Raymond James & Associates Inc. anticipates a flood of liquids production growth—the good kind, not the Hurricane Harvey kind—in the 2017-2019 time frame.

U.S. liquids output should increase by more than 3 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d), the analysts said in a research note, with 25% of that total represented by NGL. And it wouldn’t be possible, the analysts said, without NGL supply growth of 900,000 barrels per day (Mbbl/d).

“NGL production growth fits right alongside our bullish production/volume outlook for crude oil and natural gas—and is a key component of our bullish stance on the embattled midstream space,” said Raymond James.

That’s about as welcome as a burst of fresh spring-like weather to break up the pollen assault and slew of nor’easters.

Raymond James’ optimistic U.S. liquids growth estimate is about 20% above consensus and the analysts are bullish about the price outlook as well.

“Increasing base decline rates will begin to eat away at annual crude oil production growth over the next five years,” they said. “Comparatively, NGL production growth rates could hold up a bit better thanks to increased ethane recovery.”

The three months that constituted fourth-quarter 2017 were “the three highest months of NGL production of all time!” the analysts noted, deploying an analytically atypical exclamation point.

Production during that time was about 4 MMbbl/d, which was about 15% higher than the same period a year earlier.

Raymond James sees ethane as ready to claim the spotlight in 2018 and 2019 as demand centers pop up:

  • 180 Mbbl/d of cracking capacity added in 2017;
  • 210 Mbbl/d coming online this year;
  • 250 Mbbl/d of added capacity scheduled for 2019; and
  • A second wave of Gulf Coast capacity in development spoken about for the next decade, with about 375 Mbbl/d well along in development.

The forecast for 2018 is a 19% year-over-year growth in ethane recovery to 1.7 MMbbl/d. That will be followed by a 10% step up to 1.9 MMbbl/d in 2019 and a jump to 2.5 MMbbl/d in 2020, says Raymond James.