The March Nymex futures contract fell another 1.9 cents to$2.198 Friday, as traders continued the falloff in prices theystarted on Thursday. “This was not a case of traders gunning forstops, where they try to push the contract under support hoping thecontract will fall even more. This was simply an extension ofThursday,” a broker said.
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With all regulatory approvals in place at both Federal andProvincial levels, sponsors of the Sable Island Offshore EnergyProject last week signed both their key commercial agreements andthe Facilities Alliance Agreement to engineer, construct andinstall production and gathering facilities to handle delivery of 3.5 Tcf of gas from offshore Nova Scotia. This formally commits theowners to the $2 billion first phase, which will deliver the firstgas in late 1999.
The March Nymex contract inched 3.2 cents higher to $2.270 onThursday, amid a session sources agreed was once again dominated bytechnicals. “This looks like a very strong trading range, sotoday’s result was to be expected,” a trader said. “March drifted afew cents toward the bottom of its range on Wednesday, so it makessense the contract would move higher today. Because the tradingrange is so tight right now, that is limiting how much March can goup,” he said.
Gordon Shearer, president of Cabot LNG Corp., said he knew if hewaited long enough, liquefied natural gas would have its day in themarketplace. That appears about to happen, at least in New England,where Cabot finds itself positioned to meet growing market demandwith LNG imported from thousands of miles away. At the CambridgeEnergy Research Associates 17th annual executive conference inHouston this week, Shearer enumerated factors growing New Englandgas demand and explained how LNG can economically meet some of thatdemand.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline has filed plans to increase capacity onsix separate pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico that together wouldrepresent an increase of over 720 MMcf/d in offshore lines owned byTennessee and other parties and a net increase in deliverabilityout of the Gulf of 200 MMcf/d.
In the official launch of the $3 billion Sable Offshore EnergyProject (SOEP) in Halifax earlier this week, project owners raisedexpectations for gas reserves and production. “Our ongoingtechnical studies and interpretation of the 3-D seismic informationgathered in 1996 and 1997 show that the potential exists for morethan the 3.1 Tcf we estimated as the basis for our development planapplication,” said Mobil Oil Canada President Jerry Anderson. “Thegood news is that we might expect to recover more than 3.5 Tcf.This larger potential resource base will enable us to increaseinitial production rates to more than 500 MMcf/d, depending on suchfactors as markets, well performance and operating efficiency.” Theowners originally expected 460 MMcf/d. The additional production,however, will be within the facilities design capacity of 554MMcf/d, they said.
The way FERC figures pass-through of costs in oil pipeline ratecases could hamper future use of converted lines, according toCommissioner Linda T. Key Breathitt, who issued dissenting opinionsin two oil pipeline cases involving Rio Grande and LonghornPartners Pipelines [OR97-1-001 and OR95-7]. In both cases theCommission ruled that the companies would not be allowed to passthrough the full purchase price of the pipelines, only thedepreciated original cost of the line. “In an area where Congresshas asked us to exercise regulatory restraint we turn around andapply textbook principles in a manner that may discourage futureconversions of oil pipelines to new uses,” Breathitt said. Theorders examine the corporate relationships between the companies toarrive at the conclusion that the companies are selling assets tothemselves. But Breathitt believes arguments about corporate tiesin these cases don’t apply. She was joined by Commissioner CurtHebert.
El Paso Energy International announced final agreements havebeen signed by the partners of an international consortium to buildthe 325-mile Gasoducto del Pacifico pipeline from Argentina acrossthe Andes mountains into Chile, roughly 300 miles south ofSantiago. Construction on the $380 million project has alreadybegun and the pipeline is scheduled to be in service by late 1999.The initial delivery capacity of the system is estimated to be 140MMcf/d.