Markets

The profit margin of gas-fired power plants in Germany has dropped to a 4-year low, as the clean spark spread for baseload 2013 delivery has plunged to minus Eur8/MWh at the end of last week. Utilities can only operate their gas plants profitably for generating power for higher priced peak load hours between 8am and 8pm local time.

The price advantage of US LNG exported to Europe over gas prices at the UK National Balancing Point (NBP) is seen to drop to "virtually nil" over the 2016-2020 period. The lack of a price discount means that "US LNG exports cannot directly displace gas into Europe, but could free up flexible LNG supplies which otherwise would have been imported into Asia," analyst Michael Lewis said in a report today.

French-Belgian utility GDF Suez is planning to mothball a total of 1.6 GW of fossil – mainly gas-fired – generation capacity in the period in this and the coming year, Jean Francois Cirelli, the company's vice chairman and president said.

India's power ministry has appointed an expert committee to investigate the reasons for the massive grid failure that affected 600 million people, nearly half of the country's total population on Tuesday, July 31, across all northern states. The new power minister, Veerappa Moily, who took charge late yesterday, declared that the grid is now functioning normally.

An unabated speed of the current switch from coal to gas generation in the U.S. would place at least 49 GW of coal-fired capacity at risk for retirement by 2020, according to the reference case in EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012).

Texas-based Global Power Equipment Group has closed a $31.5 million deal to buy Koontz-Wagner Custom Controls Holdings ahead of schedule in a bit to strengthen its position as a leading manufacturer of natural gas turbine auxiliary equipment. The acquisition "marks the first of what we believe could be many more", said Global Power CEO Luis Manuel Ramírez.

Swedish state-owned energy group Vattenfall today said it expects demand and power prices to remain on low levels as it posted a 10 percent drop in second-quarter core earnings, dragged down by the lower prices.

US power plant owners and operators plan to retire almost 27 GW of coal-fired capacity between 2012 and 2016, shifting the energy balance further towards gas generation. Key drivers behind the rise in coal plant closures are the modest growth in US energy demand combined with a continuous drop in relative fuel prices of gas compared with coal, the EIA said in its Annual Electric Generator Report.

Natural gas is the energy source that most countries are shifting towards as it becomes "permanently cheap," the CEO of GE forecasts. "It's really a gas and wind world today," Jeff Immelt was reported as saying on Monday.

Germany's third largest utility EnBW today reported a 26.3% drop in revenue 1.97 billion euros for its power generation and trading segment in the first half of 2010. EnBW was hit by the forced shut-down of two nuclear reactors last year as part of the German nuclear phase out.

Electricity consumption in Germany has dropped 1.4% to 261.5 TWh in the first half of 2012, mainly due to reduced demand from power-intensive industries such as steel production, preliminary data published by energy industry association BDEW shows.

Electricity generated from UK gas-fired plants has plunged to its lowest level in 15 years in April as a result of high gas prices, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said on Thursday. Gas demand for power generation decreased by 16.7 percent, reducing the share of gas in the UK's energy mix to 40 percent, down from 46 percent last year.

The European Commission today revealed further detail on three options for a set-aside of carbon allowances, which could lift the price of carbon by up to €6/ton, according to estimates of Thomson Reuters Point Carbon. Higher carbon prices would help lift the profit margin (spark spread) of gas-fired power plants.

The spot price of natural gas at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Zone 4 Marcellus trading point has fallen below the spot price at Henry Hub in Louisiana. TGP Zone 4 is currently the least expensive gas traded in North America, according to EIA figures.

Electricity produced from nuclear and fossil fuels in the U.S. will start to decline between 2020 and 2025, due to an expansion in renewable generation. "Natural gas represents the largest source of displaced generation," the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts.

Page 140 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.