Comparison of AEO 2007 Natural Gas Price Forecast to NYMEX FuturesPrices

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On December 5, 2006, the reference case projections from 'Annual Energy Outlook 2007' (AEO 2007) were posted on the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) web site. We at LBNL have, in the past, compared the EIA's reference case long-term natural gas price forecasts from the AEO series to contemporaneous natural gas prices that can be locked in through the forward market, with the goal of better understanding fuel price risk and the role that renewables play in mitigating such risk (see, for example, http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/EMS/reports/53587.pdf or http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/54751.pdf). As such, we were curious to see how the latest AEO gas price forecast compares ... continued below

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Bolinger, Mark & Wiser, Ryan December 6, 2006.

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Description

On December 5, 2006, the reference case projections from 'Annual Energy Outlook 2007' (AEO 2007) were posted on the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) web site. We at LBNL have, in the past, compared the EIA's reference case long-term natural gas price forecasts from the AEO series to contemporaneous natural gas prices that can be locked in through the forward market, with the goal of better understanding fuel price risk and the role that renewables play in mitigating such risk (see, for example, http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/EMS/reports/53587.pdf or http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/54751.pdf). As such, we were curious to see how the latest AEO gas price forecast compares to the NYMEX natural gas futures strip. This brief memo presents our findings. As a refresher, our past work in this area has found that over the past six years, forward natural gas contracts (with prices that can be locked in--e.g., gas futures, swaps, and physical supply) have traded at a premium relative to contemporaneous long-term reference case gas price forecasts from the EIA. As such, we have concluded that, over the past six years at least, levelized cost comparisons of fixed-price renewable generation with variable-price gas-fired generation that have been based on AEO natural gas price forecasts (rather than forward prices) have yielded results that are 'biased' in favor of gas-fired generation, presuming that long-term price stability is valued. In this memo we simply update our past analysis to include the latest long-term gas price forecast from the EIA, as contained in AEO 2007. For the sake of brevity, we do not rehash information (on methodology, potential explanations for the premiums, etc.) contained in our earlier reports on this topic; readers interested in such information are encouraged to download that work from http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/EMS/reports/53587.pdf or http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/54751.pdf. As was the case in the past six AEO releases (AEO 2001-AEO 2006), we once again find that the AEO 2007 reference case gas price forecast falls well below where NYMEX natural gas futures contracts were trading at the time the EIA finalized its gas price forecast. Specifically, the NYMEX-AEO 2007 premium is $0.73/MMBtu levelized over five years. In other words, on average, one would have had to pay $0.73/MMBtu more than the AEO 2007 reference case natural gas price forecast in order to lock in natural gas prices over the coming five years and thereby replicate the price stability provided intrinsically by fixed-price renewable generation (or other forms of generation whose costs are not tied to the price of natural gas). Fixed-price generation (like certain forms of renewable generation) obviously need not bear this added cost, and moreover can provide price stability for terms well in excess of five years.

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  • Report No.: LBNL--62056
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/922717 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 922717
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc894466

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  • December 6, 2006

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Sept. 29, 2016, 7:45 p.m.

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Bolinger, Mark & Wiser, Ryan. Comparison of AEO 2007 Natural Gas Price Forecast to NYMEX FuturesPrices, report, December 6, 2006; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894466/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.