Saturday, April 07, 2012

"an economic awakening that's been at least three years in the making"

Mark my words, the energy story of 2012 will be the 2nd order effects of a natural gas glut that will peak as they run out of storage to even keep the natgas being produced.  What then? Good for some manufacturers for sure, but not for others. 
Take for example the opening paragraph in this story today from Calgary: Gas supply glut curbs pipeline spending

The dampening of support for two proposed northern frontier natural gas pipelines to Alberta by their backers indicates an economic awakening that's been at least three years in the making
As much as I know the Keystone Pipeline, and all the invesment and jobs it could potentially induce, is at the center of national politics... the invesment being turned off elsewhere will be a bigger deal.  The pipeline just in the news above is a $16 billion dollar project.  That is a lot of pipe that is not going to be bought.

You would think low prices and potential that the nation will run out of storage capacity for natural gas prices would slow production, you would not know from looking at Ohio. There will be books written on all of this someday. 

and while we are all still absorbing the news of a potential ethylene cracker going into Beaver County, just note that Shell is also making noise about an even bigger Natural Gas to Diesel project that may go to Louisiana.

The bigger Pennsylvania story is going to be the  royalty payments many households have already been spening.  There just have to be a lot of folks spending their initial royalty checks without much consideration of how long they will last.  With natural gas prices dropping there is going to be an impact for sure and it may be bigger than some expect..  Pennsylvania court rulings have meant that state landowners only get royalities on the makret price net of production costs which are reported to be just under 90 cents/mcf for Marcellus gas.   So at current prices the royality base ($2 minus 90 cents)  is down conceivably 90% from mid 2008 (when prices were over ~$10/mcf).  It is not inconceivable royalty payments will virtually disappear if gas prices continue to drop.  I have seen no stories on this across Pennsylvania which makes me wonder what the delay is between production and royalty payment calculation.  If that delay is long, it means most just have not seen the bulk of the impact yet in their checks.  Since I hear stories of people paying cash for a lot of the noveau riche mega purchases... maybe the consequences won't be so dire, but hopefully there are not credit purchases that will come back to bite folks.

Finally if you are all doom and gloom on the price of oil and gasoline, some useful perspective in USNews: Be Wary of the Gloom and Doom Predicted by Energy 'Models'. 


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