U.S. Gas Prices Explode On Freezing Weather

By Irina Slav

U.S. natural gas prices hit record highs last week after the temperature in many parts of the country fell far below forecasts.

In Oklahoma, gas traded at as much as $600 per million British thermal units during the long weekend, pushed up by freezing temperatures across much of the central and western U.S., Bloomberg reported, citing traders who wished to remain unnamed.

In southern California, natural gas traded at $195 per mmBtu as a result of the weather.

Wholesale electricity prices were also soaring sky-high, reaching between $3,000 and $7,000 per megawatt-hour on Sunday. In Texas, wholesale electricity prices hit $7,000 that day. This compares to an average of $25 per MWh on the state’s grid, the Financial Times reports.

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As temperatures drop into single-digit territory, Texas’s wind power might is being compromised, too. The biggest producer of wind energy in the United States saw half of its wind turbines frozen by the icy winds blowing from Canada to parts of the U.S. unaccustomed to such temperatures. Of a total 25 GW in wind power capacity, 12 GW were knocked out by the freezing spell. At the same time, there is a shortage of natural gas, likely because of the sudden spike in demand.

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Following these developments, the Texas Electric Reliability Council has asked Texans to try and conserve energy as much as they can despite record-breaking demand.

“We are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units,” ERCOT said.

For natural gas producers, the cold spell has turned some wells into profitable territory again, according to World Oil. This is prompting some companies to even reconnect older conventional wells that have been shut for quite some time, now that the economics support doing so.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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