Markets

Though Europe is currently well stocked with gas, Wintershall Dea CEO Mario Mehren has warned prices could spike in 2020 if Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz fail to reach a transit agreement. The current transit contract will expire at the end of this year.

Fast-falling technology costs and supportive renewable policies spur a rapid regional load growth of hydropower, wind and solar power sources. Collectively, renewables are forecast to contribute 49% of global electricity generation by 2050, up from 28% last year.

Atlantic basin LNG producers, notably at the US Gulf Coast, get a better netback value at the Spanish Virtual Balancing Point (PVB) than at other European hubs. However, offtake obligations for Algerian pipeline gas will limit how much extra LNG the Iberian market can absorb in 2020.

Enagas, the Spanish gas system operator, has been busy to match an “extraordinary demand” from both the power sector and industry, leading to a 16.9% surge in gas offtake to 294 TWh. Much of the demand increase was prompted by a fuel switch in the electric power sector.

Dubai-based Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) has agreed to sell electricity from its onsite power units in Jebel Ali to Dubai Natural Gas Company (DUGAS) for use in industrial operations. The deal allows EGA to fully utilize its 2.8 GW Jebel Ali combined-cycle gas power plant.

More money than ever is going to energy venture capital deals, but spread across fewer start-ups. Digital sensors, batteries, electric vehicles and smart algorithms are among the main recipients of the more than $4 billion of deals in 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds.

Tellurian is trying to sway Saudi Aramco to take an equity stake in the $30 billion Driftwood LNG export plant, after agreeing similar investor-buyer deals with Petronet and Total. Importing LNG could displace Saudi crude oil currently used for power generation.

Germany’s lignite operator RWE is aspiring to become carbon neutral within 20 years as it shuts its coal power plants and focuses on wind, solar and storage. The strategic turnaround follows the takeover of the renewables activities of subsidiary Innogy and rival E.ON.

Sempra Energy has agreed to divest its Peruvian businesses to a unit of China Yangtze Power Co for $3.59 billion, in a move to exit the South American market and focus on its natural gas infrastructure and LNG export business in the United States.

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has questioned the profitability of peaking power stations in Australia, indicating its Lockyer project is unlikely to proceed without government support. The 132 MW Lockyer gas power unit is the first stage of a 1,000 MW development in Gatton, Queensland.

British energy companies are preparing for Brexit on October 31 amid uncertainty about future cross-border energy flows and carbon pricing. Cornwall Insight warns that with the risk of a depreciation of sterling, prices in both electricity and gas markets will go up.

Japan has committed to invest $10 billion in LNG import infrastructure and related power projects in India and Southeast Asia. The initiative is backed by public-sector financing from JBIC, and analysts expect it will help LNG compete with other fuels like coal in emerging economies.

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News in Brief

BelGAS launches new pressure regulator

May 29 – BelGAS has introduced its new P1098 High-Capacity Pressure Reducing Regulator, a large-volume regulator for natural gas, propane and other fuels. The pilot-operated device has a large-area actuator diaphragm, allowing for fast and accurate response to modulating gas flow conditions. It is adaptable for low to extra-high pressure—up to 400 psi main valve inlet.

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.

MIVOLT launches cooling fluid

May 7 – MIVOLT, part of the British company M&I Materials, has launched two specialist fluids to improve cooling efficiency at data centres. The electricity demand of data centres is forecast to rise to 20% of global supply to accommodate lifestyle changes like 5G internet network, autonomous vehicles and bitcoin mining.

Germany adds 1,300 km to power grid

May 6 – Germany has made progress in expanding its strained power grid. According to the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), over 1,300 kilometres of new power transmission lines have been built and another 830km approved. A further 3,600km are planned to be built by 2030 to alleviate grid bottlenecks and allow transporting rising volumes of offshore wind southbound.

 

 

 

Oman nationalizes first IPP

May 5 – Manah Power, the first privately-run Independent Power Project (IPP) in Oman, has been transferred to state ownership, following the expiry of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between United Power Company and state-owned OPWP. Manah IPP was developed under Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, which stipulates an eventual nationalization of the assets – a feature absent in subsequent IPPs.

U.S inventories at record highs

May 4 – Inventories for crude oil and natural gas have reached a new record high in the United States, as fuel demand declines both for transport and the electric power sector. From March 13 – when a national emergency was declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic – to April 24, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 74 million barrels, or 16%, according to government figures. The acute scarcity of crude storage on April 20 led to a sell-off of future contracts at negative prices.