Appalachian Greenfield Pipelines, or Great Turkey Highways?

November 20th, 2018 |

Over the past 4+ years, BTU has informed the market on some of the most influential and market-driving events through our free Energy Market Commentary. As our loyal readers know, we have also used late November to dive deep into the casual relationships between Thanksgiving and the oil and gas markets. Topics such as average well size vs average turkey size, wells drilled vs turkey population and demand boosts due to Thanksgiving (part I and II) have all been covered with astounding levels of quasi-analysis aided by the author’s preoccupation with his favorite holiday. Yes, I like Thanksgiving.

*fair warning, no need to read further if you are hoping to be enlightened on the gas or oil markets by reading this piece.

There are numerous ongoing pipeline projects meant to aid the Marcellus’ desire and necessity to expand into contiguous markets as it has outgrown its Appalachian home. I can’t think of a more market-consensus and downright common knowledge statement than the one just written.  But, what if?  What if the Toms, Jakes, Gobblers and Hens are really pulling the strings on what land is cleared for right-of-way and where?  What if the growth in PA’s turkey population and average turkey size has caused some of the more progressive turkeys to take matters into their own feet?  We’ve all heard of snow-birds, right?

While we in the O&G industry see the map above illustrating prudent and necessary projects for Appalachian producers and Atlantic coast gas consumers, our feathered friends likely see this as the fast-track to new, southern homes.  Yes, they will have to compete with indigenous turkeys for the best trees to roost in, but I believe this is a risk they are willing to take in order to bask in the +12° swing that they’ll enjoy during an average January by flying, strutting or walking from Pittsburgh, PA to Richmond, VA.  For those willing to take the full journey down Atlantic Coast Pipeline, they can enjoy a January with highs in the mid 50’s in Robeson County, NC, a 20° swing from western PA!

While the romantic notion of a nice long walk in the woods to new, exciting habitats sounds great, turkeys don’t migrate.  According to Wikipedia (like I said at the beginning of the article, quasi-analysis), “because wild turkeys don’t migrate, in snowier parts of the species’ habitat…it is important for this bird to learn to select large conifer trees (as roosts) where they can fly onto branches and shelter from blizzards.” Also, because of their size, they cannot fly much more than a quarter mile, making any dreams of heading south for the winter nothing more than a feathery, far-fetched dream.

As I make my pilgrimage east to enjoy Thanksgiving with family, I’ll take solace in the fact that I won’t encounter any convoys of gobbling gangs looking to establish new turf. Instead, Thanksgiving’s most important guest will be slowly cooked in an oven burning cheap and abundant Appalachian natural gas.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM BTU ANALYTICS!!!!

Author: Mason Ender

Mason Ender is a partner at BTU Analytics, LLC and managing director of business development overseeing client relations, marketing, and sales. Prior to joining BTU Analytics, he was the Manager of Sales for Bentek Energy, a division of Platts. Mason has worked with energy companies both domestically and internationally to implement effective fundamental energy analytic solutions. Mason also routinely presents energy market dynamics informing the market of upcoming risks and opportunities.