Markets

Algerian state-owned Sonatrach has renewed its gas export contract with the French utility ENGIE – just days after Kamel Eddine Chikhi was appointed as its new CEO. Energy sales are vital for the Algerian economy, and Sonagas stated it has already renewed its gas delivery arrangement with Botas, Galp Energia, Enel, Eni and Edisson as well as Naturgy.

Fast adoption of floating LNG technology across Asia is opening up new gas markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. According to Black & Veatch, gas-fired power projects are “attractive for emerging markets” due to advantages in price, reliability and fuel access over developing technologies such as battery storage.

Ratings agency Moody’s has raised its forecast for German wholesale power prices by €5, reflecting higher carbon emissions prices. Wholesale power prices are seen to vary in a range of €40-50/MWh through 2022, and will also "become more volatile” as the share of renewables increases.

Energy demand in Africa, home to the fastest growing and youngest population on the planet, will be “critical for the world’s energy future, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA). In its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO2019), the Paris-based agency urged African leaders to tap the continent’s huge potential from solar, wind and natural gas.

Natural gas production in the United States is going from strength to strength, as is domestic gas use and export. According to Government figures, dry gas output surged 12% to 83.8 Bcf/d in 2018 and is on course to a fresh record this year. Consumption rose 11% over the same period, driven by demand from the power sector.

Chart Industries has installed and commissioned Europe’s largest LNG fuelling station near the northern German city of Bakum. Using cleaner-burning LNG as a transport fuel will help reduce sector emissions before Germany’s new national emission trading system (ETS) for transport comes into effect in 2021.

Amid growing needs for grid balancing, manufacturers of battery-based energy storages systems are struggling to source enough cobalt, lithium, and nickel. Analysts warn that the current low price for these raw materials defers the expansion of mining activity which could cause a supply crunch by mid-2020.

Fast-rising oil and gas production in the United States keeps pushing up utility-scale electricity generation from gas-fired power plants. The share of gas generation will rise from 37% this year to 38% in 2020, while the contribution of coal power falls from 25% to less than 22%, the EIA said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Though green hydrogen is still more costly to produce than conventional sources, Wood Mackenzie expects it could reach parity by 2030 in Australia, Germany and Japan based on $30 per MWh for renewables. While technology is advancing, analysts see “considerable uncertainty” around hydrogen investment in Asia-Pacific.

U.S. infrastructure firm AECOM has seen its full-year revenue rise to $20.2 billion, despite a 3% drop in earnings at its construction services segment. Completion of several combined-cycle power plants in the fourth quarter was not replaced by new orders, as AECOM said it “decided to extract itself from the fixed-priced power plant market.”

Deep disparities between well-supplied oil and gas markets, growing emissions and the insufficiency of stated policies to curb those emissions are the key theme of the 2019 World Energy Outlook (WEO), published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) today. However, critics the IEA is “underplaying the speed” at which the world could switch to green energy.

Japan’s machinery and electric equipment maker Toshiba is considering taking full control of two of its four listed subsidiaries, including Toshiba Plant Systems & Services and Nishishiba Electric. With Toshiba’s board is still discussing the matter, market observers expect a decision to be made in the coming weeks.

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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.