Markets

Investment bank Société Générale today questioned the affordability of natural gas as a fuel for European power plant operators. „At today's prices, gas is too expensive a fuel for Europe," the bank said today, suggesting the "overprice" in terms of the bill is $315/1,000cm or $153bn for 2012e.

The drop in LNG supply to Japan is negatively impacting on the utilisation of gas-fired power plants. „If we were to measure a 30 mcm/d fall in LNG supply against higher gas-fired generation in Japan, then the drop in LNG supply is equivalent to power generation from 7.3 GW of gas-fired capacity," Deutsche Bank analysts said.

Venezuela has seen a surge in new-built gas turbine and distributed power plants to cover rising demand, a study shows. Increment power generation capacity is mainly supplied by gas turbines and CCGTs (2,057 MW) and distributed generation plants (983 MW), in accordance with the policy of the Venezuelan government to decrease dependency from hydropower.

Alstom has refocused its sales strategy into the German market as the country's energy mix is undergoing a dramatic change to accommodate the nuclear exit.  "Chances in renewables and in upgrading Germany's existing fossil power plants are clearly driving our business in Germany, which is a positive outcome of the nuclear phase-out," says Alf-Henryk Wulf, chief executive, Alstom Deutschland.

The German 'Energiewende' concept – a replacement of nuclear capacity mainly with renewables and some fossil power plants – is not technically impossible. Its implementation, however, requires "a great deal of coordination, time, money and public acceptance," Bernhard Fischer, chief executive, E.ON Generation said at PowerGen2012 in Cologne today.

Gas and wind is set to become "the backbone" of Germany's future power generation portfolio, Michael Süß, chief executive, Siemens Energy said today. "It is not about if and when. We have to combine renewable and fossil fuels - with gas as the backbone – to ensure security of energy supply," he said at PowerGen2012 in Cologne.

Gas is the "ideal backup" fuel for renewable energy sources (RES), key note speakers at PowerGen2012 agreed in Cologne today. "This is good news if you are building gas turbines because the capacity is needed. But this is not good news if you are investing in gas-fired plants as your return in investment is extremely unpredictable," said  Laszlo Varro, Head of Gas, Coal and Power Market Division (GCP), International Energy Agency (IEA).

China will more than double its natural gas consumption over the next five years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts in its Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2012, released at the World Gas Conference 2012.

"As gas competes against other energy sources in all market segments, notably in the power sector, pricing conditions are a key element to keep it competitive everywhere," IEA Executive Director, Maria van der Hoeven, said at the official presentation of the report on Thursday.

Uncertainty surrounding China's future energy mix is alerting key global gas suppliers such as Qatar's Rasgas. "The Chinese power market is perhaps the biggest demand uncertainty in Asia. Coal has been the fuel of choice so far, but as environmental concerns increase, gas has a vast opportunity to have an increased role in the market," Al Mohannadi, general manager of the Qatari LNG producer Rasgas he told delegates at the World Gas Conference (WGC2012) in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Germany's gas consumption could rise markedly in the medium term as a result of the nuclear phase out – it could impact prices across Europe, say analysts. Much depends, however, on whether Chancellor Merkel's energy policy – alias 'Energiewende' – will ultimately work out.

E.ON, Germany's largest utility, is facing a loss in the lower double-digit million euro range on deals of an ex-trader. E.ON did not disclose whether the losses were incurred by traded contracts of natural gas or electricity in the forward market.

To launch capacity payment schemes at a national level in EU countries makes "no sense", said Philip Lowe, Director General for DG Energy in the European Commission. Only pan-European mechanisms could make sense and would support investment in new gas-fired plants, he said at Eurelectric's annual conference in Malta on Tuesday.

Investments in carbon capture storage (CCS) for new-built and operational power plants has a softening effect the carbon price - albeit not a big one, Energy Brainpool's chief analyst Tobias Federico said. Gas-fired power plants are allowed to operate without CCS until 2045 in the U.K., the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed.

Amid gas replacing coal as the fuel choice for American power plant operators, the stockpile of coal has risen to a record high, latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.

Demand for natural gas is estimated to surge by more than 50% by 2035, provided that vast global resources of unconventional gas can be tapped in a profitable and environmentally friendly manner, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a special report.

The U.S. is experiencing a boom in shale gas production, with gas prices on record lows and power producers switching from coal to comparatively cheap and less carbon-intensive gas.

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News in Brief

BOL finances entire 220 MW plant in Nassau

Dec 6 – Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has agreed to cover the entire costs to build a 220 MW power plant at the Clifton Pier site in Nassau, and transfer the assets to Shell North America. BPL and Shell had agreed to jointly develop a 220 MW power plant plus LNG regas terminal, but the Bahamas state utility later signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a 132 MW engine-driven power plant at the same site.

Kepco to operate CCGT in Uruguay

Dec 5 – Kepco KPS has been awarded a contract to operate and maintain the recently commissioned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in Punta del Tigre, Uruguay. Under the O&M contract, Kepco said it expects to earn 17 billion Won in sales every year, for a maximum eight years.

Siemens to create thermal twin for Bajaj Energy plant

Dec 4 – Lalitpur Power Generation Company Ltd (LPGCL), part of Bajaj Group, has contracted Siemens to create a complete twin for its fossil power plant in Uttar Pradesh, India. The thermal twin, powered by thermodynamic analysis and machine learning, allows power plant operators to diagnose performance gaps for every asset in the cycle in real time.

Talks between Gazprom and Naftogaz continue

Dec 3 – Russia’s Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy have continued difficult negotiations about an extension of Russian gas supplies and transit after the current contract expires on December 31, 2019. The two state-run companies are embroiled in a legal dispute that still needs resolving, however, they confirmed talks are underway and focus on the technical aspects of transiting Russian gas to Europe from 2020 onwards.

Asia seen add 400 GW by 2030

Dec 2 – Asian nations are expected to add more than 400 gigawatts (GW) of electrical capacity to the grid over the next decade — equaling about twice the installed capacity of Germany. Much of the new capacity will be renewables, backed up by some 140 GW of dependable gas-fired capacity, according to GE Energy findings. Hence, the U.S. turbine manufacturer decided to invest up to US$60 million to convert its Singapore repair center into a HA engineering and development center.

Total starts up hybrid plant with energy storage

Nov 29 – Total Quadran has started up the largest hybrid power plant combined with energy storage to harness the ample solar power potential of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. With an installed capacity of 16 MW-peak, the plant also features a 10 MW lithium-ion energy storage system. Combining of hybrid solar PV units and possibly gas-powered generator sets with energy storage balance out supply swings and enhances the reliability of the electricity grid.

Rolls-Royce, AVK partner on standby gensets

Nov 28 – AVK, Britain’s largest supplier of critical power solutions for data centres and the financial sector, has partnered with Rolls-Royce’s MTU brand for standby gensets in UK and Ireland. The deal covers MTU Series 2000 and 4000 diesel systems in a range from 825 to 4,000 kVA. In the past 30 years, AVK has developed into the largest solutions provider in the UK’s critical power market and has to date supplied gensets equipped with MTU engines with a total capacity of more than 3.5 GW.

Golar suffers setback amid restructuring

Nov 27 – Golar LNG, owner of a fleet of 27 vessels, has seen operating revenues plunge 20% to $98.67 million, in the first nine month of this year, while net losses amounted to over $236 million. Bermuda-registered Golar in May 2019 announced plans to spin off its LNG carrier fleet with the aim of becoming a gas project developer. It recently won a contract for the Barcarena power project (605 MW) in northeastern Brazil.

Burckhardt buys remaining share of Arkos

Nov 26 – Burckhardt Compression’s subsidiary in North America has purchased the remaining 60% of Arkos Group. The US has the world’s largest installed base of reciprocating compressors, and the integration of Burckhardt and Arkos Field Services, will turn the company into the only independent one-stop provider for equipment and service in the upstream, midstream and downstream business.

Gazprom’s exports to Austria reach fresh record

Nov 25 – Supplies of Russian gas to Austria and transits to Western Europe have already exceeded record levels set last year. From January 1 through November 21, 2019, Gazprom delivered over 12.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas – 33.5% more than in the same period in 2018. Austria’s OMV imports Russian gas under a long-term contract that was recently extended until 2040.

OGUK responds to Labour Party Manifesto

Nov 21 – The UK North Sea industry association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) has warned of an investment hiatus in reaction to Labour’s pledge to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, if it wins the General Election on December 12. Responding to this, OGUK said any increase in tax rates would drive investors away, damage the competitiveness of the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry, and could potentially increase the country’s reliance on imports. OGUK underlined it has put in place a ‘Roadmap 2035 a blueprint for net zero emission’ and is investing in technology to achieve this goal.

France, Germany and UK led on demand-side flexibility

Nov 21 – France, Germany and the UK are leading on demand-side flexibility (DSF) and grid-integration of decentralized energy sources while Sweden, Spain and Portugal are lagging behind the rest of Europe, the consultancy Delta-EE and SmartEN finds. Areas covered by their new DSF monitoring tool include availability and accessibility of demand-side response, and its monetization across the gas value chain.

AI predicts peak in power use

Nov 20 – ABB and Verdigris Technologies have developed machine-learning algorithms to predict unplanned peaks in electricity consumption and help avoid them. The Energy Forecasting app will enable users to reduce their electricity bills by reducing peak demand charges.

India’s first UHVDC link commissioned

Nov 19 – GE Grid Solutions has commissioned Pole-3 - the ultra high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission line in India, capable to transmit 4,500 MW of electricity. Once completed the Champa-Kurukshetra UHVDC project will be expanded to transmit 6,000 MW of electricity at 800 kV, serving customers in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh.

COP25 urged to step up climate efforts

Nov 18 – The COP25 UN climate conference in Madrid is urged to enshrine greater commitments from the world's industrialised nations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. “Europe will have to play a key role in this regard,“ environment minister Svenja Schulze said, adding Germany's recently announced climate package marks a "restart" in the country's climate policy.

Wärtsilä launches ‘Expertise Centre’ in Singapore

Nov 15 – The Finish technology group Wärtsilä has chosen Singapore as the location for its latest Expertise Centre (EC) that provides operational support and dynamic maintenance planning, both for marine and energy business customers. All of Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres combined currently monitor some 900 installations with more than 2,000 engines around the world.

U.S. storage injection hits record high

Nov 14 – Near-record volumes of natural gas have been placed into storage in the United States in the current injection season. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the amount of gas held in storage in 2019 surged from a relatively low value of 1,155 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the beginning of April to 3,724 Bcf at the end of October.