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Texas’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is bracing for another bitter cold cycle that could disrupt natural gas power plants.

The National Weather Service (NWS) predicts temperatures in parts of Lone Star State will drop on Thursday and affect natgas flows to power generators.

The second round of cold air comes as the first blast of arctic air paralyzed several gas wells, processing plants and other equipment to transfer natural gas to electricity generators. As a result, around 10% of natgas production went offline for 48 hours. It was the most significant outage to the network since the state’s infamous February 2021 close to the collapse of the electricity grid.

On Thursday, temperatures in Midland, Texas, the Permian Basin’s oil and gas field, will be around 18 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 15 degrees below average for this time of year.

“Gas wells are particularly susceptible to so-called freezing due to the high volumes of groundwater that typically flow out of the ground along with the fuel. Wind installations can also be taken out of service by intense cold while cloudy weather and snow interrupt the production of solar energy “, Bloomberg he said.

“It is important to remember, however, as we have consistently stated, that some variations in production occur with sudden changes in temperature – these are field operations, not factory controlled settings,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association , said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, ERCOT submitted a report to state regulators in which it pointed out that most of its generation units comply with the new wintering rules following last year’s electricity grid problems. The grid operator found that ten of the 302 inspected generators did not meet the new requirements for surviving a winter storm. Weather-sensitive generators represent a total capacity of 532 megawatts or approximately 0.4% of the ERCOT generation.

“The Texas power grid is better prepared for winter operations than ever,” said Brad Jones, interim CEO of ERCOT, in a statement. The units examined by ERCOT contribute approximately 85% of the power to the state network.

As Texas and much of the United States brace for a cooler second half of January, Henry Hub natgas prices have been in crisis in recent weeks due to prospects for colder weather and snowstorms in the eastern half. of the United States.

“Winter is the key catalyst for gas, with prospects in line with our reserved vision. However, the weather is volatile and the softer production of well frosts can help. Benchmarks in the $ 4 range are consistent with our view, ”Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Vincent Piazza and Evan Lee said.

“If we were to experience another severe winter storm before operators altered their equipment, the network could be at risk again,” said Virginia Palacios, executive director of the Commission Shift oversight group.

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