"Power Bills To The Moon": Chaos, Shock As Electricity Prices Across US Explode

Updated (2/13/21 1726 ET): Weather forecast models suggest the polar vortex will continue pouring Arctic air into much of the central US through Feb. 20. This means nat gas prices could rise even higher early next week as electricity demand continues to soar over the weekend as Americans crank up their thermostats and watch Netflix shows or mine Bitcoin. 

On Thursday, when we reported that nat gas prices across the plains states had soared to never before seen levels as a result of a brutal polar vortex blast...

... which literally froze off nattie supply as wellheads freeze-offs, cutting production receipts just when they're most needed by customers' demand for heating, we said that since the winter blast is expected to last for the duration of the week, it is likely that nattie prices across the plains states could hit GME batshit levels.

 

One day later that's exactly what happened because as frigid temperatures caused equipment failures, temporarily shutdowns and flaring in at least four nat gas (UNG) processing plants ...

  • Targa Resources’ Benedum Gas Plant in Upton County affected for 7 hours overnight, co. said in a filing
  • Occidental Petroleum’s Bennett Ranch Unit RCF Facility in Yoakum County, which is used for EOR, was affected for 9 hours Thursday: filing
  • DCP Midstream’s Goldsmith Gas Plant in Ector County affected for 1 hour Thursday: filing
  • Occidental’s nearby gas plant, another EOR facility, was affected by DCP Midstream incident: filing

... we hit the proverbial offerless market where any natgas that was available would be purchased at virtually any price, which is why midcontinent prices such as the Oneok OGT nat gas spot exploded from $3.46 one week ago, to $9 on Wednesday, $60.28 on Thursday and an insane $377.13 on Friday, up 32,000% in a few days. This is one of those places where having a limit up circuit breaker could actually be useful, even though there simply is nowhere near enough product to satisfy demand at any price hence the explosive move.

Hubs across the Midcontinent led the surge in prices again Feb. 12 as weather forecasts predicted the coldest temperatures in more than a decade would hit the region over the upcoming holiday weekend. Platts reported that at locations across Kansas, Oklahoma and Eastern Arkansas, hub prices were trading at single-day record highs around $200 to $300/MMBtu. Regional hubs, which typically service only limited local demand, saw fierce competition among shippers, utilities and end-users looking to meet weekend requirements.

At one Enable Gas Transmission location, the cash market traded as high as $500 with weighted-average prices holding steady by mid-session around $359/MMBtu. At other nearby hubs, cash markets moved to dizzying, record highs with One Oak Oklahoma at $374 (chart above), Southern Star at $275, Panhandle at $225 and ANR Oklahoma at $205. At the region's benchmark location, NGPL Midcontinent, the market was holding around $205/MMBtu, data from the Intercontinental Exchange showed.

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