Shale Gas

Nexus Pipeline Development Facing “Batty” Road Blocks

The Nexus pipeline project has run into countless hurdles and road blocks ever since its initial proposal last year. We first reported on the Nexus project back in March of 2016. The intent of the project is to support the growing demand for clean-burning natural gas, by building additional pipeline infrastructure in Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario (Canada). Following completion, the pipeline system is expected to move 1.5 Bcf/d (billion cubic feet a per day) of natural gas from southeastern Ohio, eventually ending in southern Ontario.

As of last March, 13 connection agreements were made with various Ohio markets affected by the proposed route. Since then, the project has faced turbulence from activist groups and countless townships. Just in the last couple of weeks, objection efforts have made news on several occasions. Just a few of these examples are below:

• The city of Green, Ohio has hired law firm, Frost Brown Todd to aid in the city’s fight to reroute the pipeline away from the city. City officials believe the pipeline will have a $120 million impact on the city.
• Bowling Green city Council voted months ago to deny an easement offer to build part of the pipeline through the city, and now has protesters on the proposed ground attempting to further stall its construction. UC4POWER a local activist group and BGSU faculty believe the pipeline could contaminate local water supply.
• One of the most peculiar reports comes from Medina County, where “the coalition to reroute Nexus” cites bats as an argument against pipeline construction. This part of the state is home to northern long-eared bats, a threatened species. As a threatened species, their habitat is supposed to be protected during the bats’ nesting season, but the coalition is fearful that Nexus could be granted an exception.

In attempt to avoid more conflict, Nexus pipeline partners asked FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to expedite the decision to grant permission by February 3rd, to build the pipeline, before one of the FERC commissioners steps down. FERC was inactive in response. The Nexus project isn’t dead yet, but at the moment, the future does appear uncertain.

 

Natural Gas Producers’ Bankruptcies and its Impact on Gas Production

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As of May 16th – 77 natural gas and oil producers in North America have filed for bankruptcy since 2015, and 35 of those have done so since the start of 2016…

A recent study conducted by PointLogic Energy explored how much production is represented by these 77 companies, where they are located and the overall impact it is having.

The analysis concluded that 4.4 billion cubic feet per day of gas production and 307,000 barrels per day is represented by the bankruptcy companies.  The production of these companies represents 5.4% and 3.6% of the lower-48 states’ gas and oil production respectively.

 

Some major takeaways from the review:

  • The volume of gas attributed to the companies in bankruptcy is much larger than the corresponding volumes of oil.
    • For Example: In Texas 7.5% of natural gas production is bankrupt while only 2.8% of oil production is represented.
  • There are regional winners and losers: Of the major producing states, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Louisiana bear the brunt of bankruptcy related volumes. The Northeast and Gulf of Mexico appears largely unscathed.

The overall takeaway when reviewing the companies that have filed for bankruptcy is that they are highly weighted to natural gas, rather than oil products.

So what does it mean going forward? If oil prices recover and producers increase drilling we will likely see an increase in associated gas production, regardless of what natural gas prices are doing. Rising gas production from the associated oil production will inflict even more troubles for the bankrupt market segment with storage constraint worries. The remaining summer looks to be a difficult price environment for natural gas producers, especially in the Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Louisiana regions.