The 2014 outlook for thermal, renewable and oil and gas projects is stable, according to a Fitch Ratings report.
'Increasingly, natural gas is driving the North American energy sector. As gas is the current fuel on the margin and benchmark for some power contracts, any dramatic shifts in the gas market will impact the rest of the sector. Coal retirements, limitations on hydraulic fracturing, and the proliferation of gas exports facilities could drive prices higher,' said Greg Remec, Senior Director. 'On the other hand, continuing increases in drilling efficiency and pipeline infrastructure enhancements could increase gas supply in the market, further suppressing prices.'
Thermal power projects enjoy steady expected cash flow from mostly natural-gas fired projects, supported by fixed-price revenue contracts that protect against volatile market pricing. Longer-term, more stringent emissions regulations are likely to erode operating cash flow disproportionally for solid-fuel thermal facilities absent contractual provisions that shield projects from compliance costs.
Renewable projects benefit from long-term revenue contracts, though some are without fixed pricing, leaving projects exposed to volatility in market prices. Projects with sufficient contractual protections against price and volume risks should remain stable over the long term.
Oil and gas projects are supported by contractual protections, parent guarantees, and strong market positions. A variety of gas-to-liquids projects are also emerging in the pipeline in response to projections for continued low gas prices. Since many projects will take several years to build, near-term stability will depend on the mitigation of completion risks rather than operation or market-based risks.
Source: Business Wire
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