March 2015, Vol. 242, No. 3

Features

Falling Oil Prices Exert Influence on Utility Construction

The free-falling oil price caught many observers off guard. Historically, crude oil and natural gas prices tend to stay in alignment as the imbedded energy content is the defining characteristic. Since 2010, when the price of these commodities separated, many observers anticipated upward volatility in the price of gas to realign it with the price of oil. Few analysts anticipated oil falling to realign with low-cost natural gas. Falling oil prices affect the competitiveness of U.S. shale oil plays. For example, basin breakeven extraction costs demonstrate low competitiveness in the $40-60 range. While the reasons for the freefall of oil are highly complex and frankly not well explained, th

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