Markets

Keen to maximize China’s domestic oil and gas production and streamline imports, the government in Beijing’s is taking steps to bundle all onshore trunk pipelines owned by PetroChina, Sinopec Group and CNOOC into one single transmission system operator (TSO). Wood Mackenzie reckons China’s new state TSO could be worth up to $105 billion and is likely to lead to higher end-user energy prices.

Strong economic growth in Asia and other non-OECD countries is forecast to push up the world’s energy consumption by nearly 50 percent over the next three decades. According to the U.S. government projections, industry accounts for most of the energy demand growth and is expected to reach about 315 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) globally by 2050.

Engas, the Spanish gas transmission system operator, has recorded an 80 percent rise in gas demand in the year just past, reaching 111 TWh. Coal-to-gas fuel switch in the power sector was the main cause of the “extraordinarily high demand,” along with higher industrial consumption, Enagas said, pushing up Spain's total 2019 gas demand to 398 TWh.

Smart electrically-driven heating is a “valuable field in which to invest”, Delta-ee says with reference to over 30 million units of electrically-driven heating units across Europe. In the UK, new business models provide heat-as-a-service, helping the customer avoid buying natural gas or wood pallets to fuel heating appliances by simply purchasing the heat, and comfort that comes with it.

Four of Japan’s nine currently operational nuclear power plants face shutdowns in 2020 as the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is enforcing stricter anti-terrorism measures at nuclear facilities. Analysts expect this will trigger a rise LNG or thermal coal imports.

Heads of state in Russia and Germany have reacted angrily to sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump against building Nord Stream 2, the second 55 Bcm/year pipeline leg of the Baltic Sea interconnector. The sanctions target in particular the Swiss-Dutch pipe-laying firm AllSeas, which suspended works in anticipation.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has made it easier to access and use information by launching a State Energy Portal. When visualizing data for one state, users can add other states, regional, or weather data to make quick comparisons. They can also filter by data frequency, time period, geographic location, energy source, and sector.

For new gas pipelines, timing is everything. This especially applies to the new 38 Bcm/y ‘Power of Siberia (PoS)’ link that will elevate China to become Gazprom’s second largest export market. However, analysts say  considering the cost of transporting Russian pipeline gas over thousands of miles towards Beijing and Shanghai, it is unlikely that CNPC will want to quickly ramp up PoS gas supply at the expense of imported LNG.

Sales of electric vehicles in Germany have jumped 49 percent, with over 97,000 electric cars sold in the months up to December. Consumers increasingly embrace e-cars – not least as a means to shield against Berlin’s latest hike of the entry-level price for CO2 emissions in the transport sector, which has just been raised to 25 Euros per tonne from 2021.

Southern California Gas Company’s (SoCalGas) has managed to improve its gas supply flexibility going into December, just before demand will peak in the latter half of the month. Working gas inventory currently stands at 74.4 billion cubic feet (Bcf), and though that’s similar to last winter SoCalGas stressed it enhanced withdrawal volumes and speed from its large Aliso Canyon storage.

With the opening of the ‘Power of Siberia’ interconnector, Russia’s Gazprom has shifted its focus on its new Chinese offtaker CNPC who agreed to import 38 Bcm annually over the next 30 years under a deal worth some $400 billion. As for 2019, Gazprom says Chinese gas demand will rise 10 percent and “considerably exceed 300 billion cubic meters (Bcm).”

The December clearing price for carbon emissions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) scheme has reached a fresh record due to a tighter emission cap. RGGI, the first mandatory emission trading scheme in 10 U.S. northeastern states, has cleared its latest auction at $5.61 per short ton for the 13.1 million tons of CO2 allowances sold.

Shares of Saudi Aramco have spiked after a historic market debut, rising 10% above the initial public offer price. The Saudi government listed a 1.5% stake in Aramco at Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange – raising $25.6 billion which gives the oil giant a market valuation of around $1.88 trillion, and liquidity to invest in LNG trading and power gen projects.

The latest U.S. Government Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) anticipates natural gas production will grow much less in 2020 because of the lag between changes in price and changes in future drilling activity. Low prices in Q3-2019 is likely to reduce gas-directed drilling in the first half of next year, with 2020 output seen average 95.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).

Germany’s structural shift towards e-mobility has been largely driven by governmental regulation and less by market forces, Deutsche Bank criticized. Without subsidies, e-cars are “still a niche”, analysts said, noting the technology is “a very expensive way of avoiding carbon emissions.”

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News in Brief

ExxonMobil enhances turbine oils

Jan 17 – New high performance turbine oils, developed by ExxonMobil Lubricants, are  entering the market which are formulated to prevent build-up of lacquer, varnish and deposits. The oils are designed to protect against thermal and oxidative degradation, one of the root causes of deposit build-up.

Wärtsilä signs O&M deals in the Bahamas

Jan 16 – Following the commissioning of a Wärtsilä-built 132 MW power plant in Bahamas in December, the Finish manufacturer now signed a two-year operation and maintenance (O&M) accord with the plant owner, the Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL). Wärtsilä will transition, train, and develop the owner’s Bahamian work force and provide key performance guarantees.

China, S'Korea curtail coal to tackle air pollution

Jan 15 – Beijing city government’s aggressive approach to tackling air pollution is working and South Korea’s spring coal-fired curtailments show some success in cutting seasonal emissions. According to Wood Mackenzie, this should benefit LNG, particularly while spot prices remain low.

Sri Lanka at brink of power shortages

Jan 14 – Sri Lanka could face power cuts by March, after plans for a large-scale coal power plant were been cancelled just prior to start of construction, and a tender for a 300 MW diesel plants ended up in court. On the demand side, pressure is building up as the region is moving into the dry season in February and March. Weather warnings say the island is likely to receive lower than average rainfall in the first quarter of 2020.

Caterpillar’s new genset comply with UK & German grid codes

Jan 13 – Caterpillar Inc. has launched a series of new generator sets that comply with the new G99 United Kingdom, VDE-AR-N 4110 German and Belgium C10/C11 grid codes. The following gensets – G3500H, CG132B, CG170, and CG260 (rated from 280-4,500kVA) – have been verified to be able to accommodate different reactive power modes, active power functions, and connection conditions for normal operation or reconnection after mains decoupling.

Transneft launches battery-based power supply for ILI tools

Jan 10 – Transneft Diascan, the largest Russian inspection service provider for pipelines, has developed and put into operation a power supply system for in-line inspection (ILI) tools based on rechargeable batteries. Flaw detectors performing inspections of trunk oil pipelines, gas pipelines and oil product pipelines can now use the energy from rechargeable batteries, which helps save time and reduces the cost of in-line inspection.

Pavilion starts trading LNG out of Madrid

Jan 9 – Singapore-based Pavilion Energy has completed the acquisition of all gas and LNG assets of the Spanish utility Iberdrola. From its new European headquarters in Madrid, Pavilion said has launched 2020 LNG trading operations with supplies focusing on Spain and the UK market.

Gazprom extends gas transits via Belarus until 2021

Jan 8 – Gazprom and Gazprom Transgaz Belarus have sealed additional agreements to extend the contracts for gas supplies to and gas transportation across Belarus until 2021. According to the newly-signed documents, the contractual supply and transit volumes in 2020 will remain at the level of 2019.

EastMed pipeline to take FID by 2022

Jan 7 – Greece, Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement to build the 1,900-kilometre EastMed pipeline at an estimated cost of 6 billion Euros. The subsea pipeline, spanning over 1,900-kilometres would initially carry 10 Bcm of gas per annum from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Crete and then on to the Greek mainland and into the European gas network via Italy. A final investment decision (FID) is meant to be reached in 2022, given that the pipeline is scheduled for completion by 2025.

U.S. energy-related emissions drop over 2%

Jan 6 – Fewer emissions from coal consumption, combined with lower energy demand, have helped to significantly reduce the overall energy-related carbon emissions in the United States. According to government statistics, energy-related CO2 emissions fell 2.2 percent last year, and the downward trend is forecast to continue into 2020.

Brent crude prices surge

Jan 3 – North Sea Brent crude prices have risen to their highest level since September 2019, up nearly $3 per barrel because of Middle East tensions coupled with improved Chinese economic forecasts. Brent crude futures for March 2020 delivery were last seen trading at 69.21 per barrel the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). This bullish price sentiment will feed through to oil-indexed natural gas contracts and LNG deliveries, linked to the Japanese crude cocktail (JCC) basket price.

IEA says coal’s fate tied to Asia

Dec 23 – Rapid rise of wind and solar power in many parts of the world has pushed coal-fired power generation into steep decline in most developed countries. "But this is not the end of coal, since demand continues to expand in Asia," analysts at the International Energy Agency commented: "The region’s share of global coal power generation has climbed from just over 20 percent in 1990 to almost 80 percent in 2019, meaning coal’s fate is increasingly tied to decisions made in Asian capitals."

Drop in coal-burn makes Germany edge closer to climate targets

Dec 20 – In 2019, Germany managed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row, mainly due to a 20 percent drop of coal use for power generation and a growing contribution from renewables. Energy savings and efficiency increases also helped. According to calculations by energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), Germany’s primary energy consumption declined by 2.3 percent this year, overall energy use fell more than 2 percent, and energy-related CO2 emissions fell by as much as 7 percent.

Glencore buys Orsted’s lgas business unit

Dec 19 – UK-listed mining company Glencore has agreed to take over a loss-making natural gas business from Orsted, including long-term import capacity at the Gate regas terminal in Rotterdam and five other LNG purchase agreements. “The transaction entails a payment from Orsted to Glencore and will result in a loss that exceeds our current provision related to the LNG activities,” stated Copenhagen-based Orsted without disclosing the value of the transaction.

Carbon-intensive firms may shed over 40% in value

Dec 18 – Energy- and carbon-emissions intensive companies could lose up to 43% of their value if national governments enact more stringent policies to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. Companies using green energy, in contrast, could gain up to 33% in value, research by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) finds.

COP25 – a “lost opportunity”

Dec 17 – UN Secretary António Gutierrez has dismissed the outcome of the COP25 climate talks in Madrid as “disappointing” and “lost opportunity“. Some of the world’s largest emitters, including Australia, Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia had joined the U.S. in pushing for accounting loopholes to weaken commitments to reduce emissions in the transport and power generation sector.

Industry produces over 13% of Germany’s electricity

Dec 16 – Decentralized power generation at industrial sites keeps rising in Germany. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), industry produced 55 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of in 2018, meaning local units of mining and manufacturing generated 12.6 percent of the country's gross electricity output, mostly from gas-fired power units. The use of gas as a fuel for industrial power plants has consequently risen from around 35 percent to almost 50 percent over the last ten years.