The Coming Price Meltdown for Marcellus/Utica Gas This Fall

The price of natural gas and what it fetches (by geography) is always a top concern for both drillers and landowners. Recently the price of natgas nationwide has been trading at a 25-year low (see U.S. Natural Gas Price Hits 25-Year Low, Storage Nearly Full). The price natgas will fetch for Marcellus/Utica drillers is possibly heading, according to the experts at RBN Energy, for a “meltdown” this fall. We don’t like the sound of that…
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EIA: Gas Price Avg <$2 in 2020, 110 LNG Export Cargoes Canceled

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), issued its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) yesterday. We’re interested mainly in the natural gas numbers. The expert number crunchers at EIA predict the price of Henry Hub traded gas will average $1.93 for all of 2020 (although EIA predicts the price will rise in Q420 to $2.46). The report also says U.S. LNG exports are taking a nosedive this summer. From June through August at least 110 LNG cargoes have been canceled–meaning a decrease in 75% of our LNG exports. That will have a big impact on gas drillers.
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U.S. Natural Gas Price Hits 25-Year Low, Storage Nearly Full

Reuters is reporting natural gas prices “collapsed” over 7% and hit a “near 25-year low” yesterday. The article says demand destruction from the coronavirus and worldwide shutdowns, along with an excess supply in storage caverns which are “expected to be full by the end of the summer season,” is the reason. Gas in storage is currently 18% above the 5-year average. The July futures NYMEX natural gas price contract, which expires today, was down -9.5% yesterday to $1.44/MMBtu. The August contract closed down -7.9% to $1.53/MMBtu.
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Why is NatGas Price Stubbornly Low Even with Less Oil Production?

The received wisdom has been that with the oil markets getting whacked by the Saudis, the Russians, and the virus, and with new drilling scaled back and oil wells in the Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford and other oil plays being shut-in, far less “associated gas” would be produced, leading to tighter natgas supplies further leading to higher prices for natgas (benefitting the Marcellus/Utica). But the price of natgas has remained at a 25-year low. What the heck is going on?
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Cash NatGas Price at Henry Hub Hits 21-Year Low – Blame LNG

Yesterday physical natural gas delivered at the Henry Hub trading point hit its lowest cash price in 21 years–since December 1998. Cash Henry Hub settled at $1.38/MMBtu (million BTUs, the equivalent of Mcf or thousand cubic feet). The Columbia Gulf mainline trading hub (in Louisiana) plunged to $1.285/MMBtu. Right here in the Marcellus, the Transco Zone 4 price fell to $1.36/MMBtu. They all hit their lowest settlement levels since 1998. Why? Blame it on LNG.
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M-U Shut-ins Help Keep Regional Gas Prices Stable…for Now

With EQT shutting in one-third of its production, Cabot shutting in some of its production, and today’s news that CNX has shut in production (see CNX Update: Shut-in 375 MMcf/d, Central PA Utica the Future), the cumulative effect of those three (plus other M-U drillers) is that our region now produces at least 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) less of natgas than it did just a few months ago. That decrease is helping to “balance” gas flows and help prices to not drop further than they already have.
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May NatGas Deliveries to US LNG Plants Lowest Since Last October

Feedgas, which is the gas that flows to LNG export facilities, hit the lowest levels it has seen since last October according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As we pointed out two weeks ago, natural gas prices are staying low because worldwide demand and prices for LNG is currently low (see Why Does NatGas Price Stay So Low with Falling Production?). Low prices will continue for the foreseeable future, with some 20 U.S. LNG export cargoes for June now canceled and another 45 for July rumored to be canceled.
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IEA Predicts Biggest Collapse in Global Energy Investment in History

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the “lifeblood” of the global energy system is…investment. That is, money. Without investment, new sources of energy don’t appear. In 2016 IEA began to publish an annual report called World Energy Investment, in order to track spending on all forms of energy worldwide. Earlier this week IEA published its fifth annual version of the report. In the report, IEA says 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, will mark the largest-ever collapse in global energy investment in history. IEA says the coming investment decline will impact oil the most.
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Why Does NatGas Price Stay So Low with Falling Production?

It’s kind of a mystery. The supply of natural gas produced in the U.S. has been declining over the past few months. Oil drillers are laying down rigs (historic lows for rigs in the oil patch), and companies are shutting in oil wells–all of which means there’s less associated natural gas being produced. M-U drillers like EQT (the largest natgas producer in the U.S.) are curtailing huge quantities of their production (see EQT Shuts in 33% of NatGas Production in Pennsylvania, Ohio). And yet, with all of this gas being removed from the market, the price of natgas is still stubbornly low. Why?
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$4 Natural Gas This Winter? Maybe, IF Things “Fall into Place”

We spotted an interesting story by S&P Global Platts about the dramatic increase in the stock price for gas-focused drillers, particularly in the Marcellus/Utica. Did you know that EQT’s stock has shot up 127% in value over the past three months? Range Resources and Southwestern Energy are both up 81% in value. Antero Resources is up 76%. It’s impressive! Then again, the stock price for most of those companies decreased by 90% over the past five years, so we have a lot of ground to make up.
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Oil Price Collapse Appears Over Already…Gas Price Impact?

What happens in the oil patch has a direct bearing on the financial health of gas drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, which is why we periodically cover happenings in oil. We’re now beginning to see articles with the theme that the oil price crash is already over. Yesterday West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed at $32.50/barrel. Still not great, but a lot better than the negative $37.63 we saw a few weeks ago! However, does a higher price for oil automatically mean shale oil drilling will immediately return, and with it more associated gas keeping the price of natgas low?
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Oil Markets are From Mars, Natural Gas Markets are from Venus

Our favorite government agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, published a blog post yesterday to outline the differences between the oil markets and natural gas markets and how each market responds to world events vis-à-vis pricing. EIA says crude oil markets respond quickly and often dramatically to world events, but natural gas markets have tended to be driven by regional factors and have been less connected to the international market. Oil markets are from Mars, natgas markets are from Venus.
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Oil & Gas Experts Say Industry Itself to Blame for Oil Price Crash

Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm along with Rice University surveyed 195 oil and gas industry experts from around the world. They published their findings in a report titled “2020 Oil & Gas Crisis Study.” The upshot, the sentiment, is that the current crisis faced by oil companies is largely homegrown. We did it to ourselves.
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“End Game” – America’s Shale Oil Industry Begins to Shut Down

In the end, physics and not government intervention is forcing the end of large amounts of shale oil production across the U.S. With a forced shutdown of the world’s economy (including the U.S. economy) due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 30 million barrels per day of oil the world would have used (out of a previous 100 million bpd) has disappeared. Demand has dried up. Yes, the oil apocalypse is here. Welcome to Hades. Some of our favorite oil superheroes will not make it out alive.
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U.S. Oil Industry: April Will be Terrible, May Will be Impossible

As the price of oil continues to crash and burn, U.S. shale oil companies are “living a nightmare.” Companies are now laying off employees by the thousands and beginning to shut-in wells. Everyone is holding their collective breath waiting for a tidal wave of bankruptcies, hoping it won’t come, fearing it will. What is it like living inside the oil price crash bubble in Texas? Believe it or not, an article in the well known fake news source New York Times does a pretty good job of describing the hell that America’s shale oil companies are now living through. A quote from one operator: “April is going to be terrible, but May is going to be impossible.” And, “I’m just living a nightmare.” That about sums it up.
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