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Integrating North America’s abundant shale gas resources into global markets keeps prices subdued: NBP averaged at $10/mmBtu in 2011-14 and by 2016 lost more than half of its value, hovering around $4.63/mmBtu. According to Societe Generale analysis, natural gas is now in a unique position to help regions transition away from coal- and oil-fuelled power generation.

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Excess growth in global LNG supply, notably through the ramp-up of US LNG through 2018 and into 2019, will make European gas prices “move through the coal floor [price]”. Fuel-switching in the Western European power market, according to Societe Generale, will ultimately be determined by short-term gas prices hinging at the variable cost of shipping a US LNG cargo to Europe.

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Natural gas-fuelled power generation in the United States reached its highest daily level at 41 Bcf/day on July 20 – just a tick lower than the 2016 peak of 42 Bcf/d seen on August 11 last year.  Higher gas prices relative to last summer explain part of the decrease; but PointLogic Energy analysts stressed that “although power burn in 2017 is lower than in 2016, it is still relatively high compared with the previous five-year average for that period.”

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May 02 – With Henry Hub having stayed just below the fuel switching trigger of 3.08 $/mmbtu (7,100 gas vs 10,300 coal) during the past week, Energy Aspects forecast that gas prices in the Northeast and Midwest, “should see support this week on maintenance-related output cuts and colder Midwest temperatures.” Analysts also said in a note that “Henry Hub should also see limited support from the dip in output this week, as well as a slightly more constructive weather forecast for May.”

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Shale oil and gas production from the Appalachian Basin's Utica play has hit 3.5 Bcf/d this June, jumping from very low levels of 0.1 Bcf/d in December 2012. The surge in output from the vast Utica play keeps a lid on US natural gas prices and incentivise more power station operators to shift from coal to gas. The capacity factor for CCGTs has risen to 56% and is expected to increase further.

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Gas demand from the US power sector has been coming down from peak summer levels as the heat wave gradually abates, ending the need to tap gas storage. Analysts at Energy Aspects see gas burns for power over the two-week period ending August 12 averaging around 37.5 bcf/d, up by a modest 0.7 bcf/d year-on-year.

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As natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) are sourced from gas production streams or in association with crude oil production, future NGPL production largely depends on the price differential between oil and natural gas. EIA analysts anticipate a significant rise in liquid fuel production beyond 2017.

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As the heat wave in Central and Eastern US eases, gas demand from the power sector is tapering off. Energy Aspects forecasts gas-burn for power over the first two weeks of August to average around 38 Bcf/d while Henry Hub cash prices are seen “stabilising at levels just above the fuel switching price trigger that now sits at 2.73 $/mmBtu.”

Published in Markets
Monday, 18 July 2016

US fuel switching

Jul 18 – With Henry Hub now near 2.77 $/mmBtu, prices have softened from the last fuel switching trigger of 2.99 $/mmbtu (6,300 gas vs 11,300 coal), Energy Aspects said in a note. “Pricing more gas into merit over coal,” would be achievable at the next major fuel switching level seen at 2.59 $/mmbtu (7,500 gas vs 10,000 coal). For comparison, CSX August delivery coal prices rose slightly w/w, at 38 $/t.

Published in Brief news

With exports of pipeline gas to Mexico on the rise, and LNG exports from Louisiana ramping up, the United States is forecast to become a net exporter of natural gas by the second half of next year. "For the first time since 1957, the United States is on track to export more natural gas than it imports,” commented said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. Yet, the spread widens between Marcellus spot and Henry Hub gas prices.

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News in Brief

Pemex orders GE’s TM2500 for refinery

Oct 19 – While recovery efforts continue in Mexico after the recent earthquake, GE Power and its partner APR Energy will supply Pemex with TM2500 mobile power plant solutions for refinery some 5km northeast of the city of Salina Cruz. Operations of the refinery will benefit from nearly 70 MW of urgent power generation as regular supply via the national grid is being restored.

Surging energy use in India’s buildings

Oct 18 – India is forecast to see the fastest growth in building energy consumption through 2040. In the IEO2017 Reference case, delivered energy consumption for residential and commercial buildings in India is expected to increase by an average of 2.7% per year between 2015 and 2040, more than twice the global average increase.

Dong to remotely operate UK peaking plants

Oct 17 – Denmark’s Dong Energy has agreed with GAM Capital and its project development arm in the UK, Gas Power Developments, to manage the remote control and market optimization of three 6 MW gas power stations. The three gas peaking plants are Prestige House, Newhouse and Clay Flatts, located in Lancashire and Cumbria.

'Generation Energy' debate launched in Canada

Oct 16 – ‘Generation Energy’ has been kickstarted at a forum in Winnipag as a society-wide debate on the pathways to an affordable, low-carbon energy future for Canada. The share of renewables in Canada’s power mix exceeded 65% last year, with 90% of the total derived from hydropower. Prior to the event, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr met bilaterally with IEA head Dr Fatih Birol to provide input to Canada’s Presidency of the G7 in 2018.

MHPS starts manufacturing turbines in Dammam

Oct 13 – MHPS Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, has opened its new Turbine Rotor Repair Facility in Dammam today. The Japanese manufacturer announced plans to plans to manufacture its most advanced gas turbines in the Saudi kingdom, and use the new facility to service compressors and turbines used in petroleum and chemical plants.

Azura-Edo IPP to startup 8 months early

Oct 12 – Azura Power Holdings has announced that its 450 MW Auzura-Edo Independent Power Project (IPP) will be ready to start operations eight months ahead of schedule. First fire is planned in December this year, for commissioning to be finalised for a start-up in May 2018.

Evaluating GT owners take on dry air injection

Oct 11 – Sargent & Lundy has been hired by gas turbine (GT) owners to analyze the impact of Turbophase dry air injection system at different site conditions. Turbophase installed on multiple gas turbine frames over the past years, clocking up thousands of run-time hours.

Gas turbine market tops $24bn by 2022

Oct 10 – The global market for gas turbine is growing at an annual rate of 5.3% to reach $24.12 billion by 2020, according to htfmarketreport. Increasing demand distributed power generation, technology advancement, and more stringent regulations on carbon emissions are fuelling the market growth.

Trump nominates pro-coal lawyer as EPA deputy

Oct 9 – US President Donald Trump has nominated Andrew R. Wheeler, a lawyer whose clients include the coal mining firm Murry Energy, as the deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler opposes Obama’s Clean Power Plan and supported the US coal industry’s opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Tokyo Engineering to finish new Azeri CCGT by May 2018

Oct 6 – Japan’s Tokyo Engineering Corp is building a new combined-cycle gas power unit at the Shimal power plant in Baku. The 409-MW unit is schedule to start full commercial operation in May 2018. Project costs, estimated to exceed $330 million, are partly covered by a $275 million loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Spain’s gas demand up 13% in September

Oct 5 – Demand for natural gas in Spain has increased by 13% to 26,153 GWh in September, the highest level in the past five years. Gas-burn in the power sector was up 44% month-on-month, reaching 7,085 GWh.

Capstone to deliver C1000s to Italy

Oct 4 – Capstone Turbine Corp has received an order for a C1000 Signature Series microturbine to provide combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) for a large cured meat company in Veneto, Italy. IBT Group, Capstone’s Italian distributor, secured the order for the plant, which is due to be commissioned in early 2018.

Marubeni invests in biomass co-fired plant

Oct 3 – Marubeni Thermal Power has signed a shareholder agreement with Tokuyama and Tokyo Century Corp to invest in the latter’s the construction and operation of a biomass co-firing power project in Shunan City. Preparation for construction works are getting underway this month, for a start of commercial operation in 2022.

Puerto Rico powered by fuel oil in the wake of Hurricane Maria

Oct 2 – Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is busy trying to restart power plants as well as transmission and distribution lines after Hurricane Maria hit the island earlier this month. In the absence of firm natural gas supply, PREA turned to Puma Energy to purchase fuel oil for emergency power generators.

Wärtsilä helps boost offgrid power in India

Sept 29 – Wärtsilä’s Indian office is supporting Arkay Energy (Rameswarm) to boost electrical output and productivity of its 150 MW baseload power plant in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, in southern India. An O&M deal for the plant's 16 Wärtsilä 34SG engines was renewed in June 2017 for another five years.

GE builds Turkey’s largest generator transformer at Gebze

Sept 28 – TERNA, the construction arm of GEK TERNA Group, has asked GE to manufacture what will become the Turkey’s largest generator transformer. The 820 MVA is being built in Gebze and scheduled for completion in mid-2018, when it will be installed at the Ptolemais power plant in Greece.

PowerLink IP launched

Sept 27 – Siemens has launched PowerLink IP, a power line carrier (PLC) for digital high-voltage substations. It uses the high-voltage lines between the substations as a channel by overlaying a modulated carrier frequency on the frequency of the transmission voltage in the overhead lines.