Markets

 The volatility of natural gas demand in Spain is set to rise as the integration of electricity and gas market intensifies, Maria Teresa Bravo, responsible of European gas infrastructure development at Enagas said today. "Natural gas is as a facilitator for Spain's rising renewable energy production, therefore gas infrastructure needs provide sufficient flexibility for gas to play that role, she said at the LNG & Gas-to-Power conference in Valencia.

Operating profit of Statkraft, Norway's largest utility, eased off slightly in the first quarter as the negative impact of lower power prices was offset by higher electricity production.

Japan's hunger for LNG imports to fuel gas-fired power plants is set to ease off gradually as a regional government approves the restart of nuclear reactors. Global LNG markets, however, are forecast to stay tight, investment bank JP Morgan forecasts.

E.ON has not decided on whether to close three gas-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 1,420 MW in southern Germany. "We have not taken a formal decision on whether to close these or other gas-fired plants but we in the process of evaluation the profitability of each plant," an E.ON spokesman said today, dismissing contrary news reports.

Investment bank Societe Generale anticipates a drop in traded prices for natural gas in the U.S.  due to lower demand. The NYMEX front month is forecast to drop to US$2/MMBtu, with falling gas prices set to increase the share of gas-fired power generation in the U.S. energy mix.

Alstom, the French manufacturer of power generation technology, is ramping up manufacturing capacity and output at its Chattanooga facility in Tennessee, with a view to boosting its share in the buoyant U.S. market.

"Our investment in Chattanooga is a reflection of our confidence in the U.S. market," Patrick Fetzer, Regional Vice President of Alstom's gas power plant business in North America said with reference to forecasts about "a substantial short-term grow of the country's gas-fired power generation sector.

RWE posted a 14% drop in operating result to €2.4 billion today. "Declining margins in electricity generation and burdens suffered by the gas midstream business in particular adversely affected the result for the quarter," the Essen-based company said.

The share of power generation from natural gas is forecast to surge by 24% in 2012 amid a 15% decline in coal-fired generation, the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its short-term energy outlook today.

Market participants in power and gas trading can fulfil their REMIT reporting requirements by disclosing generation data on the newly created 'Transparency in Energy Market's platform' of the European Energy Exchange (EEX).

E.ON, Germany's biggest utility, today posted a € 250 million drop in Q1 earnings, owing to lower prices in Europe power generation markets and the mandatory shut down of nuclear power stations in Germany.

The trend of gas displacing coal has accelerated in the U.S. as "the differential between gas and coal economics in the power generation sector has widened further," Deutsche Bank said in a research report today.

The shutdown of two power plants in Nigeria - due to a lack of gas to fuel the plants - has exacerbated the country's electricity shortage. Operators were forced to shut down two gas-fired plants at Sapele in Delta State and Oben in Edo state for an undetermined timeframe.

Analysts at Société Générale are "not overly optimistic" on an upside for German power prices. Spark spreads are likely to remain unattractive, while overall power consumption dropped, the French investment bank said in a research note.

Combined marketed production from the top five natural gas producing states - Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Colorado – has risen about 7.5% in 2011, according to latest EIA statistics. Abundant domestic supplies and low gas prices reinforce the trend among U.S. power producers of switching from coal to gas.

The share of electricity production from gas-fired power plants has fallen to the lowest levels in 14 years due to "unfavourable market conditions and low demand," data published by the department of energy and climate change (Decc) shows.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.