Energy In-depth: Pump Prices Continue Winter Slide

Jan 29, 2016


Editor’s note: Each Friday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Energy In-depth,” a round-up of energy and regulatory news. 

ARKANSAS, U.S. GAS PRICES CONTINUE WINTER SLIDE, STATE PUMP SIGNS SHOWING AVERAGE OF $1.61 A GALLON:Gas prices have spent 27 consecutive days below $2 per gallon and could head lower still as reduced seasonal demand and falling crude oil costs combine to send pump prices to the lowest mark in six years, according to AAA. The average price of $1.82 per gallon on Jan. 27 is the cheapest price since January 2009, and retail averages have fallen for 71 of the past 82 days for a total savings of 41 cents per gallon over this span. Crude oil supply continues to outpace demand, which has helped push gas prices down by eight cents on the week, 19 cents on the month and 22 cents on the year.

Drivers in Arkansas are paying on average $1.61 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Pump prices have fallen 15 cents in the last month and are 30 cents below year ago levels.

WEST VIRGINIA AG, RUTLEDGE AND OTHERS APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT TO HALT EPA’S CLEAN POWER PLAN: West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and attorneys general and regulators from 29 states, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s Power Plan.

In his application to the high court requesting a stay of the proposed plan, Morrisey says the Obama administration’s historic carbon emissions rules that will curtail or shut down most of the nation’s coal-fired power plant fleet forces states to overhaul their energy portfolio and does so without congressional authority, costing countless jobs, increasing electricity prices and jeopardizing energy reliability. The West Virginia attorney general estimates a final ruling from a D.C. Circuit Court could take at least six months and perhaps stretch into 2017. The D.C. Circuit Court, which declined to take similar action last week, will hear oral arguments June 2 on the merits of the states’ case.

FITCH DOWNGRADES OUTLOOK OF OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY TO NEGATIVE, CITES SWN’S RECENT CREDIT WOES: Fitch Ratings has revised its 2016 ratings outlook for the U.S. Oil & Gas industry to “negative” from “stable,” reflecting the impact of lower oil and gas prices. Fitch said its ratings outlook and the downward revision of the industry’s corporate oil & gas price outlook earlier this month is likely to increase the number of negative ratings actions seen across the sector.

As of Jan. 24, 2015, approximately 29% of companies in Fitch’s U.S. oil & gas portfolio had negative outlooks. Low prices hit high yield oil & gas issuers hard last year, and they remain under considerable stress in this downturn, Fitch said. Single ‘B’-rated companies in particular face a variety of challenges, including a higher cost base, declining hedge coverage, lack of financeable assets and limited market access.The Wall Street rating service said the credit impact of lower oil and gas prices is beginning to ripple out across the investment grade energy space, causing recent investment downgrades for ConocoPhillips, Hess and Fayetteville Shale leader Southwestern Energy. To see the recent report, click here.

OPEC SECRETARY GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO HOUSTON TO SPEAK: The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), H.E. Abdalla Salem El-Badri, will be the keynote speaker at the 35th IHS CERAWeek in Houston on February 22-26.

El-Badri will appear alongside the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, for a special plenary dialogue on the future of the oil market. They will be joined by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; the chief executives of ConocoPhillips, GE, Royal Dutch Shell and Siemens; the President of Mexico; and several energy ministers from oil-producing nations. Top officials from the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration will appear at the five-day event.