Study: Henry Hub Volatility To Emerge From U.S. LNG Exports

August 2013, Vol. 240 No. 8

The price of Henry Hub will become significantly more volatile once U.S. LNG exports begin, and the more export capacity that is approved and built, the greater the volatility will be. This is the central theme of a new study released by PIRA Energy Group, a NYC-based energy market consulting firm.

The study, “Liquefied Henry Hub: The Repercussions of North American LNG Exports at Home and Abroad,” concludes that much of the natural gas market’s attention is focused on how Henry Hub gas pricing will influence the world once LNG exports begin. An equal, if not greater, concern should be placed on how gas markets in the rest of the world will affect Henry Hub pricing because the influence will be significant.

Specifically, the study notes that with U.S. LNG exports forecast to crest at 9 Bcf/d (91 Bcm/y) by 2025, including 8 Bcf/d (81 Bcm/y) from the Gulf, the call on U.S. gas production will account for 5-15% of the total. According to study author Mickey Kwong, “Depending on the degree to which this new form of demand is indifferent to North American market developments, the Henry Hub price ramifications will be substantial, at least in the short-term.”

The PIRA study addresses the multitude of gas price drivers around the world that will influence Henry Hub pricing, once LNG exports begin later this decade. Issues ranging from Russian gas production and seasonal gas use in a storage-short Europe to Japanese nuclear policy and bearable gas prices in Asia will have a direct impact on Henry Hub prices on a daily basis much the way issues in the Mideast or West Africa influence crude oil prices.

According to the study, price volatility for Henry Hub will also be influenced by LNG-related changes in the supply/demand balances within the North American market. The timing of new supply, combined with domestic gas demand growth from low Henry Hub prices and the stability of LNG production, add significant layers of complexity to the movement of Henry Hub prices.

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