Texas freeze delivers billions in income to gasoline and energy sellers By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A neighborhood experiences an influence outage after winter climate brought on electrical energy blackouts in San Marcos, Texas, U.S. February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Mikala Compton


By Devika Krishna Kumar, Scott DiSavino and Jessica Resnick-Ault

(Reuters) – Pure gasoline suppliers, pipeline firms and banks that commerce commodities have emerged as the most important market winners from February’s U.S. winter blast that roiled gasoline and energy markets, in response to greater than two dozen interviews and quarterly earnings studies.

The deep freeze caught Texas’s utilities off-guard, killed greater than 100 folks and left 4.5 million with out energy. Demand for warmth pushed wholesale energy prices to 400 instances the same old quantity and propelled costs to file highs, forcing utilities and customers to pay exorbitant payments.

After the storm, few firms wished to speak about their monetary good points, unwilling to be seen as profiting off others’ hardships. However a clearer image is rising from quarterly earnings and as utility firms smarting from huge payments sue to recoup their losses.

The most important winners have been firms with entry to provides, together with main vitality dealer Vitol, gasoline suppliers Kinder Morgan (NYSE:), Enterprise Merchandise Companions (NYSE:) and Vitality Switch (NYSE:), oil large BP plc (LON:), and banks Goldman Sachs (NYSE:), Financial institution of America (NYSE:) (BofA) and Macquarie Group (OTC:).

The corporations mixed stand to reap billions of {dollars} in income by promoting gasoline and energy in the course of the storm, in response to interviews and opinions of public paperwork. It’s attainable that some firms might by no means acquire on these gross sales as a result of ongoing litigation, nevertheless.

Losers embody producers that might not ship oil and gasoline as a result of frozen wellheads, gathering techniques and processing stations. The week-long output loss value shale producer Pioneer Pure Sources (NYSE:) $80 million, Chevron (NYSE:) about $300 million, and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:) $800 million.

Utilities are complaining of value gouging and of unwarranted provide cancellations. The Federal Vitality Regulatory Fee is reviewing gasoline and energy markets for potential market manipulation.

Goldman Sachs and Vitol didn’t remark. BofA didn’t reply to a request for remark.


Vitality Switch seems to have been the most important winner, saying in its quarterly outcomes it expects good points of about $2.4 billion for the yr from the storm. The pipeline large made most of its cash from buying and selling and from promoting what it had in storage in the course of the interval when costs skyrocketed.

Vitality Switch didn’t remark for this story.

Rival Enterprise Merchandise Companions mentioned the storm led to good points of about $250 million within the first quarter.

Kinder Morgan, one other gasoline storage and pipeline operator, earned about $1 billion in the course of the storm, the overwhelming majority from increased gasoline costs and gross sales. Anticipating excessive demand, Kinder Morgan mentioned it dispatched employees and backup turbines forward of the storm to its gasoline storage and pipeline amenities.

A supply near BP (NYSE:) mentioned gasoline buying and selling contributed lots of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} to the corporate’s first quarter outcomes. Chief Govt Bernard Looney mentioned he wished to “deftly keep away from” giving a precise quantity for the buying and selling division’s outcomes.

Graphic: Texas gasoline costs soars throughout February freeze – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/jznvnreddvl/Pastedpercent20imagepercent201620219759793.png

At the start of February, gasoline costs ranged from $2.50 to $3 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) at hubs from Houston to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Costs started climbing on Feb. 11 into the lots of of {dollars}, with Tulsa’s hub surging to a file $1,192.86 on Feb. 17, in response to authorities knowledge.

“That is what occurs if you go from a really properly equipped market to a really tight market, and on this case a catastrophically tight market,” mentioned one pure gasoline dealer. “That was very localized ache, and it actually stunned lots of people.”

Vitality merchants with three Texas electrical cooperatives advised Reuters they paid as a lot as $400 per mmBtu throughout a four-day stretch that started Valentine’s Day weekend. They requested anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to discuss the disaster. San Antonio’s municipal utility CPS Vitality mentioned its gasoline invoice for the week was about $700 million.

“I have been monitoring pure gasoline markets for 20 years. I’ve by no means seen value will increase like we noticed,” mentioned Tyson Slocum, an vitality and environmental advisory committee member on the Commodity Futures Buying and selling Fee and a director at Public Citizen, a shopper advocacy group.


Australia’s Macquarie, the second-largest marketer of U.S. pure gasoline, mentioned its buying and selling across the storm boosted its general revenue outlook for the yr by about 10%, which analysts estimated at about A$400 million ($317 million).

Forward of the storm, Macquarie merchants researched how earlier chilly fronts disrupted infrastructure to arrange a plan, mentioned sources inside the agency, who requested anonymity. The corporate didn’t remark for this story.

Texas’s grid operator ERCOT canceled $1 billion in service costs and state officers are contemplating securitizing unpaid ERCOT payments from electrical firms that defaulted.

Lots of the corporations that profited from buying and selling, akin to Goldman Sachs and BofA, are additionally dealing with losses from their publicity to utilities and electrical co-operatives which have declared chapter, in response to court docket filings.

BofA made lots of of thousands and thousands through its buying and selling arm, in response to a supply with direct information of the matter, however it’s owed practically $480 million by Brazos Electrical Energy Cooperative, which filed for chapter.

Disputes over value gouging and reneged contracts have additionally emerged after some suppliers declared the freeze was a pressure majeure occasion that allowed them to droop contracts.

Macquarie was sued by Exxon looking for to void an $11 million gasoline invoice. CPS Vitality sued BP, Chevron, Vitality Switch and others for submitting payments that bumped into the lots of of thousands and thousands of {dollars}.

Texas wind farm operators even have filed lawsuits in opposition to buying and selling arms of JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:) and Citigroup (NYSE:), sustaining the chilly snap was an excessive occasion that overrode contracts for energy era and supply.

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