Allison Cunningham House and Senate Return from Recess

Today, the House and Senate return to Washington after a five week district work period, readying themselves for a busy month of September. With both houses currently expected to be in Session two to three more legislative weeks before they recess to hit the campaign trail, much of the legislative agenda will be driven by upcoming elections and world events.

With escalating threats from the terrorist group ISIL, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has made clear his desire to hear from the Administration on their plans for addressing ISIL as a possible national security threat. This could lead to Republican-led messaging bills in the House of Representatives calling for the President to make his strategy known to the American people.

Of course, it is an election year, and it is clear from the Majority Leader’s September Agenda, that the Republican-led House will also work on a series of bills aimed at ensuring electoral victory in the fall. The plan spells out a number of bills aimed at making the economy, jobs, healthcare, and gasoline prices the focus of the September legislative period. Fortunately for the natural gas industry, this leaves ample opportunity for meaningful energy legislation, including bills aimed at providing states with the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, to expedite the export of liquefied natural gas to our allies, and to modernize the review process for new natural gas permit applications.

Aside from an anticipated adjournment date of September 23, the Senate forecast remains slightly less defined. While also working to protect vulnerable incumbents, the Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to work on bills increasing the minimum wage, regulate campaign spending, allow for student-loan refinancing, and reverse the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding employee contraceptive coverage. There is also a chance the Senate may move to reauthorize the Export-Import bank, or take up defense authorization, legislation to curb corporate inversions, or update satellite television broadcast rules.

Perhaps the most pressing business in both chambers is that of the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told House Republicans he plans to pass a simple CR in order to avoid threats of a government shutdown. With the current government funding bill set to expire on October 1, this would shift any major spending decisions until after Election Day. Senate Democrats are rumored to be preparing for a CR as well, which at present appears to be a clean re-authorization at current funding levels.

As with any government funding bill, things are often not as simple as they appear, with the possibility of additional funding being included in a CR. This may include measures to fund the Export-Import Bank as well as funding for the ongoing border crisis. Though there are rumors of a possible government shutdown, that scenario remains unlikely, as legislators in both chambers hope to finish up legislative business and return to their districts for one last campaign push before Election Day.

Posted in congress | Leave a comment

Chris McGill Natural Gas Market Indicators: August 29, 2014

As we enter September, analysts will look for signs of supply disruption during what is normally the most impactful period of the Atlantic hurricane season. In addition, chatter may develop around the status of underground storage inventories. Current views are that said inventories may be 300 Bcf lower (about 3.5 Tcf in early November) compared to the recent past, when a volume of 3.8 Tcf seemed to provide a level of comfort for analysts. Thus a storage deficit. But is that really the right question to be asking.

Recent data shows, and many analysts believe, that domestic natural gas production will continue to grow with infrastructure constraints being overcome in critical areas of the Marcellus play. In fact, many believe that domestic production will grow to 70 Tcf per day by the start of the 2014-15 winter heating season. If that is so, then flowing gas will exceed that of the 2013-14 winter season by about 4 Bcf per day. Over a 150 day winter heating season that means another 600 Bcf of gas supply may be available to the national market that was not available one year ago.

Without another record-setting winter for much of the nation maybe the question should be, how is the market going to accommodate the supply surplus over the balance of the coming winter? The fact is it is never that arithmetic or simple. Demand side questions, such as what new natural gas demand, is now institutionalized are completely legitimate. That is what makes this analysis so fun. Time always gives us the answers to our questions, if we are listening.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

Posted in environment, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Market Indicators, weather | Leave a comment

Chris McGill Natural Gas Market Indicators: August 15, 2014

With underground storage exceeding 2.5 Tcf by August 15 and nearly 80 days remaining in the traditional injection season, an inventory of 3.5 Tcf or more to enter the winter appears very likely. A strong summer long injection season has been supported by cooler than normal temperatures, minimal supply disruptions due to hurricane activity and continued growth in domestic production.

When the 2014-15 winter begins, the nearly 4 Bcf per day of incremental production growth dating back to the beginning of the year will still be with us and will be a part of supply assets in place to meet winter heating season demand. Efficiency measures will still be putting downward pressure on average consumption per customer and in the local gas utility segment, more distribution pipeline will have been modernized creating a safer system. So many moving parts – and so many moving in the right direction.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

Posted in environment, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Market Indicators, science, weather | Leave a comment

Lisa Dundon AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in Tutu

This past Monday, August 11, marked the Common Ground Alliance’s (CGA)’s annual National 811 Day to promote safe digging awareness and the Call Before You Dig campaign. Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States, though improvement is being made thanks to outreach efforts on the part of local natural gas utilities and other stakeholders.

Every year, as part of their commitment to safety, AGA’s member companies, the local natural gas utilities of America, educate customers and community members throughout the nation about the importance of locating pipelines before starting construction projects, planting or undertaking any kind of digging activity. Here are some highlights from the many activities that took place earlier this week:

  • 811 building BGE 300x199 AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in TutuBaltimore Gas & Electric lit up downtown Baltimore with an impressive 811 window light display.
  • Consumers Energy took to social media to share a cute image of a dog digging a hole in the ground, to remind customers to call 811 before beginning any digging projects, big or small. One Facebook fan commented that she had never heard of 811 prior to the posting.
  • Atmos Energy teamed up with Texas 811 to hold the first 811 Day Extravaganza in Plano, Texas. More than 100 city officials, EMS workers and firefighters participated in hands-on digging demonstrations and roundtable discussions focused on safe digging practices. Watch video footage from the event here and view a photo gallery on Atmos Energy’s Facebook page.
  • Columbia Gas of Virginia kicked off the week by participating in several National Night Out events across the state, as well as Home Depot events, promoting 811 and pipeline safety. They also reached out to the public via customer emails, radio and digital ads, and a press release. Employees enjoyed 811 cake during meetings dedicated to safety.
  • Xcel Energy created a new and unique Call Before You Dig video and promoted it on YouTube and across their social media pages. The video, featuring a bearded fairy dressed in cut-off shorts and a tutu,received more than 1,600 views and the Facebook posts reached more than 136,000 people in less than 24 hours.
  • 811 flash mob 300x171 AGA Members Mark 811 Day with Flash Mob, Giant Light Display and Man in TutuAt Nicor Gas – AGL Resources, staff members partnered with the Aurora Junior Woman’s Club to present an 811 Day Flash Mob in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture (a.k.a. “The Bean”) in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Over 50 dancers performed “Bright Lines” to the tune of Robin Thicke’s hit-song “Blurred Lines.”

Can’t wait another year for 811 Day? Every April is National Safe Digging Month(NSDM). Many utility companies air PSAs and TV spots, and carry out social media campaigns to promote safe digging, especially during planting season. In the meantime, you can make sure to urge your customers, friends and family to make the 811 Promise. Let us know about your future Call 811 activities in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what your utility has in the works!

Posted in 811, community, education, events, Natural Gas, people, safety | Leave a comment