$4 natural gas is back for now; nuclear issues make news

Natural gas prices have been inching upward and have actually eclipsed $4/mmBtu for several days during early April, according to figures posted daily by the Energy Information Administration.

The Nymex futures energy price for May delivery of natural gas was $4.09/mmBtu on April 11. That’s still pretty modest compared to price spikes that sent natural gas north of $10 before the shale revolution emerged in recent years. But $4 is noteworthy given the cheap price of gas during the past couple of years.

Speaking of natural gas, energy secretary nominee Ernest Moniz told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on April 9 that he would use a data-based analysis when considering Department of Energy applications to export liquefied natural gas.

** Plenty of nuclear units are doing seasonal refueling and maintenance outages so they will be ready for the summer air conditioning season. One of the outages turned tragic when a piece of heavy equipment fell upon a contract worker March 31 at Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Arkansas Nuclear One Unit 1. One contractor employee was killed and several injured. Entergy has acknowledged equipment was damaged in the accident.

ANO Unit 2 also shut down automatically following the accident. Entergy said April 4 that Unit 2 is being restarted but the process could take “several weeks.”

** The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) was disappointed in what President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposals held concerning nuclear power. NEI would have liked more seed funding for small modular reactors (SMRs). In addition, NEI wished the administration had actually proposed legislation to implement recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. Among other things, the panel had called for taking nuclear waste storage out of DOE and into a new organization for that purpose.

** There was a major earthquake not far from a nuclear power plant in southern Iran recently. But an April 9 press report from Reuters, and other sources, indicated there was no damage at the Bushehr nuclear plant despite the magnitude 6.3 quake.

** On April 7, the Washington Post and Bloomberg reported that businessman Elliott Roosevelt Jr., a grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, planned to use carbon dioxide captured from advanced coal plants in major enhanced oil recovery (EOR) development from the Permian Basin in Texas. The Post noted that Roosevelt has a deal to start buying CO2 from Summit Power Group and its Texas Clean Energy Project under development near Odessa, Texas. The article reported that Roosevelt is also in touch with Southern (NYSE:SO) about acquiring CO2 from the Kemper County, Miss., integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) lignite coal plant now under construction.

GenerationHub has reported extensively on both these two power projects.

** Speaking of Texas, many combined-cycle power plants have been announced there in recent weeks. One of the most recent developments being the Panda announcement that it has lined up lead vendor contracts for an additional 758-MW unit at the Temple station.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.