Strikingly, South Korea’s year-to-date LNG demand has risen by over 4 million tons – contrary to expectations it would fall. Yet very little of this demand strength comes from the power sector; according to Energy Aspects, Korea’s LNG appetite this year has been more down to expansion of LNG import facilities with players having bought cheap spot cargoes on spec and put the gas into storage.
Alarmed about the scale of gas shortages in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering restrictions on LNG exports from Australia’s eastern coast. Santos, Shell and ConocoPhillips have been urged to help plug an estimated shortfall of up to 17% of market demand in 2018.
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.”
South Korea’s sole gas importer Kogas is taking steps to source LNG at cheaper prices through its proprietary gas production. "We need to shift away from a conventional supply method of bringing LNG under high-priced long-term contracts from overseas,” CEO Lee Seung-hoon stressed.
Ongoing reforms of Mexico’s electricity industry have been drawing attention from projects developers. The latest series of price spikes of intra-day wholesale power prices, and prospects of a gradual liberalisation of retail power prices, render fast-ramp gas power projects even more attractive.
Unsubsidized renewable spot prices in many markets are now equal to or below gas power prices, prompting substantial changes in generation requirements. “We are in the midst of transition to a new energy paradigm and this implies consequences for traditional generation. The first need is a much higher efficiency for all plants along with greater flexibility,” Enrico Viale, Enel Group’s head of global thermal generation said at the opening of Power-Gen Europe in Milan today.
Softer than expected storage withdrawals have conjured up more bearish sentiment to drive the Henry Hub spot gas price back under the $2/MMBtu threshold. With not that many weeks left in the withdrawal season, analysts at Societe Generale expect that “the exit [in March] will inevitably be very strong,” although at a level lower than the 2012-record.
US spot gas prices at Henry Hub are forecast to rise through much of 2016, spurred by rising industrial consumption and moderate supply growth due to falling rig counts. Starting into 2016 near $2/MMBtu, Henry Hub spot prices will rebound to $2.65/MWh, according to EIA estimates.
Wholesale gas prices in China will be reduced by 25% from today, the second price cut this year, as the government aims to prop up the sluggish growth in demand from utilities and industries for the cleaner-burning fuel. Regulators permit a 20% upward float in prices, while giving no downward limit.
Feb 10 – A survey of 200 energy experts published by the Centre for European Economic Research shows that German power prices are expected to rise over the next five years from their low levels in November 2014, when the German Phelix spot for baseload power averaged €36.37/MWh. However, two thirds of the survey participants expect German power prices to stagnate over the next six months.