Daily News

As China strives to rekindle its economy, after strict lockdowns in January and February to contain the coronavirus, energy demand slowly recovers. Beijing lowered gas prices for industrial users, but Wood Mackenzies deems it’s insufficient to stir a lost-demand recovery and new coal-to-gas switching.

Australia-listed LNG Ltd, developer of U.S. Magnolia liquefaction plant, faces a financial crunch as a takeover bid by a Singaporean investor has been pushed back to mid-April. Magnolia LNG hence postponed shipment of the first cargo to the Bac Lieu power plant in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Polish utility PGE is adding two gas-fired units, powered by GE’s 9HA.01 gas turbines, to its Dolna Odra power plant. By adding flexible combined-cycle units, PGE gradually converts the 1,832 MW coal-fired plant into a cleaner-burning facility to meet regional emission standards.

Excess LNG supplies from the U.S. and diverted cargoes from Asia Pacific are heading for Europe, swelling gas storage and putting more downward pressure on prices as demand from industry and power generation stays subdued. IHS Markit says Europe's imports could swell to equal the monthly offtake of South Korea and Japan combined.

Stockpiles of domestic U.S. gas production will reach an all-time high in 2020, as drilling companies keep producing record volumes even though the coronavirus crippled domestic demand. Exporting excess LNG is not easy as Europe is in lockdown, but the first US LNG cargo for more than a year is heading for the Chinese port of Tianjin.

Five Singaporean and two Japanese companies have joint forces to utilize hydrogen as a green energy source in Singapore. Sembcorb, Chiyoda and Mitsubishi, among others, committed to develop novel technologies related to the import, transportation and storage of hydrogen.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed Gazprom to proceed to the pre-investment phase for the ‘Power of Siberia 2’ pipeline. Supplies via this route may total up to 50 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y), with the gas set to be brought to western China.

Travel bans, imposed in the United States to contain the coronavirus, have halted commissioning works on energy storage facilities, delayed grid connections and threatens to undermine project economics. Wood Mackenzie expects 31% less behind-the-meter energy storage units will be installed in the U.S. this year.

Rapidly falling oil prices since March 18, when Saudi Arabia started to flood the market, have pulled down seasonal gas and wholesale power prices in the UK. According to Cornwall Insights, Brent crude oil prices plunged over 60% so far in 2020, with seasonal gas and power contracts shedding 32.7% and 21.1%, respectively.

Shutdowns are lifted in China and South Korea, allowing battery supply chains to ramp back up while rivals in Europe and North America are in lockdown. Electric vehicle sales stayed strong through February, according to Wood Mackenzie, and China’s labour force is returning, expected to be at 70% in March and over 90% in April.

Halts in production and collapsing sales have hit Germany’s carmakers at a crucial time of transitioning to electric vehicles. Sales of e-cars are projected to fall by at least 20% this year, impacting electricity demand, while bailouts for manufacturers and suppliers could cost billions of Euros.

French industrial company Eranove is fast-tracking the development of the 390 MW Atinkou combined-cycle power plant in Ivory Coast, having just taken financial close after receiving €303 million in debt financing. Total cost of the CCGT is €404 million, developers disclosed.

News in Brief

Zhonghua’s profits halve

April 1 – Hong Kong-listed Zhonghua Gas Holdings has recorded a staggering 46.7% fall in profit, citing a lower margin for LNG supplies and reduced subsidies, although full-year revenue rose by 7.3%. In December, Zhonghua partnered with Shanghai Shenergy to supply LNG in the Yangtze River Delta region, and also has strong business relationships with Tractebel Engineering and Tianjin Jinre Heat-Supply Group.

Endesa donates $28m to fight coronavirus

March 31 – Endesa has created a 25 million euros ($27.8 million) fund to help fight the coronavirus pandemic in Spain. The Spanish utility, subsidiary of Enel, said the fund will be designated for purchases of protective equipment for health-care workers.

 

MAN develops liquid methane terminal in Swedish port

March 30 – OxGas has commissioned MAN Energy Solutions to act as ‘owners engineer’ to develop and build a liquefied methane-based fuels terminal in the Swedish Port of Oxelösund. The terminal will feed both LNG and green methane derived from bio gas to SSAB ’s local steel production, and to re-distribute it via train and trailers to other parts of Sweden for use in the steel industry and decentralized power generation.

American ISOs to delay grid investments

March 27 – North America’s independent system operators (ISO) are considering delaying investments in grid upgrades and enhancement as electricity demand weakens due to industry shutdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic. PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. bulk power market which spans 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states, revised its daily forecast of about 100,000 MW of load but actual demand came in at 95,500 MW.

Wärtsilä starts combustion trials using ammonia

March 26 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has initiated combustion trials using ammonia in an effort to reduce emissions. Based on initial results, the tests will be continued on both dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines, followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners from 2022, and potentially also with energy customers.

Xodus sees growth in cable services

March 25 – Xodus Group has stepped up services related to subsea power cables over the last twelve months. The number of new consulting assignments grew by more than 50%, resulting in more than 70 active work streams that are handled by more 30 permanent staff.

Electricity “more indispensible than ever”

March 24 – Disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis lay bare how much modern societies rely on electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IAE). Millions of people are mandated to stay home, causing a surge in teleworking, e-commerce and video streaming which pushes up domestic electricity use.

U.S. frackers cut Capex

March 23 – Sharp cuts in capital spending among Appalachian gas producers are now being replicated in other U.S. basis, with Energy Aspects anticipating the deepest impact on production and earnings to take place starting from the second half of 2020. So far, E&P companies just hedged 52% of this year’s expected production even though some Appalachian producers are seen “lock in some pure gas volumes at prices above the curve.”

EV makers face bankrupcy

March 20 – Electric vehicles (EVs) remain particularly exposed to the corona effect of supply-side constraints and demand erosion. Gigafactory facilities are likely to be delayed and fledging EV manufacturers could face bankruptcy, Wood Mackenzie warns. On the flip side, declines in EV sector demand may be gains for the stationary energy storage segment.

Manufacturing rebounds in Asia

March 19 – Asian-dominant supply chains for solar and energy storage are gradually rebounding after contractions in February. Moving forward, Wood Mackenzie expects near-term development activity and local logistics in leading European and North American markets will outweigh lingering supply issues.

Italy’s gas demand plunges

March 18 – Corona-struck Italy has seen demand for natural gas plunge 8% from the previous week, with similar declines likely in other EU countries as national governments impose lockdowns to contain the virus. Industrial demand is “particularly volatile,” while gas generators will bear the brunt of demand loss, Wood Mackenzie says, as a carbon price decline is bolstering thermal coal.

Nexif raises funds for Rayong CHP

March 17 – Nexif Energy, a joint venture between Singapore-based Nexif and Denham Capital, has raised project financing for the Rayong gas-fired cogeneration project in Thailand. The 92 MW plant is being developed project with Ratch Group, based on 25-year power purchase agreement with Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

ADB provides $10m loan for Afghan IPP

March 16 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide $10 million in debt financing for a gas-fired power unit in Mazari Sharif with a capacity of nearly 60 MW. Phase-1 of the Independent Power Project (IPP) will get another $10 million loan from the Leading Asia's Private Sector Infrastructure Fund (LEAP).

IEA models 50% Carbon-Free Generation

March 13 – Analysts at the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) have drawn up the 50% Carbon-Free Generation case - assuming a stark shift in state-level policies. In this event, the U.S. would have 19% more nuclear power generation, 10% more wind power and 17% more solar PV contribution than in its Annual Energy Outlook 2020 (AEO2020) reference case.

E-charging market to top $15bn by 2030

March 12 – By 2030, the U.S. market for energy-optimisation in support of charging electric-vehicles could be worth $15 billion per year, McKinsey finds. The consultancy expects high demand for home-charging appliances as residential power tariffs are comparatively cheap and most charging can happen overnight when off-peak electricity prices are lower.

Oversupply builds up

March 10 – Energy Aspects’ end-March forecast has added on another 100+ billion cubic feet of natural gas supply while demand remains subdued. In the U.S., the seasonal decline in heating degree days nearly halved the natural gas withdrawal rate. Gas-burn in the power sector and residential/commercial demand are forecast to fall by 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) and 4.0 bcf/d, respectively.

Small-scale LNG cuts cost for power plants

March 10 – Decentralized gas power plants in remote locations can source cheaper fuel from small-scale LNG regas terminals than from trucking the super-chilled gas across long distances. “Trucking LNG further inland would entail additional costs as well as logistical challenges,” IEA analysts noted. For example, a 100 MW baseload power plant would require, on average, around 20 daily deliveries from tanker trucks.