Markets

South Australia’s large-scale Hornsdale battery (100 MW) has helped save nearly $40 million in grid stabilization costs in its first year running, but the success of energy storage undermines the role of gas peaking plants. Flexible combined-cycle plants get dispatched less, also due to higher gas prices, leaving some at risk of mothballing.

As the global sentiment turns against coal, the Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEE Japan) has modelled a case in which all new coal-fired power plant projects would be banned from 2020. If natural gas was to replace coal in the energy sector, global primary gas consumption would surge by 1.3 trillion cubic metres (Tcm) to reach 7.3 Tcm in 2050.

Britain is strong market for sellers looking to home excess gas supply this winter, National Grid said when announcing a record send-out of its Grain LNG import terminal. A robust NBP price and anticipated lower variable costs for gas processing are likely to keep attracting spot cargoes to the UK.

Demand for LNG in Japan is anticipated to fall for the third year in a row as the renewable energy build-out accelerates and nuclear reactors restart gradually. According to the Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEE Japan) LNG supplies will ease from 82.3 mt in fiscal 2018, down 0.3% to 82 million ton in fiscal 2019, which starts on April 1.

Gassco, the Norwegian natural gas pipeline operator, transported 114.2 billion cubic metres of gas during 2018 from the Norwegian Continental Shelf to mainland Europe and the UK. That is nine times Norway’s annual hydropower output and the second-highest exports ever.

Growth prospects for gas-distribution utilities are at risk in several American states, as decarbonization policies on state level and rising cost-competitiveness of renewables undermine the role of gas. According to McKinsey analysis, this could pose a challenge to gas distributors in some states as early as 2026, and in most of them by 2030.

Texas’ electric power grid operator ERCOT is heading into spring and summer 2019 with lowest ever supply of back-up power. The actual reserve margins fell from 8.1% in December to 7.4% in January – just half of ERCOT's 13.75% reserve margin goal.

For January, another 250 billion cubic feet (bcf) is likely to be lost in gas demand amid unseasonably warm weather, erasing fears about a storage deficit. On the contrary, if the mild weather continues Energy Aspects expects end-March inventories to remain north of 1.55 trillion cubic feet (tcf).

Power producers in Europe, as well as parts of the U.S. and Australia, have been feeling the pinch due to a decline in wholesale energy prices brought about by stagnant demand, low gas prices and higher output of generation with low marginal costs, notably renewables. New-builds are no longer profitable which puts reserve margins at risk, hence the International Energy Agency (IEA) calls for a re-design of competitive power markets.

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) chief executive Kenji Ando has used his New Year address to warn of a difficult business environment in 2019, with “turbid conditions” in the thermal power generation sector. “Our competitors are also seeing sharp declines in business results,” he said, stressing MHPS will forge ahead with business restructuring.

The spread in natural gas spot prices between the Henry Hub in Louisiana and the Appalachian region continued to narrow over the year just past. Prices fell at Henry Hub throughout December, and as of January 2, 2019, they were at around $2.79/mmBtu while Appalachian prices kept trading at a discount due to pipeline constraints.

Following eight years of global economic growth, economists agree a downturn is simply a matter of when and how deep. The worst case scenario, according to Wood Mackenzie, would be a recession occurring in 2020 or 2021 – just after 60-100 mtpa of LNG has taken FID.

The spot energy index in the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) has ended the year 21% lower than at the beginning of 2018, despite a 25% rise between January and October. The plunge of the index in the fourth quarter was caused by steep declines in crude oil and petroleum product prices.

Dominion Energy is completing the takeover of SCANA Corp. adding customers in Georgia and the Carolinas to its 18-state footprint. The merged assets, worth over $6.8 million, align well with Dominion’s regulated energy businesses. “These are well-run regulated operations that will help improve our risk profile and growth outlook," said CEO Thomas F. Farrell.

Medco Energi, Indonesia's national oil and gas company, is in talks to acquire the UK-listed Ophir Energy in a cash takeover. No amount or other details have yet been disclosed, other than Medco has to make a clear binding offer by January 28, if a deal is to proceed.

Page 12 of 151

News in Brief

Quarrels over contract award

June 26 – Guam Power Authority’s decision to award a contract to finance, build and operate a new 180 MW power station on the island to Korea Electric Power has sparked protest by rival bidders. Four companies had submitted proposals – Korea Electric, Osaka Gas, Powerflex and Hanwha Energy Corp. Declining to comment on the quarrels over the contract awarding process, GPA said the deal with Korea Electric is expected to be closed by September 9, pending a related impact study.

PTT steps up power sector investment

June 25 – Thailand's state-run PTT Pcl has decided to boost investments in the retail and industrial power sectors to help insulate the energy company against the impact of a global economic slowdown on its oil refining and chemical businesses. Referring to the Sino-U.S. trade war as a global challenge, PTT chief executive Chansin Treenuchagron said the company is looking “how we can survive in the short term.”

APR helps power Libya’s recovery

June 24 – Libya’s state-owned GECOL has asked APR Energy to bring in temporary generators to provide a rapid 450 MW boost. Under the latest contracts, APR provided mobile gas turbines at four key sites in Libya (250 MW) as well as 200 MW of diesel generators at two sites.

GE supplies SCADA to New Zealand

June 21 – GE’s Renewable Energy Grid Solution’s business has won an order from two New Zealand utilities to upgrade their traditional Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems with GE’s Advanced Distribution Management Solutions (ADMS). The orders were placed by Top Energy Ltd with some 31,000 customers and Northpower serving over 60,000 customers, though the contract values were not disclosed.

Top 5 OEMs to rule two thirds of global wind market

June 20 – After a decade of fragmentation, the top 5 turbine OEMs are consolidating again and Wood Mackenzie anticipates key players will surpass a combined market share of 68% by 2020, up from 47% five years ago. Vestas, SGRE and GE remain the top 3 wind turbine producers wwhile the Chinese leaders, Goldwind and Envision, are becoming increasingly popular due to their product reliability and track record.

Keane to merge with C&J Energy

June 19 – Oil- and gasfield service providers C&J Energy Services and Keane Group have agreed a merger-of-equals in a $746 deal that will give the two companies the necessary uplift in an industry burdened by budget cuts of hydrocarbon producers. The 50:50 merger will create a company will create a company with a combined enterprise value of $1.8 billion, including $255 million in debt. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Evol LNG helps power Australian gold mine

June 18 – Kirkalocka Gold Mine in Western Australia will use Evol LNG to fuel Zenith Energy’s 14.5 MW power station with regasified natural gas starting from September 2019. The mine is run by Adaman Resources and had been relying on diesel to cover its energy needs. Based on the current diesel price, Adaman Resources expects to reduce fuel costs by more than A$13 million (US$9 million) during the first six years of operation of the new onsite LNG-to-Power plant.

Shell Energy ordered to refund overcharged UK customers

June 17 – UK energy regulator Ofgem has ordered Shell Energy Retail to refund around 12000 customers who were overcharged after the Government’s cap on gas and electricity prices came into force in January. Shell Energy Retail s agreed to refund these customers by paying £29,000 in compensation (£5 per fuel), and also pay an additional £200,000 into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund.

BASF enters battery market

June 14 – German chemical company BASF is using NGK Insulators’ sodium sulfur batteries as its entry point into the energy market. The Japanese manufacturer NGK is currently the only maker of the large-scale sodium sulfur (NAS) batteries, capable to store several hours of energy. A joint project in northern Germany uses NAS batteries that store energy for five hours, while a recently completed project in Abu Dhabi using 108MW / 648MWh of the systems with a full six hours storage duration.

CNPC boosts domestic gas production

June 13 – China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the largest Chinese oil and gas company, has announced plans for domestic natural gas output to reach 55% of overall domestic supply by 2025. Last year, CNPC managed to boost production by 5.9% to reach 138.02 billion cubic metres, while also increasing imports of pipeline gas and LNG.

Gazprom taps new gas deposits for Nord Stream 2

June 12 – Gazprom is fast-tracking hydrocarbon production in northwest Russia to boost reserves for export through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline (55 Bcm/y), currently being built through the Baltic Sea. At a meeting with Nord Stream shareholders, Gazprom noted that its Yuzhno-Russkoye field has yielded about 276 Bcm of natural gas, including 0.9 Bcm of hard-to-recover Turonian gas, since the start of operations. Turonian gas reserves, consisting of about 99% methane with no heavy residues, lie at a depth of 800–850 meters in reservoirs with low permeability. Commercial production at the Turonian deposit is scheduled to start in late 2019.

PG&E turns off electricity to avoid wild fires

June 11 – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has turned off electricity for some Californian communities at risk of a wildfire during the lastest heat wave. The authorized blackout started on Saturday in Napa, Solano and Yolo counties, with electricity being gradually restored over the course of Monday. Approximately 16,000 customers have been affected.

Gazprom to build power plants in Serbia

June 10 – Gazprom Energoholding has signed an Agreement of Intent (AoI) to build an upgrade several gas-fired power plants in Serbia. Together with Novi Sad, Gazprom Energoholding is already building a CCGT with some 200 MW capacity near a refinery in the Serbian town of Pancevo.

U.S. fund splashes out $4bn to buy El Paso Electric

June 7 – Infrastructure Investment Fund (IIF), a private investment vehicle within J.P. Morgan Inc., has agreed to acquire the U.S. utility El Paso Electric Co for $68.25 per share in a cash transaction. The enterprise value on the transaction is estimated at $4.3 billion. El Paso Electric customers will receive a total $21 million in bill credits over three years.

Caterpillar gensets back up Finnish data center

June 6 – The Swedish telecom giant Telia has ordered 12 Caterpillar gensets to provide standby emergency power to back up operations at its new data center in Helsinki. The Cat dealer Witraktor figured a system which includes eight Cat 3516B and four 3516E generator sets. The Telia Helsinki Data Center is the largest such facility in Finland, and its primary electric power supply comes from a combination of wind, hydroelectric and biomass.

Capstone wins orders in Iraq

June 5 – Micro-turbine producer Capstone has secured an order for two C600 Signature Series microturbines to provide 1.2 MW of energy to power a triethylene glycol (TEG) dehydration facility near Basra, in southern Iraq. The contract also includes Capstone’s new self-cleaning pulse filtration system, allowing the turbines to better withstand hot and sandy conditions with minimal maintenance.

Gas to supply record 43% of US power needs

June 4 – This summer, natural gas is forecast to cover between 40% and 43% of 2019 peak electricity demand in all U.S. states except Texas, according to projections by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas demand soared to nearly 10,700 billion cubic feet (Bcf) last summer, a 16% rise from 2017 levels. Should there be another heat wave this year, that record may well be broken. Capacity wise, natural gas is on course to top its 45% share in the U.S. power mix.