To give an idea of how serious the US natural gas glut has become, we can see that not only are we running out of places to put it, we are doing so sooner than we think. Gross oversimplification of Gas Storage 101 is natural gas is produced at the same rate year round, but put into underground storage outside of the winter. During the winter it get's used up and we get to the start of the injection season on April 1 and the cupboard is bare and the whole cycle starts again. That was then, this is now:
"We've already stored enough gas as of April 1 for the upcoming winter," said Bill Gwozd, vice-president of gas services at Ziff Energy Group.
(Martin King) predicted storage facilities will be brimming in the summer or fall during the traditional injection season, causing "real panic" in the market as producers run out of places to put gas. "We've never seen gas storage levels exit March at this high level, ever, in Canada or the U.S."
Last summer when people were predicting that the US market would recover to $4MMBTU I said it would be closer to the high $2s. As usual, I was too conservative, with the true price now in the upper ones and even more than the bottom in sight. We will see negative prices, i.e those few who can, like some generators, industrials and canny storage operators, will actually get paid to take gas out of the system.
Life is too short to start an analysis of trading fundamentals, for that you may have to pay me. From the Toronto Globe and Mail another interesting piece:
The natural gas glut may be confined to the United States and Canada for now, but it promises to reshape how the commodity is sold around the world.
It comes down to the perception of scarcity in the market. The United States no longer needs to import gas, meaning others believe there’s more for everyone else. Further, while vast amounts of North American gas may not be reaching import terminals overseas, foreign buyers now believe gas could transform into a global commodity, easing their reliance on neighbouring producers.
“You have buyers that four or five years ago were panicking and they said: ‘I’ll pay you anything to get gas,’ “ said Nikos Tsafos, a gas specialist at consulting firm PFC Energy.
It is this exact perception of scarcity that is telling us how in Europe we have to worry about people with holes in the head, those who continue to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there is an issue of insecurity of supply. We saw this just this week on the Danish wind story where:
Ms Friis, for example, is a front-bench spokeswoman for the opposition Liberal Party, right-of-centre and fiercely pro-business. For her, the decision to ditch fossil fuels is a matter of sound financial planning.
"No matter what we do, we will have an increase in the price of energy, simply because people in India and China want to have a car, want to travel," she says.
"That is why we came out with a clear ambition to be independent of fossil fuels: so we are not vulnerable to great fluctuations in energy price."
Paranoid inevitability, that I know the truth and you don't, can be a psychological syndrome. This is more than politics or difference of professional opinion here, it is simply delusional. And we have no better example than the saboteur in chief of the UK economy:
Indeed for the period of concern for our electricity and gas supplies (broadly 2016-2025) we can already observe some critical facts: the new gas from Russia and the ‘Stans’ are massively delayed, shale production proves more difficult and expensive than expected and many LNG facilities in mainland Europe did not get built due to the credit crisis.
AB wrote this on All Fools Day, but he's serious. His continuing obsession with security of supply is not only clinically delusional but continues to serve, as we see in the snippet above, countries to the east of us. His choice of language on shale tells us a lot about both his mental state and his willingness to play the Gazprom line on shale:
First, gas shale (unconventional gas) will be ripped out of the earth in enough quantities to meet our demands.
AB is the only person I've ever heard of who refers to gas shale (he's done it before). This inablity to get even the name right extends to gas "ripped out of the earth". This is Vladimir Putin's language (or was until this week). This is language designed to cause alarm at best and deliberately misinform at worst. This is language designed to agree with the green view of hydrocarbon resources. What exactly is the difference between ripping the earth and raping it?
But above all it's language designed to promote not the economy of the United Kingdom via shale gas but to promote investment in Russia and the Stans where I assume they tenderly lift the gas out of the earth before carefully delivering (via pipelines we pay for) it to dear fraternal allies.
I'm not completely accusing AB of being a Russian agent, any more than I think he plays the monkey to Centrica's organ grinders. But whoever's side he is on, he is definitely on the wrong side of history.
AB will be in Amsterdam next week at Flame. He'll be relieved to know I won't be. I'm choosing to go to Fort Worth the next week, to be on the right side of history.