Global LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) prices, similar to global crude prices, have struggled this year. The price of West Texas Intermediate Crude (crude oil’s benchmark index) bottomed out at -$37 per barrel on April 20th, rebounded by June to approximately $30, and then recovered to about $40 per barrel for most of the summer. While LNG’s Japan Korea Marker (JKM, a major LNG index) significantly decreased, it did not go into negative territory like crude oil. However, unlike crude oil, the JKM index had a much longer sustained low, and when including the cost to liquify the natural gas, the price for LNG was essentially negative.
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Next summer’s peak demand in Texas is forecasted to grow by about 3% compared to the summers of 2019 and 2020. The good news is that new generation is being added at a faster rate, which will create a higher Reserve Margin where the amount of electricity supply exceeds the forecasted demand. Most of this new generation is coming from renewable power projects across Texas. Once it is operational, the Samson Solar project, a 1,310 MW solar array in Northeast Texas, will become the largest solar farm in the US.
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Every four years, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) commissions a study to evaluate and forecast the balance of electricity supply and demand in the state. This study considers the economy, demographics, implementation of energy efficiency measures and many other factors used to assess the amount of electricity needed across the state. This latest study examined the period from May 2021 to April 2025, in an attempt to determine the amount of electricity supply that is needed to keep up with expected changes in demand. Notably, the economic effects and the demand destruction in New York State and New York City caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are built in to this study. This is a critical point because there was a 13% reduction in electricity consumption in NYC during the first wave of this pandemic in March-April 2020. This change in electricity demand, driven mainly by the pandemic is shown below in Figure 1. This recently released study from the NYISO predicts that there will be less demand for electricity supply in the state of New York, which resets and lowers the demand curve that is used to establish the price for capacity. This is important for electricity buyers because it will likely lower the future cost of capacity.
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Santa has arrived a few days early for electricity buyers in PJM because falling natural gas prices have had a parallel effect on electricity prices for calendar year 2021. Usually, natural gas is withdrawn from storage during the month of November as the weather cools and heating demand increases. However, there was a net increase in the amount of gas placed into storage due to the mild temperatures throughout the northeast over the last several weeks. This caused natural gas prices to fall significantly and as reported last month, this is a big deal. This gas market correction has put downward pressure on near-term electricity prices across PJM and created excellent purchasing opportunities.
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The weather has been unusually warm this month, which has drastically pushed down natural gas prices. This stretch of higher temperatures in Texas and across the US has taken a lot of energy out of both the natural gas and electricity markets. It has also created very attractive opportunities for shorter-term purchases, since natural gas is the fuel for many for power plants across Texas. Moderate temperatures along with low spot price volatility from this summer have created weakness in future heat rates and also contributed to this electricity market correction.
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Throughout the year, analysts wrestled with many variables as they tried to forecast the End of Season (EOS) natural gas storage levels, which were reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the first week of November. The amount of gas in storage was impacted by the following:
Topics: Markets Natural Gas
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Ohio House Bill 6 (HB6), signed into law in July 2019, provided a bailout for two nuclear plants and two coal plants while lowering Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency goals substantially. At the time of its passage, the legislation was treated to a negative reception from the press and the bill faced scrutiny from environmental groups. Following the arrest of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a fierce advocate for HB6, on racketeering charges, Ohio lawmakers are debating whether to repeal the law, and how.
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In New York, the 2020 election was a big deal. It’s the first time since the 1930s that Democrats have successfully held a majority in the State Senate. While the Presidential race in New York was called for President-Elect Joe Biden almost immediately after polls closed, which gave the illusion of completion, the state is still counting ballots today. This year, as is true every other year, every member of the State Legislature was up for reelection. While incumbents certainly carry an advantage into any election cycle, New York has seen a political awakening following the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. This movement carried a new, Democratic majority into power in the State Senate in 2018 and lead to many moderate Democrats being swept out in favor of more liberal candidates.
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Yesterday, November 5th, ERCOT released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming winter season. In summary, the grid operator expects to have plenty of power plant capacity available this winter. ERCOT expects winter peak demand to top out at 64.5 GW, just shy of the all-time winter peak demand record of 65.9 GWs*.
Topics: Markets ERCOT Education Renewables
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The rise in the futures price for the 2021 NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas contract has been driven by one major fundamental driver - the steady decline in natural gas production over the last 10 months. Figure 1 shows that in November 2019 the EIA reported a record high average daily production of dry natural gas of 96.2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day. In September 2020 the daily average production fell to only 87.1 Bcf/day, a decrease of 9.4%. Even with a decline in gas production, the mild winter last year and the demand destruction from coronavirus has created a situation where there will likely be record levels of natural gas in storage.