Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted July 21, 2020
Through the recent COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shocks to energy markets around the world, U.S. natural gas has remained a relatively bright spot.
Record low prices have benefitted consumers, and at the same time many producers dedicated to natural gas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana and East Texas have remained viable as cutbacks in oil and associated natural gas from other regions have taken effect. And now about 90% of U.S. drilling for natural gas is concentrated in these regions, that is Appalachia and the Haynesville areas.
The drilling activity has reflected two fundamental observations. The first is that, according to BTU Analytics, the recent breakeven price – that is, the Henry Hub wholesale market price needed to at least break even in drilling a new well – on average has remained near market prices despite COVID-19, a relatively warm winter and broad financial market concerns. The second observation is that natural gas well productivity, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, were resilient after some unexplained variation at the beginning of the year.
Posted July 16, 2020
Although we have a long way to go for U.S. petroleum markets to recover to pre-pandemic levels, the comeback broadly continued in June as state economies re-opened despite ongoing challenges with COVID-19. This is seen in API’s Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) for July.
With the daily news flow about COVID-19 – from America Shuts Down Again to More Than Half of States Trending Poorly – it has been challenging for oil markets to discern what’s actually happening. The MSR provides the most timely and comprehensive snapshot of U.S. markets for crude oil and major refined products, based on weekly surveys of up to 90% of the industry.
Posted June 18, 2020
As the U.S. and world confront the unprecedented combination of a public health crisis, significant economic downturn and tumultuous domestic and global oil markets, we have seen oil demand, prices, and consequently drilling and production fall by historic amounts.
Overall, we see market forces at work, with a re-balancing of supply and demand to historic proportions despite great uncertainties. The underlying fundamentals appear to be constructive and should position the U.S. natural gas and oil industry to participate in an economic recovery. And if the third-party consensus is correct the next year or so could bring positives for U.S. and global energy.
Posted May 21, 2020
After crude oil futures prices plunged into negative territory for a day last month, there was a good deal of speculation that the same thing could happen this month. Some even pointed to the April futures meltdown as a “doomsday” scenario for U.S. natural gas and oil.
Well, a number of things happened on the way to oil’s “doomsday.”
At the outset, let’s note that what happened with futures in April didn’t repeat this month. Oil futures prices for June delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude, whose contracts expired Tuesday, closed at $32.50 per barrel – about 300% higher than they did for those contracts a month ago. Let’s explore why.
Posted May 14, 2020
API’s latest Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) has positive news; it just takes a close look to find it.
One example: Weekly petroleum demand data (MSR and U.S. Energy Information Administration), as measured by total domestic petroleum deliveries, indicates that the worst impacts on our industry from COVID-19 and measures to contain it may be behind us, occurring in mid-April.
We won’t know for sure until we see data for May in next month’s MSR. But EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR), shows that demand rebounded by 3.0 million barrels per day (mb/d) as of May 8, from the low point in the week of April 10 (lowest demand for April since 1970). With more than 30 states in various stages of re-opening, demand could be expected to increase along with rising economic activity.
Posted April 16, 2020
Amid talk in Texas of production quotas (“proration”) and other extreme policies that have been suggested to address the oil demand downturn, API’s Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) shows that supply is responding in real time and that U.S. crude and refined storage capacities have some flexibility to adjust to the COVID-19 driven demand decrease – helping to alleviate the need for blanket policies or government interventions.
Notably, recent federal actions may help provide additional flexibility to the entire energy value chain. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy’s opening of crude oil storage capacity within the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to individual companies provides much-needed flexibility. Separately, Federal Reserve measures to either purchase corporate bonds or provide loans may perform additional triage for the energy industry and across the broader economy.
Posted March 26, 2020
Supply networks for refined products – including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel – appear to be responding properly and flexibly to sudden and sharp declines for transportation fuel stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) and global efforts to slow its spread.
Market conditions can shift, yet API’s view at this point is that most refined products markets have continued to function well in keeping about a month’s worth of storage.
We gauge this in part by comparing recent inventory levels for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel with their ranges over the past five years. Although some products appear to have more available storage capacity than others, if needed, it also is apparent that the pace at which refiners produce fuels can provide additional adjustments which will affect demand for storage.
Posted March 19, 2020
As much as any other sector, global energy has felt the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) combined with lowering world demand and Russia and Saudi Arabia raising oil supply. We’ve seen crude oil prices cut in half within three months, which if sustained could rank among the most severe oil price downturns on record. Let’s discuss the most significant points for U.S. consumers, industry and the broader economy.
Details may be found in API’s latest Monthly Statistical Report, based on February U.S. petroleum data. Using weekly surveys of 90% of the natural gas and oil industry, we publish monthly data and analysis two months ahead of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Posted March 12, 2020
Global oil markets have shifted dramatically in recent days and weeks, and the stakes are high for the United States energy revolution, retirement savings and the broader economy.
Let’s start with crude oil prices. Per Bloomberg, the per-barrel price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) on March 9 was about half of what it was on Dec. 31, falling to $31.13 from $61.06.
Posted March 11, 2020
Several states are taking the lead to promote electric vehicles (EVs), and they’re not the states that produce them. From California and Oregon to New Jersey and Maryland, their promotions are mainly efforts intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
But even with large state incentives, are consumers onboard?