Monday, April 25, 2016

No Pipeline ... Kinder Morgan Pulls Out

Recorder Staff
Friday, April 22, 2016 

Kinder Morgan’s leadership fielded questions on the factors that led to the company’s decision to cancel the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline from financial analysts during an earnings call this week, and it boiled down to a lack of firm customers, regulatory hurdles, and an unstable global energy market.
Kinder Morgan CEO Steve Kean told analysts during the call Wednesday night that the company decided to nix the NED and another pipeline project in Georgia to cut about $4 billion in capital spending, according to a transcript posted on the investment news website Seeking Alpha.
“While many of our (local distribution companies) customers did sign up, we did not receive enough contractual commitments from electric customers to make the project viable,” said Kean. “So, we will fulfill our obligation to consult with our customers over the next 30 days or so, but this project is not economic, so we’re removing it from the backlog. In both cases, NED and Palmetto (the Georgia pipeline), based on all the facts, we believe this is the right outcome for our investors.”
Kean said the return on the NED project would have been less than 6 percent – a situation he described as “clearly not viable.”
“We value our New England customers and continue to believe along with many others that additional capacity is needed in the region, but we’ll have to look for other ways to serve some part of those needs,” he continued. “We didn’t get there on this one and the action we’re taking is undeniably the right call for our investors.”
Kean said a dramatic downturn in the gas and oil production sector has hit Kinder Morgan hard. Much of the midstream gas and oil industry has been plagued by similar woes as global commodity prices have plummeted. 

Analyst says 

Robert Pollin, a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said that a steep drop in oil and gas prices is being driven by the emergence of hydraulic fracturing as an inexpensive way to extract natural gas. That, he said, has seen oil producing companies like Saudi Arabia and others in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries – or OPEC – who have the ability to slash their prices do so in an effort to offer a cheaper product, undercutting that new competition and driving them out of business. That can constrain the supply.
On the demand end, the regulatory hurdles make it unclear whether the gas that is produced will even be bought on the other end.
“No investor is going to want to invest in a project if they don’t know they have a solid market once they’ve produced their product,” Pollin said, of Kinder Morgan’s inability to secure demand-side customers. “If Kinder Morgan is saying they don’t have the customers, then that’s an issue.” 

Kean also said in the call that one of the NED’s “significant prospective customers” decided to “put their volume somewhere else, with a significant negative impact on the project. He did not specify who that customer was.
That, and a growing opposition movement toward the use of fossil fuels as an energy source is growing worldwide, Pollin said, which could put pressure on investors to abandon oil and gas companies. That sentiment, in part, drove much of the grassroots opposition spawned by the proposed project.
“We are a lot better off with that $3.1 billion back in our pockets and being put to some other use. The project wasn’t going to produce the return that would be required to make it viable, because again the contracts weren’t there,” Kean said. “We’re better off having that money back.”
He expressed optimism that gas would grow moving forward, though.
“I think we’ll continue to see growth in natural gas and natural gas liquids exports,” he said. “And those long-term trends are good for North American energy midstream companies like Kinder Morgan.”
Kean noted the Palmetto pipeline was sunk by the Georgia Legislature preventing the company from getting eminent domain powers and other state permits. He said joint-venture projects elsewhere are going well.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., the Kinder Morgan subsidiary that would have built the NED, has sued the state over Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, which requires a legislative override to remove conservation restrictions on some of the land the company’s Connecticut Expansion project is set to cross in Sandisfield. The NED project would also likely have encountered a sizeable portion of that land along its own route.
Tom Martin, the company’s vice president for natural gas pipelines, said the company will continue to pursue alternatives for getting more gas into the Northeast, but that’ll likely need to be done through local distribution companies, and on a smaller scale.
Meanwhile, Berkshire Gas plans to maintain a moratorium on any new natural gas service hook-ups into the foreseeable future, citing a lack of alternative ways to obtain the gas it needs to maintain system pressure.
“There is need both in the near term and ultimately we believe in the long term in the region, but we’ll just try to scale up with that demand as it develops,” Martin told analysts.
“But,” Kean told analysts, “there is a regulatory process that has to get sorted out up there for how the power part of the business is going to procure the needs for their generating assets.”
Kinder Morgan cited those regulatory hurdles, which prevented power generators from signing on to the project, as a significant factor in the decision to suspend the NED.
“That’s been a work in progress and who knows when they ultimately get that resolved,” Kean said. “So there’s definitely less producer push activity for anything large. And we think on the demand side infrastructure is still needed, but they’ve got to come to terms with how it can get contracted for.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

NED may be dead but we still have important work to do!

House Bill 1660 will be heard at 10 am (arrive at 9:30) tomorrow April 28th. Here is Senator Sanborn’s message.

The session starts at 10 am and I expect the Bill to be debated about 10:30-10:45.

This is the bill about eminent domain. It has changed a bit but it is still an important bill that needs to be passed.

From Senator Sanborn : I think it is very important to see if we can get a great turn out for the debate and show the Senate members, many of whom have previously not weighed in on the issue, just how strongly we feel about a positive vote on this issue.
I might suggest that anyone who can, show up around 9:30am to make sure they can get a seat as our gallery is not as big as the House gallery.

PLEASE TRY TO ATTEND. Wear your NO PIPELINE BADGE and or your T-SHIRT if you have one.