Yesterday, August 11, U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported Freeport LNG said it was still pulling in small amounts of natural gas from pipelines at its shuttered LNG export plant in Texas to fuel a power plant. And, this is the important part, it still expects the liquefaction plant, which shut due to a fire on June 8, to return to at least partial service in early October. Thursday, U.S. gas futures jumped about 8% on talk of increased gas flows to the Freeport LNG plant, a drop in gas output, and forecasts for more demand for the fuel over the next two weeks than previously expected. The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (UNG) gained 6.06%.
My Quick Pick this week is Cheniere Energy (LNG), a liquified natural gas producer that I currently own in my Volatility Portfolio on JubakAM.com and plan to add to my Jubak Picks portfolio as well. The stock has fallen as U.S. natural gas prices have taken a hit after a fire at the Freeport liquified natural gas facility that has caused a backup in U.S. LNG exports. I think it’s a great time to get in on this long-term story at Cheniere, which just announced that it had given the go-ahead to the construction of a new LNG chain at its Corpus Christi facility. That chain won’t be in operation until 2025 but I see the demand for U.S. LNG continuing to rise through then.
Normally at this time of year natural gas prices retreat and companies actually stash natural gas in storage for use durin hurricane outages in the fall and winter heating season. Not this year, however. Today natural gas prices in the U.S. hit a new 18-year high. At 11:20 a.m. New York time natural gas for June delivery climbed to $8.08 per million BTUs, up 8.12% on the morning
Russia’s Gazprom has told Poland’s government that it will stop supplying natural gas to Poland beginning on Wednesday after Poland refused to pay the supplier in roubles. Western sanctions have made it almost impossible for Russian companies to collect payments in dollars or euros. The decision to stop natural gas supply to Poland also followed on the country’s announcement on Tuesday that it was imposing sanctions on 50 entities and individuals including Russia’s biggest gas company. Polish ministers told a press conference that Poland had sufficient supplies of gas to weather the interruption
Today, April 21, reports from a number of different sources are pointing to lower oil production–which will mean higher oil prices. Even from current levels. And oil prices are significantly higher in the past three weeks. At 3:00 p.m. New York time today U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded at $103.44 a barrel, up 1.61% on the day. On April 11 West Texas Intermediate traded for just $94.29 a barrel.
Don’t sell those oil stocks yet! Back at the beginning of the year, I anticipated that coming conflict between Russia and the Ukraine would drive up the price of oil, and the stocks I added to my portfoliohene stocks (COP, EQNR, LNG) have all been up big. But, I don’t think it’s time to sell yet. Why? Summer. Summer is the big driving season in the Northern Hemisphere, and right now (in what’s called the “shoulder season”) reserves of gasoline are supposed to be replenished in anticipation of summer. But that’s not happening due to Russia-Ukraine, and I think with summer we will see prices for oil spike even higher. That’s why I wouldn’t sell these stocks yet. (And that’s despite of the selling today, March 28, on more lockdowns in China)
The United States and Europe have reached an agreement to expand U.S. supplies of natural gas to Europe in an effort to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.
Details are bit vague. And wishful thinking is a big ingredient. The basis problem is that Russia supplies Europe with 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year via pipelines. U.S. and other sources can’t match increase production to that level and the infrastructure to get the gas to Europe simply doesn’t exist. Yet the goal has now been put on paper and the agreement promises that Europe will get at least 15 billion cubic meters of additional LNG supplies by the end of the year. Even though it is not clear where the natural gas welcome from or how ti will be delivered.
Oil rallied again today with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate up 4.79% on the day to $114.79 a barrel and international benchmark Brent up 5.12% to $121.39 a barrel. So, natural, oil and gas equities stocks are up today. And the broader market is down. What else isn’t new?
I suppose there is something else that could add to the supply of bad news today on oil supply, but we’ve already got a full dance card At 2 P.m. in New York U.S. crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate traded up 5.07% to $121.55 a barrel; international benchmark Brent crude was up 6.24% to $125.48 a barrel. Where to start?
Getting the the timing right on oil prices (and oil stocks) is very tricky–so I’m making just a limited move tomorrow, Monday, February 28
On Saturday the European Union nations that control SWIFT, the dominant global network connecting banks, announced that they would expel some specific Russian banks from the network. The U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom agreed with the move. The U.S. and its European allies left open the question of sanctions directly on Russia’s central bank.
The move to deny access to SWIFT means that the named Russian banks, and I’m not naming them because I haven’t been able to find a list, won’t be able to pay other banks or receive funds from other banks. They will not be able to transact business with international banks over the SWIFT network for their client businesses. I’d expect that out of an abundance of understandable caution, many Western banks will refuse to do business with Russian banks at all.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine about to trigger another package of tougher U.S. and European sanctions, I think we can expect Russia to delver on Vladimir Putin’s promise of retaliation. The most obvious form of that will be cyberattacks on U.S. infrastructure, like the Colonial Pipeline attack, on U.S. financial systems through hacking to steal customer information and denial of service attacks, and on attacks to break into U.S. corporate networks to either paralyze those networks or to effectively put them off line. I wouldn’t rule out attacks on government infrastructure either at local, state, and national levels.
International benchmark Brent crude jumped as much as 4.7% to $95 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Brent was up 23.68% and trading at $94.77 at 3 p.m. New York time Friday. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate, which normally trades below Brent in price, was up 4% to $93.50 a barrel at 3 p.m. in New York.