the US gasoline pool was a fiery issue in the Big Oil vs. Big Farm battle in 2013.

And believe it or not, the number has quietly but quickly crept back up into dangerous territory.

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Another big petrochemical project in the US might hit some supply constraints

With the announcement of yet another new cracker project this week — this time, to be built in North Dakota — the US petrochemical industry could be reaching a tipping point in the shale gas revolution.

It’s hard to imagine a time when the US could run out of ethane, particularly in the current environment where ethane rejection is expected to climb as high as 450,000 b/d during the next two years. But the announcement Monday that Badlands NGL’s LLC is planning to produce 1.5 million metric tons of polyethylene per year in North Dakota could cause the country to have an ethane deficit by 2021.

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EIA analysis: big build in crude oil stocks

A sagging crude oil market got another big hit of bearish news today with the weekly EIA statistics showing a big build in crude stocks. You can read our analysis here. 

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Ed Morse and his team on the oil price slide

A few snippets from a conference call Ed Morse and his team at Citi held today on the decline in oil prices.

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When it comes to defining LNG in cars, patience is a virtue

When pushing for greater use of natural gas vehicles, advocates know patience is a virtue. A lot of patience.

One recent tangle, a regular Gordian knot, has been the question of how LNG used as a transportation fuel should be measured and taxed. Should it be by weight, like kilograms, or volume, such as diesel and gasoline gallon equivalents (DGE or GGE).

This is no small picky detail that excites policy wonks. It matters a great deal to current and future LNG vehicle owners and state tax collectors.

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Do problems loom for much ballyhooed US natural gas midstream?

The midstream segment of the US natural gas business — pipelines, processing and storage — is where investment is targeted based on the assumption that a lot of new shale gas will be produced and consumed over the next couple of decades.

What some are wondering and worrying about, though, is whether the future price of natural gas will hold up and not wreck the credit of those making the infrastructure investments.

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North American crude exports: foreshadowing the future or blip on the radar?

Three North American crude exports — two from Canada and one from Alaska — captured headlines the last few weeks because of their unusual departure and arrival points.

Phillips 66 exported a cargo of Alaska North Slope crude to South Korea on September 26, the first time the grade had been exported since 2004. Sources indicated the shipment was a one-off and that the tanker was likely headed for dry dock to undergo maintenance.

However, the ever-growing rise in cheaper Bakken crude has displaced other grades on the West Coast, and a very narrow Brent/WTI spread has made Brent-based imports from Latin America and the Middle East much more profitable than WTI-based crudes like ANS.

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More oil demand gloom from the IEA weighs on world’s producers

With crude prices at near four-year lows, the last thing the world’s key oil producers want to hear is that demand growth is set to weaken yet further.

But that was the message from the International Energy Agency in its latest monthly oil market report published today.

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A veteran economist looks at oil price collapses of yore, and sees parallels to today

Phil Verleger has a long memory.

Phil is a veteran energy economist, and he and I have been emailing each other over the course of the last week, recalling the oil price collapse of the mid 1980’s. As he noted, there are a dwindling number of of people still in the industry who remember that. But I had just joined Platts when the great collapse of 1985-1986 took place. On April 1, 1986, WTI plunged to less than $10 and no, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. (It remains the only day in the history of the WTI contract, launched in 1983, that the price ever “printed” a number less than double digits. It has never settled at less than $10.)

In his latest weekly report, Phil recalls that fall, as well as the collapse of 1998-1999. While WTI prices didn’t drop below the $10 level in the late 90’s, the levels of that period, after adjusting for inflation, were the lowest in history.

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