Markets

Imports of liquefied natural gas to Japan have dropped for a fifth straight month as thermal coal imports is outcompeting gas in the power sector. In March, some 9.58 million tons of thermal coal was imported, up 3% on February, while LNG cargoes delivered in the same month totaled nearly 7.3 mt, down from 7.93 mt a month earlier, according to Japanese custom’s data.

Working natural gas inventories in the U.S. have ended the withdrawal season on 30% lower levels than the previous five-year average for that time of year. According to EIA figures, natural gas in storage in the Lower 48 states at the end of March totaled 1,137 billion cubic feet (Bcf).

Resurgent economic growth in many developing countries will push the market for steam turbines to over $32 billion by 2024. Analysts at Global Market Insights anticipate the <3 MW steam turbine market will grow over 2% annually, with demand driven by decentralized cogeneration and geothermal units.

The Indian government may give way to utilities’ demands and allow power plants running on regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to sell electricity into the higher-priced spot market, without having to adhere to their power purchase agreements. The proposed e-RLNG scheme will likely require fewer subsidies than in past years due to the fall in global oil prices.

Working natural gas in storage in the Lower 48 United States ended the heating season on March 31 at 1,137 billion cubic feet (Bcf) – the lowest level since 2014. The 2018–19 heating season was characterized by periods of significantly colder-than-normal temperatures, particularly in the Upper Midwest, the EIA said in its latest Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report.

Chevron’s $33 billion takeover of Anadarko, one of the world’s largest independent oil companies, will boosts its lead in the Permian Shale, and grow its midstream and LNG export business. Chevron CEO, Michael Wirth commented: “The transaction underscores our commitment to short-cycle, higher-return investments.”

Demand for natural gas in the U.S. power sector keeps rising as the number of combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants has overtaken coal-fired plants, making the power sector compete for fuel with LNG export projects. Thankfully, the production of U.S. dry gas is going from strength to strength.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects natural gas prices at the benchmark Henry Hub will to fall to an average $2.82/MMBtu this year, and decline further in 2020. The bearish sentiment is caused by a continuous rise in U.S. dry gas production, forecast to expand by 7.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) this year to reach around 91.0 Bcf/d.

In the wake of Egypt’s latest tender for exploration licenses in the Red Sea, the Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Tarek El-Molla has forecast the country's overall natural gas output will reach more than 5 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) by the early 2020s. Anticipating a substantial gas surplus, the Government aims to use these volumes to increase power generation and to meet Egypt's LNG export obligations.

Updated data for 2019 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) show Chinese-added power generation capacities in Sub-Saharan Africa will total 9 GW over the decade between 2014 and 2024.  This does not include two large dams currently under construction  – the 2,160 MW Cacula dam in Angola and the 3,048 MW Mambila dam in Nigeria, which are unlikely completed before 2024.

Saudi Arabia will become the largest Middle East wind power market, Wood Mackenzie finds, with developers expected to build 6.2GW of wind capacitry, or 46% of the region’s total wind capacity addition, between 2019 and 2028. Flexible gas turbine or engine-driven power plants will be an ideal backup for rising volumes of intermittent wind energy.

JERA Co Inc., the largest Japanese LNG buyer and owner of power generation assets, has announced an overhaul of its business to increase medium-term LNG purchase activities, striving to cater for an anticipated rise in gas-burn in the Japanese power sector through 2030.

California, dubbed the Sunshine State, remains the largest net importer of all United States, receiving an average of 77 million megawatthours (MWh) annually, according to EIA figures. Pennsylvania was the largest net exporter, sending an annual average of 59 million MWh of electricity outside the state.

Global energy majors should take action to help governments promote the use of LNG and clean energy sources to meet national carbon emission targets, says Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman. Implementing carbon pricing internationally, in his view, would be “the most effective mechanism” to reduce emissions.

China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has decided to reduce city-gate natural gas prices and trans-provincial gas pipeline tariffs starting from April. Electricity tariffs for industrial and commercial users are also being slashed, said the state-planner who just cut VAT rates for several key industries.

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News in Brief

Slow start of STT pipeline

Oct 18 – U.S. gas exports to Mexico have not picked up substantially despite the start of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan (STT) pipeline. Exports are still below 6.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d), although there no current postings regarding maintenance on the Sistrangas pipeline that feeds from NET Mexico.

EIB defers ban on fossil projects

Oct 17 – Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank (EIB) has bowed to pressure from Germany and the European Commission and deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November. Germany wants the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects as it views the cleaner-burning fossil fuel as a vital backup for renewable energy sources.

Brexit will not impact UK gas supply

Oct 16 – Security of power and gas supply in the UK will not be jeopardized this winter by the country’s imminent departure from the European Union, even in the event of a hard Brexit, National Grid said. In its assessment, the TSO factored in a halt to flows via the Belgium and Dutch gas interconnectors “from EU exit day one”, but said ongoing deliveries from Norway, the UK Continental Shelf and storage will continue as usual.

Ferrybridge C gets demolished

Oct 15 – Four cooling towers at the Ferrybridge Power Station have been taken down as the coal-fired power station will make way to a new, high-efficiency gas power station. Operator SSE shut down the 500 MW Ferrybridge C unit in March 2016 and now started to tear it down.

Global energy storage tops 10 GW by 2025

Oct 14 – The global market for grid-connected energy storage will grow by 6,900 MW, or 16.6% to reach over 10,500 MW by the end of 2025, according to Reportlinker.com. Germany will add over 267 MW energy storage installations over the next five to six years, while 330 MW will come from other European markets. These numbers are dwarfed by China, where up to 1,200 MW energy storage units could be connected to the grid by 2025.

Wärtsilä services EDL plant

Oct 11 – Energy Developments Ltd (EDL) of Australia has awarded Wärtsilä a service contract for gas engine-based baseload power plant at the McArthur River zinc mine in Northern Territory. The maintenance approach for the 53 MW onsite power plant is no longer pre-planned and scheduled but has been changed to condition-based and predictive maintenance, with an advisory contract.

EPH buys CCGT in Galway

Oct 10 – The Czech energy company EPH has received regulatory approval to purchase an 80% stake in the 400 MW Tynagh Energy combined-cycle gas power plant in Galway, Ireland. Mountainside Partners will continue to own the remaining stake in the CCGT, which operates based on a security-of-supply contract from the Irish TSO based on guaranteed power prices.

ITM gets £38m boost from Linde

Oct 9 – Sheffield-based ITM Power, maker of electrolysers for hydrogen production, has been boosted by a £38 million cash injection, as Linde acquired a 20% stake in ITM at 40 pence per share. Looking ahead, ITM said it is seeking to raise £14 million from new and existing institutional investors.

Drax to convert two power units

Oct 8 – Drax Group has received government approval to convert up to two coal-fired generating units at its power station in North Yorkshire to run on natural gas. With this ruling, the UK regulator overturned objections by ClientEarth, stressing some fossil power is vital for the UK to backup intermittent renewable power source.

Storage use tops 80% in key U.S. regions

Oct 7 – Gas storage utilization in the United States is rising in the autumn, with net injections topping 112 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in the first week of October. According to EIA figures, underground storages are at least 80% full in the East, Midwest, and South Central non-salt regions, allowing for seasonal withdrawals to help meet peak-day gas demand throughout the upcoming winter.

Maine, NY aspire to 100% clean energy

Oct 4 – Three U.S. states—Maine, New York, and Ohio—have updated their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), since May 2019. As a result, Maine and New York joined California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia in requiring 100% clean electricity by 2050.

TransAlta to built CHP in Alberta

Oct 3 – Canada-based Transalta and SemCAMS Midstream have agreed to develop, construct and operate a new cogeneration facility at the Kaybob South No. 3 sour gas processing plant in Alberta. To be built at a cost of some 105 million, the CHP will have an installed capacity of 40 MW. Start of commercial operation is targeted for late 2021.

GE’s 100th HA turbine sold in Greece

Oct 2 – Greek industrial firm Mytilineos has ordered a GE 9HA.02 gas turbine to be the heart of the 826 MW Agios Nikolaos combined-cycle gas power plant. This deal also marks the 100th unit of GE’s HA gas turbine sold. Construction of the CCGT is due to start before the end of the year.

ABB launches M4M analyzer

Oct 1 – Swiss technology firm ABB has launches its first Bluetooth-equipped network analyzers, called M4M. The system gathers data from distribution grids and connects them to a cloud-based control system, allowing users to react on energy consumption and on-site power generation trends.

Microsoft invests in wind power

Sept 30 – Microsoft and ENGIE have entered a long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States. The deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW.

Gazprom tackles issue of ownerless gas grid

Sept 27 – Gazprom, the main supplier of pipeline gas to Europe, is trying to settle the issue of ownerless gas pipelines – a relic of the former Soviet Union. Abandoned gas transmission pipeline spanned 6,651 kilometers as of March 1, with the issue seen as “especially acute” in the North Caucasus region where half of this infrastructure is located. If no owner registers these facilities within three months, Gazprom will take over to ensure reliability and safety.

Investors flock to Myanmar

Sept 26 – Fitch Ratings has singled out Myanmar’s power sector as one of the largest beneficiaries of foreign direct investments (FDI) worldwide. Nearly $21.2 billion was poured into power generation and energy infrastructure projects thus far in 2019, which is 27% of total FDI under the Myanmar Investment Law.