Energy numbers show sub-$1 natural gas reported in some regions

Consumers of a certain age can remember in the 1960s and 1970s when the fast-food chain McDonald’s would advertise the availability of a hamburger, fries and soft drink and “change back from your dollar.”

Now 2015 is drawing to a close and certain organized energy markets are places where spot natural gas can cost even less than $1/mmBtu.

Nine of the 10 markets tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) posted regional spot natural gas prices of $2/mmBtu. Two regions recorded prices of less than $1/mmBtu. They were the Mid-Atlantic at 74 cents and New York City at 91 cents.

The NYMEX energy futures price for January delivery of natural gas was $1.99/mmBtu.

With winter almost here, most of the nation’s nuclear plants are running. Only five nuclear reactors were listed at zero power early Dec. 14 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). They include Exelon (NYSE:ETR) Limerick 2, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) Catawba 1, Tennessee Valley Authority Watts Bar 2, STP Nuclear Operating’s South Texas Project 1, and Entergy (NYSE:ETR) Waterford 3.

It remains to be seen what, if any, impact the international climate accord announced over the weekend in France might have on energy prices, especially for coal and fossil generation.

According to published reports, the agreement formally asks the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. climate science and research body, to issue a special report in 2018 detailing steps needed to reach the 2- and 1.5-degree Celsius targets.

Companies that extract fossil fuels in North America are already having a difficult time financially, Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) Jacob Williams warned Dec. 7 during the PennWell GenForum in Las Vegas.

Three days after the GenForum gathering, Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI) on Dec. 10 announced that it has been notified by the New York Stock Exchange Regulation Inc. that it is not in compliance with the exchange’s continued listing standards. The NYSE said that Arch Coal’s average equity market capitalization has been less than $50m over a consecutive 30 trading-day period, and because its stockholders’ equity was below $50m in its most recent Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Nov. 11 for the period ended Sept. 30, 2015.

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.