Ethane margins officially turned negative at Mont Belvieu last week, which means that both major natural gas liquid (NGL) hubs in North America are officially rejecting ethane as Conway margins have been negative for much of the second half of 2012.
Outside of a still recovering economy and weak overall market for commodity prices, the ethane market is facing several other headwinds. The biggest of these is the large storage overhang. Low prices would normally help to work off this excess storage, but decreased propane prices are providing unwanted
Nine months ago, natural gas liquids (NGLs) seemed like a sure thing for producers.
To boost profits, the oil and gas industry spent the past few years going through a shale-gas makeover as hydraulic-fracturing techniques advanced. Part of that transformation was a shift to liquids-rich gas and away from dry natural gas.
The bounty has been good; maybe a bit too good.
A mounting supply of NGLs has created a steep discount this year, weakening the profitability of a key driver of U.S. shale development.