Markets

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.

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News in Brief

JERA on recruiting spree

Feb 26 – Japan’s largest electric utility and LNG buyer JERA is looking to hire 20 administrative and 60 technical staff. Recruitment activities will begin on 1 March 2021.

B&W wins $13m new contracts in North America

Feb 25 – The thermal segment of Babcock & Wilcox has been awarded several energy-related projects in North America, worth approximately $13 million, as the market strengthens and projects continue to restart following delays in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.” We’re seeing customers now moving forward with necessary work that had been previously put on hold. The recent inclement weather also has forced higher loads within the utility sector and we anticipate stronger demand for parts and services going forward,” said B&W Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Morgan.

PIC Group to service 1.1 GW Hummel Power Station

Feb 24 – Atlanta-based PIC Group has been awarded an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contract for the Hummel Power Station, a 1,124 MW combined-cycle plant operated by LS Power Group. Situated in Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, the CCGT is equipped with three SGT6-5000F gas turbines, one SST6-5000 steam turbine, three SGen6-1000A air-cooled generators and one hydrogen-cooled SGen6-2000H generator.

Duke Energy claims natural gas is cheaper than energy storage

Feb 23 – Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have both indicated in their latest integrated resource plans (IRPs) they view battery storage as potentially more costly than proven gas-fired generating technology. Market observers noted, however, that Duke’s estimates peg the capital costs of a 50 MW/200 MWh energy storage plant at $347 per kWh —far higher than the cost of units that entered commercial service in 2020, as per Lazard data.

EU emission rules could herald end of combustion engine

Feb 22 – Future EU emission rules for cars could mean the abrupt end of combustion engines and put many jobs at risk, the German engineering federation VDMA has warned in a position paper. The use of efficient combustion engines is “still important” – both for vehicles and small generators –VDMA President Karl Haeusgen stressed, especially since these engines can be operated in a climate-neutral manner with synthetic fuels or hydrogen.

Saudi cement producer renews Wärtsilä O&M deal

Feb 19 – The Saudi Arabian cement producer Umm AlQura Cement has signed a five year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement with Wärtsilä for the customer’s captive power plant in Taif City. The 47 MW plant operates with five Wärtsilä 32TS engines. The initial three year maintenance agreement was signed in 2015, and thereafter renewed once.

Gazprom expands Sakhalin–Vladivostok gas pipeline

Feb 18 – The Russian major Gazprom is expanding the Sakhalin – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok gas trunkline at the section between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk. More than 315 kilometers, or three quarters of its overall length, has been welded to date. Gazprom’s 2021-2025 investment programme will total RUB 5.49 billion ($70 million) – more than three times he money spent in 2016–2020. Planned projects include 14 inter-settlement gas pipelines, 9.3 kilometers of gas pipeline branches, and six gas distribution stations.

Enstor closes sale of Waha gas storage

Feb 17 – Houston-based Enestor Gas has completed the sale of its Waha Gas Storage assets in northwest Texas to WhiteWater Midstream. Waha Gas Storage assets have the capacity, when fully developed, to store approximately 10 Bcf of natural gas and include six underground caverns and permits for five additional caverns.

Technip Energies listed in Paris

Feb 16 – Today, Technip Energy has been listed at Euronext’s regulated market in Paris. CEO Arnaud Pieton said the company’s mission is to “serve the energy transition” through its leading position in LNG, hydrogen and ethylene. As growth areas, he singled out sustainable chemistry and CO2 management.

US renewable energy share to double by 2050

Feb 15 – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that the share of renewables in the U.S. electricity generation mix will increase from 21% in 2020 to 42% in 2050. Wind and solar generation are responsible for most of that growth, while nuclear and coal-fired generation decrease. The share of gas-fired generation will remain stable even though gas prices remain low at an estimated $3.50 per MMBtu, according to EIA projections.

Nikkiso to build electric-mechanical actuators

Feb 12 – The clean energy arm of Nikkiso Cryogenic Industries has bought the intellectual property to manufacture electric-mechanical actuators (EMA) and control panels. Coupled to a cryogenic pump, the system works without gearbox which reduces the size of these vertical pumps frequently used in the oil and gas industry.

Europe’s hydrogen projects outnumber current plants

Feb 11 – The number of hydrogen projects across Europe is almost double that of operational electrolysers as demand for the clean fuel is rising fast. According to research by DLA Piper and inspirata, there are 192 planned or announced hydrogen projects in Europe compared to 107 currently operational ones.

NTE to develop 5 GW clean energy projects

Feb 10 – Florida-based NTE Energy is working with investment partners to develop 1.2 GW of solar and 3.9 GW of battery energy storage systems (BESS) next to thermal power plants. “By co-locating renewable projects with thermal generation, we can offer customers access to affordable solar power options backed up by reliable natural gas,” said Steve Remen, NTE managing director. The company aims to bring 4 GW of its proposed clean energy projects into commercial operation by 2026.

Oil price bounces back

Feb 9 – The price of crude oil has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, after plunging to an all-time low last year. Brent crude oil prices for the front-month April were last seen trading at nearly $61 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US oil, has risen above the $58 a barrel mark for the first time in over a year.

Equinor VP named co-chair of OGUK board

Feb 8 – Arne Gürtner, Senior Vice President UK & Ireland Offshore at Equinor has been appointed to co-chair the Oil & Gas UK board, as the sector strive to recover while meeting its net-zero targets for 2021. He will be working with Phil Simons, VP North Sea & Canada, Subsea 7.

Enagás to tap wind power for hydrogen

Feb 5 – The Spanish utilities Enagás and Naturgy are evaluating the potential of producing hydrogen from a 250 MW floating off-shore wind farm and a 100 MW on-shore wind farm in Asturias. The project is hoped to generate more than 1500 jobs during construction and operation, with developers applying for funding under the IPCEI scheme.

Turboden wins contract in the Philippines

Feb 4 – Italy-based Turboden, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has been awarded a contract by the Philippine utility EDC to supply a 20 MW geothermal power plant at Bacon-Manito, on the island of Luzon. The zero-emissions power unit is scheduled to start operations before the end of 2022, and will help lower the local grid’s dependence on fossil energy source.

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