Texas is in crisis right now, as millions of Texans are still without power after the state’s power grid collapsed amid winter storms that caused a deep freeze. At one point, nearly 5 million Texans were without power and that number is still over 2.5 million as of Wednesday afternoon, as the Texas energy infrastructure fell apart after plants had to be shut down due to the freeze. Because Texas removed itself from the national power grid to avoid federal regulation, they were unable to borrow power.
While there have been numerous deaths due to the freezing temperatures and blackouts, what has become a humanitarian crisis has not stopped those in the energy business from capitalizing on the situation. Dallas Cowboys owner and billionaire Jerry Jones’ natural gas company, Comstock Resources Inc., has been surging prices for fuel due to the shortage as it is able to pull from wells in East Texas and northern Louisiana, selling at premium prices because of other fuel plants having to shut down — including natural gas plants in other parts of the state.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the spikes in the cost of gas from the hubs that are still working, including Jones’, have spiked at a ridiculous rate due to shortages, which Comstock’s CFO Roland Burns said was “like hitting the jackpot.”
“This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices,” Burns said. “Frankly, we were able to sell at super premium prices for a material amount of production.”
At the Henry Hub in Louisiana, the delivery benchmark for futures in New York, spot gas traded at $20 or higher on Wednesday morning, according to two traders. That compares with a settlement of $16.13 on Tuesday and just $3.73 a week ago.
Supply for next-day delivery at the Oneok Gas Transportation hub in Oklahoma traded at $1,250 per million British thermal units on Wednesday, according to David Hoy, a trader at Dynasty Power in Calgary. That’s up from $999 on Tuesday, and just $9 a week ago.
It is unsurprising that this crisis has been used as another opportunity to squeeze as much money out of the situation as possible by those in the energy business. Most of those are rather anonymous incredibly rich people to the general population, but in Jones’ case, he’s about as well-known as any billionaire in the country. As such, as the many in Texas who support his Cowboys learn that he was profiting off of their misery during blackouts, we’ll see what backlash comes his way, although he likely won’t care.