Archive for the ‘natural gas’ Category

The hearty, hardy gas production of the US

It seems like only yesterday that big winter storms or other extreme weather events could curtail or shut natural gas production in the US. A winter storm and freezing temperatures in the Northeast or in the Southeast would prompt freeze-offs or shut-ins along pipelines. But perhaps no longer.

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Australian oil and gas producers tighten belts

Just as their bigger international counterparts have moved quickly and decisively to cut capital expenditure by around 25% in the wake of the recent rout in oil prices, Australia’s oil and gas players have also been tightening their belts and reassessing asset values.

Amid moves that have left some analysts mildly surprised at the speed of the global industry’s reaction to the current downturn, the major Australian players have hit the pause button on spending.

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Gazprom and Europe: the end of the road

Relations between Gazprom and the European Commission have sunk to an all-time low over the past year as Ukraine breaks up and the civilian and military death toll in the east rises.

Gazprom is too closely related to the government – and the president Vladimir Putin in particular – for it to be seen as a gas production, transport and supply company just like any other. Gazprom inevitably takes some of the heat for the activities in the Kremlin.

The EC has already imposed sanctions on Russian companies. But if an outright ban on Russian gas is too damaging for its own end-users, the EC can also employ other means – directives, anti-trust probes, exemption clauses and all the other weapons in its armoury – to limit Russia’s ability to profit from Europe.

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UK energy reform is not just about price cuts

The UK’s “big six” energy retailers have started to lower their gas prices, undercutting the opposition Labour party’s promise to freeze household energy bills if the party comes to power in the May 2015 general election. But the party’s plans go further than just its headline tariff freeze.

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Egypt’s Sisi outlines national energy policy at World Future Energy Summit

Egypt has set development and reform of its energy sector as a key priority as it seeks to rebuild its economy following the country’s second revolution in the past few years, the country’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, said January 19 during his first official visit to the UAE in that role.

During his keynote address to the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Sisi also said he considered the security of the Persian Gulf region to be “part and parcel of Egyptian security.” The annual Abu Dhabi WFES gathering, while primarily a UAE forum for promoting and discussing regional and international renewable energy development, has also developed a significant political agenda.

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The crude price plunge and LNG, a tenuous link

Over the last several months there has been much discussion about the impact of falling crude oil prices on the liquefied natural gas market. The conventional argument goes something like this: lower crude prices are making oil-linked LNG contracts cheaper and are putting pressure on the spot market as these contracts increasingly undercut spot prices.

At first glance, this argument appears quite compelling. On January 14, 2015, the price of Platts-assessed Dated Brent was $45.73/b. For buyers using 14.5% slope to crude, not uncommon in the Asia-Pacific market, that would equate to an LNG price of just $6.63/MMBtu. By comparison, the Platts JKM price (a spot index for the Asian LNG market) was assessed significantly higher at $9.38/MMBtu on the same day.

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UK warns utilities to pass on falling fuel costs

The UK’s finance minister, George Osborne, has reacted to plunging crude oil prices by warning energy companies to make sure they pass on to customers any reduction in their own fuel costs. With just four months to go till the country’s May 7 general election, politicians are likely to keep up the pressure on utilities. But how far have UK gas prices fallen?

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Some advice to those developing the Marcellus, from somebody who knows

Rodney White is wrapping up a lengthy career with Platts today, and he has watched up close the battles over developing the Marcellus and Utica shales, among other areas. Not only that, he lives in West Virginia, home to part of the Marcellus. Here are some of his departing thoughts for The Barrel.

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Vitol’s CEO sees up-and-down oil prices, but it isn’t an opportunity

The kind of crazy up-and-down movements of the oil markets in recent weeks and months is not a ripe opportunity for a major trading company like Vitol. In fact, its CEO and chairman Ian Taylor says that whipsaw activity is a nightmare for his company.

“A market that is up $3 in the morning, down at lunchtime and then back up again at the close is almost impossible to hedge,” Taylor said in a one-on-one interview this week as part of the Platts Global Energy Forum. “I don’t think the trading companies do particularly well in that environment.” (Full disclosure: I conducted the interview with Taylor at the forum’s luncheon.)

And contrary to some beliefs, a relatively calm market that goes on many months — like the first part of 2014 — isn’t quite as bad as it might seem. “You’re making an assumption that traders speculate,” Taylor said when asked whether the first relatively non-volatile part of the year was a difficult time for a trading company. “Hardly any trading companies in existence today speculate. Shell, BP, Vitol…we don’t do flat price trading. A predictable long-term trend is much easier to handle.”

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How lower crude oil could impact UK energy plans

The dramatic fall in crude oil prices in the second half of this year runs against the recent assumptions of the UK’s energy policy-makers. A policy of support for new nuclear power generation and offshore wind has been based not only on the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but also on the argument that fossil fuel prices are set to run ever-higher.

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