Daily News

Dry natural gas production in the United States is about to reach a fresh record of 81 Bcf per day, spurring LNG export growth and pushing down prices this year. According to the U.S. Energy Agency (EIA), Henry Hub prices are forecast to average $2.99/MMBtu for the full year 2018, but notch up to $3.08/MMBtu in 2019.

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Competition is fierce for nuclear power in the United States as energy mix is being transformed by comparatively cheap natural gas, rising supply of renewable energy, and limited growth in overall electricity demand. Sensitivity analysis in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018 (AEO2018) show the potential effect on the U.S. nuclear power fleet of different assumption for reactor operating cost, future gas prices and carbon policies.

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Dry natural gas production in the United States is forecast to reach a new record of 80.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up from 73.6 Bcf/d in the previous year. According to the EIA’s latest Short-term Energy Outlook (STEO), the rise in US natural gas production will help replenish storage levels from current lows and support increasing natural gas exports, both via pipeline to Mexico and in the form of LNG.

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Dry natural gas production in the United States will keep growing over the next three decades, driven by demand from the industrial and electric power sectors. Beyond 2020, production is likely to grow faster than consumption, according to the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2018, with excess volumes to be exported to Mexico or sold on global LNG markets.

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The February 2018 futures contract for natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) is trading at a discount to the current spot price. This pricing pattern provides economic incentives to withdraw natural gas from storage to avoid exposure to the spot market.

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Mexico, the largest offtaker of US pipeline gas and LNG importer from Peru, Nigeria and the US, is getting ready to launch an online gas trading platform by the summer of this year, at the latest. The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned grid operator, also plans to set up several gas pricing points. “We'll have Henry Hub, too, as that's what we now have,” said Javier Gutierrez Becerril, director of operations at CFE Energy.

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Low-cost of natural gas has allowed it to stay the dominant source of power generation in the United States for the second year in a row. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that gas-fired power plants covered an average of 32% of total U.S. electricity needs in 2017, compared with 30% from coal power plants.

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Spurred by rising gas demand from the electric power sector, industry and LNG exporters, US dry natural gas production is forecast to rise by an average of 80.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, up 6.9 Bcf/d or 9.3% on the 2017 level which would be the highest increase on record, according to EIA figures. A more moderate 3.2% rise of 2.6 Bcf/d is expected for 2019.

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Freezing temperatures have crippled the energy infrastructure in New England for the past 10 days, sending prices for natural gas and fuel oil soaring. After a winter storm brought down a large nuclear plant, gas prices skyrocketed and operators turned on some oil-fired power stations. Managing the region’s power system “continues to be challenging,” the ISO New England grid operator warned, noting that some oil-fired generators were “quickly depleting their fuel supply”.

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A rebound in crude oil and petroleum product prices has caused a 16% rise of the spot energy index in the Standard and Poor's (S&P) Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) at year-end, after the index fell nearly 20% in the first half of the past year. 

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News in Brief

GE risks €35m fine in France

June 19 – French government officials said GE will have to pay penalties if it fails to realise its pledge to create 1,000 jobs in France by the end of this year. GE made the promise in 2014 as part of the €12.4 billion takeover of Alstom’s power generation and grid business. "The contract called for a 50,000 euro penalty for every job not created," France’s labour minister Muriel Penicaud told BFM television.

MAN to deliver engines to Oman LNG

June 18 – Oman LNG is seeking to develop a new gas engine-driven power plant at its Qalhat facilities. MAN Diesel and Turbo will deliver the gas engines and associated equipment, while KBR will manage the project execution, supply the generators and ensure safety requirements.

CHP market to top $27bn by 2023

June 15 – Global market for combined heat and power is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 5.48% to reach $20.69 billion in 2018 and $27.01 billion by 2023. According to Markets and Markets, the main growth drivers are demand for energy efficiency and government incentives and programs to promote CHP.

Enel starts battery storage in the UK

June 14 – Enel Group’s first utility-scale, stand-alone battery energy storage - the 25 MW/12.5 MWh Tynemouth project - is about to start operations, supported by a four-year contract with British System Operator National Grid to provide grid-balancing services. Enel bought the storage venture from Element Power in May 2017, and invested about 20 million Euros in the overall project, including construction.

New Mach Gen files for bankruptcy

June 13 – U.S. power generator New Mach Gen has filed for bankruptcy, presenting a pre-packaged reorganisation plan. New Mach Gen operates three gas-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 2,500 MW in Athens, NY, Maricopa County, Arizona and Charlton, Massachusetts.

Siemens, Covestro partner on digitalization

June 12 – Siemens and Covestro Deutschland have agreed a Joint Business Development Plan that reinforces their longstanding, trust-based partnership in the field of digitalization. Siemens is developing predictive process data models for manufacturing through the use of its cloud-based IoT operating system, MindSphere, while Covestro will introduce its process technology and production expertise to generate joint marketing solutions.

U.S. hurricane season underway

June 11 – With June 1 marking the official start of the 2018 hurricane season in the United States, Dominion Energy has urged customers to prepare and emergency storm kit. The Virginia-based utility is continuing day-to-day preparations for a busy storm season.

EIA broadens energy survey

June 8 – For electricity, the number of end-uses estimated in the EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) has expanded from 4 to 26 by adding estimates for various types of equipment. Itemized estimates collectively cover 87% of residential electricity use.

Cost-effective transition towards CHP

June 7 – COGEN Europe, an industry lobby group, has underlined the sector’s commitment to a “cost-effective transition towards a sustainable future in Europe” by means of utilizing combined heat and power generation. CHP provides flexibility across heat, electricity and gas networks and sectors by relying on short, medium and long-term storage to balance energy supply and demand.

Europe’s largest battery operational

June 6 – With a capacity of 48 MW/50 MWh, Europe’s largest battery EnspireME has been in operation since the beginning of this month. Located in Jardelund, northern Germany, the battery will be used as a backup by the local grid operator and participate in the weekly auction of primary reserve capacity. It was built by the Dutch utility Eneco and Japan's Mitsubishi in eight months.

BlueVault powers offshore operations

June 5 – Siemens is applying its electrification experience in the marine industry to offshore oil and gas, focussing on reducing emissions and risk in harsh operational environments. BlueVault, Siemens’ advanced lithium-ion battery-based solution, is suited for both all-electric and hybrid energy-storage applications.

Duke Energy opens new CCGT unit at Lee Station

June 4 – U.S. utility Duke Energy has been continuously operating its new 750 MW combined-cycle gas power unit at the W.S. Lee Station in Anderson County, South Carolina, since the beginning of June. Construction of the $700 million gas power unit started in March 2015, creating more than 600 construction jobs. Now fully operational, the CCGT is expected to generate about $4.4 million in tax revenue for Anderson County in 2019.

Reliability risk in California, Texas

June 1 – California and Texas are two potential tight spots for reliability of electricity this summer, even as most regions seem prepared to meet peak summer demand, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notes. In its 2018 energy market and reliability assessment, the regulator predicts warmer than average temperatures which could stir record high gas-burn for power generation.

Siemens to roll-out energy monitoring system at Rexel

May 31 – Electrical wholesaler Rexel Austria has placed an order with Siemens to deliver a cloud-based energy monitoring system which is meant to achieve a 15% reduction in energy use at its logistics center in Weisskirchen. Siemens’ cope of supply includes 66 communication-capable 7KM PAC 1500 and 7KM PAC 4200 power measuring devices, powermanager energy monitoring software, and connection to its cloud-based operating system MindSphere.

MHI calls off tie-up with JTEKT

May 30 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has discontinued talks to form a business partnership with JTEKT Corp after both parties terminated a basic partnership, agreed in December 2017 together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool (MAT) that included capital participation in JTEKT. All these plans have now been abandoned.

Sembcorp hires Contact Energy CFO

May 29 – Singapore-based Sembcorp has hired Contact Energy CFO Graham Cockroft to be its new CFO as of September 3, 2018. Sembcorp’s current CFO, Koh Chiap Khiong has moved on to head of the group’s utilities business in Singapore, Southeast Asia and China.

UK remains net electricity importer

May 25 – Great Britain remains a net importer of electricity via interconnectors at peak times in all of National Grid’s 2018 Future Energy Scenarios (FES). The UK grid operator consequently assumes and supports an expansion of the island’s interconnector capacity to reach up to 20 GW by 2050.