Markets

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.

Hong Kong is running out of natural gas and is looking to augment its supply sources, Maggie Go, Business Engineer at Hong Kong power utility CLP said in Singapore today. "Demand for natural gas in power generation - a cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative to coal - is burgeoning," Go told delegates at IBC Asia's 6th annual Gas Turbines Conference.

The dynamics of European energy prices are intertwined with those relative to the Euro area debt crisis. "As long as markets do not perceive a real turning point, there will continue to be a lot of volatility and – at times – some lack of strong direction coming from the fundamentals," the French investment bank Société Générale forecasts.

Turkey is close to importing natural gas from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region with the buyer understood to have earmarked some of the volumes for gas-to-power generation. A deal could be struck soon: "A buyer is out there, right next door to Iraq," said Ibrahim Palaz, general manager of Botas International.

As the UK government is searching for a cheap and quick fix to avert a looming gap in power generation capacity, new gas-fired power plants are likely to emerge as the preferred solution, investment bank JP Morgan said today.

EU power demand is holding up better than anticipated despite declining gas consumption, Société Générale said today. Between January and April, EU gas consumption declined by 1.8% year-on-year (yoy) while electricity demand increased by 0.7%, respectively, figures in the bank's monthly demand report 'SG Energy Pulse' show.

Profitability of combined cycle power plants (CCGTs) in Spain is likely to deteriorate further on rising electricity supply from solar PV and wind power generation. “We may not have reached the bottom yet. No investment in new CCGTs is likely in the next 10 to 15 years,” James Cox, Principal Consultant, Poery Energy Consulting, said at the ‘Gas to Power conference’ in Valencia today.

The share of LNG re-exports from Spain has risen to a record 30% of import volumes in 2012 as shippers divert cargoes contracted on flexible terms to profit from high gas prices in Asia, lga Vedernikova, LNG Divisions Director at Clarksons said today. Spain gas demand is forecast to remain on low levels, leaving regas capacity underutilized.

 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.

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News in Brief

MHPS expands Browning’s role to Americas CEO

June 5 – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas has appointed Paul F. Browning t to an expanded role as Chief Regional Officer of the Americas and co-Chief Regional Officer of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). As CEO of the Americas, Browning will lead two global businesses headquartered in the United States and three regional businesses in North and South America.

Siemens to service Kalamkas gas turbines

June 4 – JSC Mangistaumunaigaz, one of Kazakhstan’s largest oil and gas producers, has contracted Siemens to service two STG-800 gas turbines at a power plant, designed to meet the entire energy needs of the nearby Kalamkas oil and gas field. The nine-year contract covers turbine maintenance and eventual upgrades as well as remote monitoring of operations.

NamPower to invest $575m on grid expansion

June 3 – Namibia’s state-owned utility NamPower is planning to spend $575 million over the next three years in upgrading and extending its power transmission infrastructure. Namibia imports 60% of its total electrical energy requirement, primarily through bilateral contracts from South Africa’s Eskom and to a lesser extent, the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

UK TSOs call for £900m green gas investment

June 2 – Britain’s five gas network companies – Cadent, National Grid, NGN, SGN and Wales & West Utilities – have urged the Government to unlock over £900 million (€1bn) for new green gas infrastructure. Research by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) shows that if investment into zero-carbon hydrogen infrastructure started today, the UK could save energy bill payers £89 billion (€99.2bn) by 2044 – five years prior to its 2050 net-zero targets.

Exxon, INNIO about to launch gas engine oil

June 1 – ExxonMobil and INNIO have announced the imminent launch of their first co-engineered and co-branded natural gas engine oil. The U.S. oil major and the Austrian engine maker have just extended their global lubricant collaboration agreement for INNIO’s Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 natural gas engines.

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.