Unit 2 at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar nuclear reactor site in Rhea County, Tennessee has completed six out of seven required power ascension tests and is in the process of powering up for its last testing phase which will take it to 100% power for the first time since reaching initial criticality back on May 23. As part of the final commissioning phase, several tests will be run on the unit's control systems while operating at the 100% plateau after which the unit will power down one last time before re-powering to officially begin commercial operations later this summer. At 1,270 MW, Watts Bar 2 will displace up to 250 MMcf/d of power burn demand in the Southeast region for which demand for natural gas fired generation has averaged 9.4 Bcf/d this year. After reaching first criticality back in May, Watts Bar 2 first produced power on June 3 when it synced with the grid for the first time, and initiated the approximately 3 month operational testing phase before commercial operation could begin. Once commercially operational, Watts Bar Units 1 and 2 will generate enough power combined to supply over 1.3 million households in the TVA service territory.
PDC Energy said at the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit in Denver Tuesday that the company was able to grow production by 60% last year and are growing it by another 40% this year. PDC holds more than 100,000 acres in the Niobrara Basin and it currently has three rigs deployed in Colorado where well returns are stronger. Bentek currently estimates that IRRs in the Denver-Julesburg are about 13% and break-even costs are about $33/b. The company also stated that only three active rigs in the Wattenburg field for PDC provide the same number of completions per month as eight rigs did several years ago. If additional companies are experiencing similar well economics, it could provide an upside risk to near-term associated gas production in the Rockies, currently estimated to average 8.1 Bcf/d through the end of the year.
Sample deliveries from NGPL and Tennessee Gas Transmission, in addition to implied deliveries from NET Mexico interconnects and all other interstate pipelines in Texas, indicate that Los Ramones Phase II might have come into service in mid-July. Bentek observed sample deliveries to the NET Mexico pipeline rise to an average of 780 MMcf/d for a period of 12 days starting on July 19, an average 40 MMcf/d (5%) build over the prior 30 days. Over the same period, intrastate pipelines which interconnect with NET Mexico saw total deliveries to other pipelines in Texas fall to 1,250 MMcf/d, a 230 MMcf/d (15%) deviation from the prior 30 days, suggesting that intrastate pipelines may have been diverted to NET Mexico. The average deviation over the period was around 270 MMcf/d. However, flows appear to have moderated since July 30, possibly indicating that the expansion has temporarily shut in for testing or maintenance. No official announcement has been made, but sample flows seem to indicate that partial, interrupted service may have begun.