Markets

The impact of today's strike at E.ON's gas- and coal-fired power plants in France is expected to be "minimal" and will not curtail electricity output as the German utility is not planning to operate the affected plants.

February 2012 was an "outlier" in electricity consumption and should be considered as such, Societe Generale  analysts, led by Paolo Coghe and Thierry Bros, wrote in the Energy Pulse report issued today. The prolonged and record-breaking cold spell endured by Europe during the first half of February resulted in strong electricity  consumption – but just for the month itself.

Gas prices across Europe need to drop by 20% to make the fuel competitive with coal for power generation during hours of peak demand, Vitol's gas head David Gallagher said. At that level it would make economic sense for electricity producers to switch from burning coal to gas.

Reliance Industries, India's biggest company by market capitalisation,  has filed for arbitration this week, claiming the Indian government is restricting it from recovering cost on developing an offshore gas block. The dispute prompted Reliance to curtail gas supplies to Indian power plant operatiors, leaving India with a severe electricity shortage.

International Power (IP), a London-based energy group, has posted a 5% rise in  revenues to €4,257 million in the first quarter driven by strong growth in Asia and Lation America. In an interim management statement, IP said revenue in Asia surged 22% to Eur491 million while revenue in Latin America increase by and 16% to Eur1.021 billion.

Gains for gas demand in the power and industrial sector will offset a decline in gas demand for residential use, Howard Gruenspecht, acting administrator, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said today. The share of natural gas in the U.S. energy mix is forecast to rise 27% by 2035, from 24% in 2010, according to EIA forecasts.

Ofgem, the U.K. energy regulator, warns Britain might face a gap in power generation capacity as ageing plants are being retired while construction of new nuclear, gas-fired or offshore wind power projects are delayed. "Britain is facing pretty frightening times with regards to spare capacity," Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem CEO said today.

Except for Europe, the global gas-to-power sector is expanding rapidly driven by rising electricity demand in emerging markets. "Even if gas is regulated to death in Europe, the growth of gas-to-power generation will continue outside Europe," Stefan Judisch, chief executive of RWE Supply & Trading said today.

The share of gas-fired power generation is likely to rebound in the mid-term future in line with growing renewable power production. "The key driver for gas demand growth in Europe will come from the power generation sector," Klaus Schäfer, CEO, E.ON Trading & E.ON Ruhrgas forecast today.

Gas does not get to play its rightful role in the European energy mix, Rune Bjornson, senior vice president natural gas, Statoil said today. Adverse economics currently hamper the rise of gas in the energy sector, he said, suggesting "the price of carbon is far too low to incentivise a switch from coal to gas".

China is set to become "the engine of global gas demand" in the coming years, as opportunities for a greater share of gas in power generation arise due to Government concerns about air pollution, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today.

The Middle East has seen the highest growth rate globally of dry natural gas consumption, rising from 53 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) to 113 Tcf between 1980 and 2010, according to figures published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). A key driver for the rise was the expanding in gas-fired power generation sector in the Gulf region.

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News in Brief

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.

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.