Natural Gas Now Best Picks of the Week – December 19, 2020

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Readers pass along a lot of stuff every week about natural gas, fractivist antics, emissions, renewables, and other news relating to energy. As usual, emphasis is added.

California Wealthy Elites Imposing High Electricity Prices on the Poor

Great insights from Energy In Depth on California’s energy problems; they all start with its wealthy elites:

California’s municipal gas bans cater to an affluent few. Electricity in the state costs 60 percent more than the U.S. average, and the state boasts the highest poverty rate in the nation, meaning that many don’t have the luxury of bearing any additional expense from electrifying every aspect of their home. The average median household income of the 40 cities in the Golden State that have passed a reach code banning future use of natural gas appliances in buildings totals $116,379 – approximately $45,000 (63 percent) more than the California average. On the list are multiple outliers within the state, with Menlo Park, Piedmont, and Los Altos earning upwards of $220,000.

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Before the COVID pandemic, 18.1 percent of state residents lived in poverty and 33 percent were classified as low income. According to a 2016 study by Energy Efficiency For All, any modest electricity rate increase would threaten these vulnerable households with mass shut-offs and economic dislocations. Already since that study was published, electricity rates have risen 10.9 percent and continuing to trend upwards.

It’s always the same people, isn’t it? Wealthy elites and trust-funders are always paying more attention to signaling their green virtues than looking out for the good of the folks they would have us believe they represent.

LNG Demand and Pricing Surging

LNG is a hot market right now, according to this story:

Liquefied natural gas has made a dramatic rebound from a pandemic-induced demand collapse, and the rally in the heating and power-plant fuel could extend into next year.

The onset of colder weather in key importing nations, outages at major production hubs and congestion along global shipping routes have combined to push spot prices in Asia this week to the highest level since 2014, a more than sixfold jump from a record low in April.

Most of those factors are seen persisting into the early weeks of 2021, adding to upward pressure for prompt cargoes. That’s a potential boost for commodity houses that’re shifting more resources to trading the fuel and are typically more exposed to spot prices than oil-linked rates.

“It’s going to take three to four weeks before the cavalry arrives with enough supply from Qatar, Nigeria, and the U.S., so if you’re a buyer with immediate needs, it’s going to be costly,” said Ira Joseph, head of gas and power analytics at S&P Global Platts.

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The Japan-Korea Marker, the benchmark for spot deals in Asia, rose to $12.40 per million British thermal units Tuesday, according to Platts, which assesses the price. Prices have risen 81% in the past month and are up 564% since bottoming out on April 28. The assessment fell to $12.12 on Wednesday when it rolled from January to February prices.

Demand for LNG is expected to grow faster than for any other fossil fuel, according to the International Energy Agency. China, India and emerging Asian markets will account for most of the future growth in imports, the agency forecasts.

Well, how about that?

Pipsqueak Bad Actor Attempts to Shame DRBC

There’s an awful lot about the DRBC that is, indeed, most shameful, but approving Gibbstown isn’t it:

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) recently approved a construction permit for the Gibbstown Logistics Center in Gloucester County, NJ, which will be capable of handling exports of liquified natural gas. The project from New Fortress Energy involves transporting the gas from the Marcellus Shale across Pennsylvania to the terminal using 100-car trains that activists have called “bomb trains.”

Pennsylvania State Sen. Katie Muth, who represents Philadelphia’s suburbs, likened the trains to “the energy of the Hiroshima bomb” in a tweet opposing the project.

A flurry of statements from environmental groups came out after Wednesday’s ruling, including one from actor Mark Ruffalo who recently starred in a movie about contaminated water in West Virginia calling the commission’s decision “shameful.” Ruffalo and fellow actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio were among the signatories on a letter to Govs. Phil Murphy (D-NJ), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), John Carney (D-DE), and Tom Wolf (D-PA) opposing the terminal. The governors serve as ex-officio members of the Commission and appoint alternates to represent them.

The letter argued that the project violates the “strict water quality laws and regulations for toxic” chemicals, and the commission should hold off on voting until President-elect Joe Biden takes offices. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is also represented on the Commission, previously approved the project as has the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

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Ruffalo issued a statement calling the decision “shameful” and put the governors on notice.

“We will not stand by and let our leaders deceive us in this way,” he said. “We will hold them accountable. And we will replace them.”

Meanwhile, the environmental community made clear it sees the Gibbstown approval a betrayal from the Democratic governors.

“This shameful vote gives the Trump administration one final fossil fuel industry victory and represents a direct and potentially deadly threat to hundreds of thousands of people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” said Food & Water Watch South Jersey organizer Jocelyn Sawyer.

“The DRBC has sold out the Basin and sided with the fracking industry, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is the worst decision the commission has ever made. Their decision is outrageous and dangerous.”

“With this vote today, the Delaware River has been dealt a deadly blow by the Delaware River Basin Commission and the Governors who are supposed to protect our river, its irreplaceable quality, and our communities,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

“Today’s vote is dereliction of duty by the DRBC and their Governor representatives, which will cause irreparable harm to the Delaware River, deepen our climate crisis and threaten our communities,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.

“The disastrous approval of this massive fracked gas export terminal is a lovely parting gift to the Trump administration and their fossil fuel allies,” said Eric Benson, NJ Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action.

So nice to see these elitist shills get their comeuppance and to watch the DRBC learn it has no friends on the extremist environmental left or among the folks such as the William Penn Foundation who funds both groups. And, let’s put littler Mark Ruffalo “on notice,” too, that he has zero influence in the real world.

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1 thought on “Natural Gas Now Best Picks of the Week – December 19, 2020

  1. I am confident that safety of both communities and the environment will be maintained while this very needed revenue generating gas exploration, distribution, and export processes are expanded. Revenue is of the utmost importance for a possible recovery from COVID Impact(s).

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