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Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has filed to Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of the Philippines, requesting to end interim power supply agreements prior to the next Malampaya gas field maintenance – but the regulator wants utilities to keep producing electricity from condensate. The upcoming October shutdown will affect gas supply to three of Luzon’s major power plants: Santa Rita (1,000 MW), San Lorenzo (500 MW) and Ilijan (1,200 MW).

As Japanese utilities keep restarting shuttered nuclear power units, analysts say the return of cheap nuclear power will displace baseload generation from fossil sources, in particular natural gas. Japan has to import its entire gas demand as LNG, which is more costly than thermal coal, so a rise in nuclear power output is forecast to reduce LNG shipments by up to 10% this year.

Norway’s Golar LNG has started to unload the first commissioning cargo at its Golar Nanook FSRU (floating storage and regas unit) offshore Sergipe, northeastern Brazil. The supply is designated for the Porto de Sergipe-I Power Project, a 1.5GW combined-cycle gas power plant, developed by Golar in a joint venture with Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners.

U.S. major ExxonMobil, together with Qatar Petroleum, has made a gas discovery of 5-8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) its Glaucus-1 well off Cyprus. The find adds another giant discovery to the East Mediterranean but a lack of subsea pipelines hamper the use of this gas in the local power sector, so Exxon considers teaming up with other majors to monetize the find through a new LNG venture.

Electric load at the MISO grid in the Midwest of the United States was pushed to its limits during the recent period of extreme cold weather in late January. According to EIA figure, day-ahead gas spot prices reached $7.42/MMBtu) at Chicago, the main hub in the region, while MISO day-ahead electricity prices surged to $120/MWh.

Enagas, the Spanish gas network and LNG terminal operator, has announced construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) - part of Europe’s Southern Gas Corridor - is 85% complete. Enagas saw a 1% rise in its 2018 annual profit to 442.6 million Euros amid a 4.5% increase in conventional gas demand.

Spanish-owned Scottish Power has unveiled its “biggest ever investment in the UK in a single year," announcing to splash out £2 billion on green energy in 2019. Programmes include building giant batteries to store excess energy at wind farms, investing in smart grids for customers to buy and sell electricity, and charging points for electric cars.

U.S. engineering company McDermott International has posted a fourth-quarter loss, largely due to $2.2 billion in charges related to works on Cameron LNG and Freeport LNG and higher construction costs for Calpine’s York 2 Energy Center. The Houston-based McDermott today reported a net fourth quarter loss of $2.8 billion – a stark contrast to its $26 million profit in Q4-2017.

Natural gas will become the fastest-growing energy source in the coming decade, displacing coal as a fuel for power plants and heavy industries, Royal Dutch Shell said in its 2019 LNG Outlook 2019. Global energy demand is seen grow 18% by 2035, spurred by clean-air policies in China and India, with gas set to meet 40% of that largely through expanding LNG trade.

Economic growth, combined with a rapidly expanding population, has led to an investment boost in the Indonesian power sector which is forecast to quadruple in size over the coming decade, growing at a 18.7% rate to reach $63.6 billion in market value by 2022. Coal-fired power will retain its leading position while decentralized LNG-fuelled projects also gain attractiveness.

Nuclear restarts and rising coal-burn for power generation has decreased LNG imports to Japan. Nine of Japan's 54 nuclear power plants have re-started, leading to a 8.7% drop in LNG shipments to 7.54 million tonnes in January, down from 8.26 mt a year earlier.

Reciprocating internal combustion engines –  typically used for backup, standby, or emergency power – are playing a fast advancing role in utility-scale power generation applications, according to EIA findings. In Texas alone, the share of gas-fired recip engines surged 20% to over 4,600 MW largely as a reaction to the state’s rapid growth in installed wind power capacity.

The Japanese energy majors JERA and Tepco Power Grid have agreed to jointly invest up to $32.68 billion (£25 million) in Zenobe Energy, a UK-based battery storage company. Zenobe owns and operates some 73 MW of batteries and is currently looking to use its technology in related business areas, notably the charging of electric vehicles.

The Japanese trading house Itochu has pulled the plug on investments in thermal coal mines and coal-fired power projects. Having just sold its stake in the Rollestone mine in Queensland, the Japanese firm said it seeks to increase the renewables ratio in its power plant portfolio to over 20% by the end of fiscal 2031.

Abundant supply of cost-competitive shale gas, combined with technological advances, has led to an ever-increasing average size of a combined-cycle gas power block in the United States. While the average CCGT had about 500 MW installed capacity before 2014, the power block capacity has since then increased to an average 820 MW, according to the EIA’s electric generator report.

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News in Brief

Brookfield invest $2bn in Cove Point LNG

Oct 22 – Brookfield Asset Management, an investor in energy infrastructure and power storage, has agreed to take a 25% stake in Cove Point LNG for just over $2 billion in cash. The alternative investor also owns assets in hydro (7.9 GW), wind (4.9 GW), solar (1.7 GW), distributed generation (400 MW) and energy storage (2.7 GW).

Ansaldo appoints new CEO

Oct 21 – Ansaldo Energia’s board of directors has appointed Giuseppe Marino as new CEO. Together with the chairman, Giuseppe Zampini, he will decide on the company’s strategy particularly relating to the new Chinese joint ventures.

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.