Markets

Natural gas is forecast to overtake coal as the predominant fuel in power generation in the U.S. by 2025. Gas will become the world's No. 2 overall fuel source due to its abundant supply and the political backing for less carbon emission intensive gas-fired power plants, according to the latest long-term outlook published by ExxonMobil Corp today.

More regulations under Dodd Frank, MiFID and EMIR may prompt financial trading houses to shy away from commodities. Trading on less liquid market hubs for gas and electricity may take a battering once the new regulation comes into force in 2012.

"Speculators might exit, liquidity might take a plunge and trading – particularly in less liquid commodity markets – might be down to the utilities again," Louis Caron, global executive lead, energy and commodity risk at RiskAdvisory/SAS Group told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' in an interview today.

RWE has confirmed to 'Gas-to-Power Journal' today that is considering divesting stakes in German power plants and splitting-off and selling of parts of the company.

Annual gas demand of natural gas in seven core European countries - UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands and Belgium – is forecast to plunge by fall by 44 Bcm year –on-year, or 10.7%, to 370 Bcm in 2011, Deutsche Bank said in a report.

European utilities are profiting from a rebound in a power prices and production margins, Societe Generale commodity analysts said, estimating that between 20% and 50% of hedge for 2012 has been achieved by higher generation margins post Fukushima. "Some utilities have delayed their hedging strategy and will thus benefit from higher margins post-Fukushima that should flow into the accounts as soon as 2012," the bank said in a recent report.

International Energy Agency's Executive Director, Maria Van der Hoeven sees "golden prospects for natural gas. However she urged the gas industry in Riyadh today to step-up security standards in unconventional gas production.

Coal is forecast to increase in its competitiveness against gas, Société Générale said in a research note on Tuesday. "Demand for imports [of coal] will in our view keep on increasing, even if more slowly," analyst Emmanuel Fages said with reference to the expected recession in the Eurozone throughout 2012.

The gas value chain is integrating as upstream companies such as Gazprom and Taqa have an incentive to venture beyond their midstream activities into gas-to-power. "Upstream players - producers of oil and gas – have an incentive to go downstream," Sybren Hettinga, head of European gas structuring at Cargill, told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' in an interview.

The Russian gas giant Gazprom and Essen-based RWE are in negotiations to form a joint venture (JV) on power generation, an RWE spokesperson confirmed to 'Gas-to-Power Journal' today. "We do not comment on the status of negations," he said, adding joint projects in gas-to-power would be "one of the options".

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has alerted grid operators of the risk of reduced margins of available power generation overload in Europe this winter. ENTSO-E published its Winter Outlook 2011-2012 and Summer Review 2011 on Thursday this week, indicating that under severe conditions, December and January could be the most stressed months of the winter for security of electricity supply.

The power generation sector is forecast to be the main driver for global gas demand, according to projections of the International Energy Agency (IAE). "Global gas demand will be driven by power generation", IEA analyst, Warner de Kate, said at the EMART energy conference in Lyon.

Gas markets are a different animals than power markets, so the integration of European gas trading hubs cannot replicate the integration of European power markets, panalists at a gas trading session the EMART Energy conference agreed on today. "Financially, it has already happened; physically, however, gas market integration works different from electricity markets," APX-ENDEX CEO, Bert den Ouden, said at the conference in Lyon.

LNG exports from the U.S. are likely to go to China, where new U.S. LNG imports will be in a price competition with not-yet contracted gas from Russia via the proposed Altai pipeline and with LNG imports from upcoming Australian liquefaction projects, Thierry Bros, senior analyst at Societee Generale said.

The lack of incentive to build new gas-fired power plants may cause problems for balancing supply and demand in European electricity markets, Evariste Nyouki, head of economic research at GDF SUEZ Trading told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' at the sidelines of the EMART Energy conference in Lyon today.

"New gas-fired plants are needed but the market is not prepared to pay for it," Nyouki said, arguing it is only economical for upstream companies to invest in new gas plants at the current price levels. His reasoning is that Gazprom has the means to free up enough CAPEX in order to build new gas-fired power plants in Western Europe, while utilities currently do not have an incentive to do so.

Dan Smith, Head of Corporate Development at Trayport, has cast doubt over the European Commission's drive to introduce more stringent financial regulation.

"The European Commission supports the creation of liquidity in the wholesale energy markets via the 3rd Energy Package. However, another potential outcome is that the introduction of financial regulation could have a negative impact on liquidity in the wholesale energy markets," said Smith told 'Gas-to-Power Journal' today.

Page 163 of 163

News in Brief

India’s electricity demand may triple, IEA finds

Jan 21 – Energy demand in India is set to double by 2040, and its electricity demand may triple, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Oil consumption in India is seen grow faster than that of any other major economy, making energy security a key priority, the IEA said in its first in-depth review of India’s energy policies. Amid strong growth, renewables now account for almost 23 percent of India’s installed capacity, while energy efficiency improvements helped avoid 15 percent of India’s additional energy demand, oil and gas imports, and air pollution.

Regulators approve CCGT in Wisconsin

Jan 20 – State regulators have approved a permit for Dairyland Power Cooperative to build a $700 million combined-cycle gas power plant in northwestern Wisconsin. The Nemadji Trail Energy Center will produce 625 MW and is scheduled to begin operations by 2025.

ExxonMobil enhances turbine oils

Jan 17 – New high performance turbine oils, developed by ExxonMobil Lubricants, are  entering the market which are formulated to prevent build-up of lacquer, varnish and deposits. The oils are designed to protect against thermal and oxidative degradation, one of the root causes of deposit build-up.

Wärtsilä signs O&M deals in the Bahamas

Jan 16 – Following the commissioning of a Wärtsilä-built 132 MW power plant in Bahamas in December, the Finish manufacturer now signed a two-year operation and maintenance (O&M) accord with the plant owner, the Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL). Wärtsilä will transition, train, and develop the owner’s Bahamian work force and provide key performance guarantees.

China, S'Korea curtail coal to tackle air pollution

Jan 15 – Beijing city government’s aggressive approach to tackling air pollution is working and South Korea’s spring coal-fired curtailments show some success in cutting seasonal emissions. According to Wood Mackenzie, this should benefit LNG, particularly while spot prices remain low.

Sri Lanka at brink of power shortages

Jan 14 – Sri Lanka could face power cuts by March, after plans for a large-scale coal power plant were been cancelled just prior to start of construction, and a tender for a 300 MW diesel plants ended up in court. On the demand side, pressure is building up as the region is moving into the dry season in February and March. Weather warnings say the island is likely to receive lower than average rainfall in the first quarter of 2020.

Caterpillar’s new genset comply with UK & German grid codes

Jan 13 – Caterpillar Inc. has launched a series of new generator sets that comply with the new G99 United Kingdom, VDE-AR-N 4110 German and Belgium C10/C11 grid codes. The following gensets – G3500H, CG132B, CG170, and CG260 (rated from 280-4,500kVA) – have been verified to be able to accommodate different reactive power modes, active power functions, and connection conditions for normal operation or reconnection after mains decoupling.

Transneft launches battery-based power supply for ILI tools

Jan 10 – Transneft Diascan, the largest Russian inspection service provider for pipelines, has developed and put into operation a power supply system for in-line inspection (ILI) tools based on rechargeable batteries. Flaw detectors performing inspections of trunk oil pipelines, gas pipelines and oil product pipelines can now use the energy from rechargeable batteries, which helps save time and reduces the cost of in-line inspection.

Pavilion starts trading LNG out of Madrid

Jan 9 – Singapore-based Pavilion Energy has completed the acquisition of all gas and LNG assets of the Spanish utility Iberdrola. From its new European headquarters in Madrid, Pavilion said has launched 2020 LNG trading operations with supplies focusing on Spain and the UK market.

Gazprom extends gas transits via Belarus until 2021

Jan 8 – Gazprom and Gazprom Transgaz Belarus have sealed additional agreements to extend the contracts for gas supplies to and gas transportation across Belarus until 2021. According to the newly-signed documents, the contractual supply and transit volumes in 2020 will remain at the level of 2019.

EastMed pipeline to take FID by 2022

Jan 7 – Greece, Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement to build the 1,900-kilometre EastMed pipeline at an estimated cost of 6 billion Euros. The subsea pipeline, spanning over 1,900-kilometres would initially carry 10 Bcm of gas per annum from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Crete and then on to the Greek mainland and into the European gas network via Italy. A final investment decision (FID) is meant to be reached in 2022, given that the pipeline is scheduled for completion by 2025.

U.S. energy-related emissions drop over 2%

Jan 6 – Fewer emissions from coal consumption, combined with lower energy demand, have helped to significantly reduce the overall energy-related carbon emissions in the United States. According to government statistics, energy-related CO2 emissions fell 2.2 percent last year, and the downward trend is forecast to continue into 2020.

Brent crude prices surge

Jan 3 – North Sea Brent crude prices have risen to their highest level since September 2019, up nearly $3 per barrel because of Middle East tensions coupled with improved Chinese economic forecasts. Brent crude futures for March 2020 delivery were last seen trading at 69.21 per barrel the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). This bullish price sentiment will feed through to oil-indexed natural gas contracts and LNG deliveries, linked to the Japanese crude cocktail (JCC) basket price.

IEA says coal’s fate tied to Asia

Dec 23 – Rapid rise of wind and solar power in many parts of the world has pushed coal-fired power generation into steep decline in most developed countries. "But this is not the end of coal, since demand continues to expand in Asia," analysts at the International Energy Agency commented: "The region’s share of global coal power generation has climbed from just over 20 percent in 1990 to almost 80 percent in 2019, meaning coal’s fate is increasingly tied to decisions made in Asian capitals."

Drop in coal-burn makes Germany edge closer to climate targets

Dec 20 – In 2019, Germany managed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row, mainly due to a 20 percent drop of coal use for power generation and a growing contribution from renewables. Energy savings and efficiency increases also helped. According to calculations by energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), Germany’s primary energy consumption declined by 2.3 percent this year, overall energy use fell more than 2 percent, and energy-related CO2 emissions fell by as much as 7 percent.

Glencore buys Orsted’s lgas business unit

Dec 19 – UK-listed mining company Glencore has agreed to take over a loss-making natural gas business from Orsted, including long-term import capacity at the Gate regas terminal in Rotterdam and five other LNG purchase agreements. “The transaction entails a payment from Orsted to Glencore and will result in a loss that exceeds our current provision related to the LNG activities,” stated Copenhagen-based Orsted without disclosing the value of the transaction.

Carbon-intensive firms may shed over 40% in value

Dec 18 – Energy- and carbon-emissions intensive companies could lose up to 43% of their value if national governments enact more stringent policies to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. Companies using green energy, in contrast, could gain up to 33% in value, research by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) finds.