Natural gas exports from the United States to Mexico are seen rise by 40% with the completion of the southern-most segment of the Wahalajara system, also known as the Villa de Reyes-Aguascalientes-Guadalajara (VAG) pipeline. The 0.89 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) pipeline entered service this June.

Shanghai Electric Power has made a fresh and slightly improved offer to K-Electric to acquire 66.4% of its shareholding. Arif Habib Ltd, the local bidding manager of Shanghai Electric, specified his client wants to buy up to 18.336 billion of K-Electric’s total issued shares.

Rumours of a Chinese takeover of the British multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce are circulating once again. In a statement, the company confirmed it is in “early stages of reviewing options to strengthen its balance sheet,” though no decisions have been made.

Dominion Energy has struck a $9.7 billion deals to sell its gas transmission and gas storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy, owned by the U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffet. As part of the transaction, Berkshire Hathaway will acquire 25% of the Cove Point LNG plant in Maryland.

Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have increased U.S. residential electricity use substantially in April through June. The sector would have used 3.1 million MWh of electricity per day in April, as per the previous five years, but in April 2020 demand was 3.3 million or about 6% higher.

Indonesia’s LNG imports are expected to be resilient against the coronavirus-led global economic downturn. Wood Mackenzie says import volumes could hit 3.1 million tonnes in the second half of 2020, rising 1.2 million tonnes or 63% year-on-year.

Black Bear Transmission has agreed to acquire six intrastate natural gas pipelines spanning approximately 1,400 miles in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi from a subsidiary of Third Coast Midstream. The transaction marks Black Bear’s second bolt-on acquisition, having bought the Ozark system from Enbridge in April 2020.

Natural gas spot prices at the U.S. Henry Hub have fallen to historic lows despite rising gas-burn for power generation. Production keeps exceeding demand, with feedgas for liquefaction and export at low levels of around 4.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) so far in June and storages filling fast.

Cargo cancellations mount at US liquefaction terminals amid dwindling LNG prices, particularly in Europe. Analysts at Energy Aspects say forward prices at the TTF have fallen so low that it is now more economic for Asian buyers to reload European cargoes than to dip into the US spot market.

Energy demand in the UK has started to recover from a 15-20% plunge, incurred by coronavirus lockdowns. According to Cornwall Insight, transmission system electricity demand rose to just below 0.64 TWh on Friday, June 19, but is still below the 0.70 TWh recorded in 2019 on similar days in late June. 

Myanmar has become the newest LNG importing country when a cargo from Malaysia was delivered to a temporary jetty at Thilawa port on June 6. A second Malay cargo is now on route, headed to a larger jetty that will be able to accommodate regular-sized FSU vessels starting from July.

Falling gas prices have substantially improved the economics of coal-to-gas switching, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds. Still, nearly 130 Gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity was under construction at the start of 2020, and a further 500 GW in a planning phase but may now be at risk.

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News in Brief

Siemens and GREEN Solar turn German town CO2-free

July 8 – GREEN Solar and Siemens Energy are jointly developing a concept for making Herzogenrath CO2-free. The plan is to provide an energy-efficient and economical combination of solar power plants, wind turbines, batteries, CHP and combined cycle power plants, as well as heat and hydrogen storage. The hybrid system will be built on the grounds of Nivelsteiner Sandwerke and will be large enough to cover the city’s entire energy demand with zero CO2 emissions by 2030.

Denmark paves the way for Nord Stream 2

July 7– Denmark on late Monday gave the Nord Stream 2 consortium permission to utilize pipe-laying vessels with anchors in Danish waters, paving the way for the Gazprom-led consortium to complete the interconnector. Construction of the 1,230-kilometre pipeline is nearly complete, except for a final stretch of about 120-kilometers in Danish waters. The project was halted in December when the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying company Allseas suspended works over threats of U.S. sanctions.

EPRI tests early warning system

July 6– The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting trial tests with multiple utilities across the United States of an early warning system. It can detect an off-gassing event as a precursor to thermal runaway up to 30 minutes prior to a cascading failure. This gives plant operators time to mitigate the problem or shut down the system.

KKR buys stake in First Gen

July 3 – Valorous Asia Holdings, owned by KKR investment funds, has bought a 11.9% stake in First Gen through a voluntary tender offer. First Gen, one of the Philippines’ largest independent power producers with 3,492 MW installed capacity, is owned by First Philippine Holdings which is controlled by the Lopez family. KKR’s acquisition of the First Gen stake is worth nearly $192.3 million.

Gazprom’s ‘BBB’ rating affirmed

July 2 – S&P Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have affirmed Gazprom's long-term credit ratings as part of their annual reviews. The ‘BBB’ ratings for Gazprom from S&P and Fitch are in line with the sovereign credit rating of the Russian Federation, while Moody's ‘Baa2’ rating is a notch higher.

MHIEC to refurbish WtE plant in Kushiro

July 1 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chemical Engineering Co (MHIEC) has received an order from the Kushiro Wide-Area Federation to repair and improve the core equipment at the local Waste-to-Energy plant in Takayama. The WtE plant has a capacity of 240 tonnes per day (tpd). Renovation will increase the energy efficiency of the fluidized bed type gasification and ash melting furnace facility, reducing emissions by around 15% annually. Works are due completed in September 2023.

Nigeria: Only two of six power projects on target

June 30 – Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises has disclosed that only two out of six privatized power plants were delivered on target. Only Transcorp Power Ltd and Geregu Power Ltd out of the six privatised electricity generation companies (GENCOs) were said to have met their performance targets since taking over.

German investors prefer solar over wind

June 29 – Energy infrastructure investors are keen to build solar power projects in Germany, but shun wind parks. In the latest solar power auction, investors offered to build almost 450 MW of capacity – more than four times the 96 MW of volume on offer– with the average successful bid at 5.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (ct/kWh). The wind auction, in contrast, was undersubscribed: The German network agency  (BNetzA) tendered around 826 MW, but successful bids only totalled 464 MW, at an average price of 6.14 ct/KWh.

MAN ventures into synthetic fuels

June 26 – MAN Energy Solutions has entered the hydrogen economy with the recent pro rata acquisition of H-TEC SYSTEMS, an electrolysis tech firm. The German OEM also committed itself to upgrading its gas turbines to run on 100% hydrogen by 2030.

Varegro starts using Cummins gas genset

June 25 – Belgian-based horticultural company Varegro, has started to use a Cummins HSK78G gas generator to power its greenhouses in Oostrozebeke, West Flanders. Varegro said it selected the Cummins HSK78G genset to produce combined heat and power (CHP) on its premises at a competitive cost for use in energy-intensive greenhouse facilities.

GE names Deloitte as independent auditor

June 24 – GE’s audit committee has selected Deloitte as the company’s independent auditor for the 2021 fiscal year, replacing KPMG. The selection of Deloitte concludes GE’s latest audit tender process.

Northern German states push for hydrogen pilot cluster

June 23 – Northern German states are pushing for greater hydrogen use with a pilot project cluster. Some 12 large demonstration plants for the production and use of green hydrogen are meant to be realised in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The aim is to demonstrate how 75% of CO2 emissions can be saved in the region by 2035.

Wärtsilä to design and equip battery-powered ferries

June 22– The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has been awarded a contract to design and equip two new zero-emissions ferries on behalf of the Norwegian operator Boreal Sjö. For each ferry Wärtsilä will supply the thruster motors, batteries, onboard and shore-based battery charging equipment, the back-up generators, and various electrical systems. The equipment is scheduled for delivery to the yard in early 2021 for the ships to start commercial operations in autumn 2021.

Subsidy cut slashes Chinese wind turbine margins

June 19 – China’s wind turbine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could have their gross profit margins halved due to subsidy cuts, Wood Mackenzie forecasts. Commissioned onshore wind power capacity is expected to drop by more than 16% to 19 gigawatts (GW) from 2020 to 2021 as government subsidies were terminated. This could also lead to a 27% drop in turbine prices over the next five years, slashing OEMs’ gross profit margins by half.

PowerPHASE converts gas peakers into storage engine

June 18 – U.S. emergency power provider PowerPHASE has developed an upgrade to convert 7F gas turbine-based peaking plants (350 MW each) to a so-called Storage Engine (400 MW). The unit would be able to store 3500 MWh daily and discharge 4800 MWh daily. CEO Bob Kraft claims utility customers could dispatch the Storage Engine, despite its lower heat rate (4000), ahead of higher heat rate options (9000 for gas peakers) in a competitive market like ERCOT in Texas.

Cummins names Davis head of New Power unit

June 17 – Cummins has appointed Amy Davis as Vice President and President of the company’s New Power Segment, effective July 1. The new unit includes Cummins’ electrified powertrains, battery design and assembly, battery management, fuel cell and hydrogen generation.

GE powers USS Zumwalt

June 16 – The US Navy has taken delivery of the USS Zumwalt, its first full-electric power and propulsion ship, equipped by GE’s Power Conversion. The ship features a high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains with multi-phase VDM25000 power converters and advanced induction motors. Kevin Byrne, head of GE’s North America marine segment said “the full-electric power and propulsion ship has the flexibility to direct energy where it is needed on the platform.”

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