Markets

Rebuking EU sanctions, Turkey has vowed to step up its drilling activities offshore Cyprus and claimed it found natural gas. Ankara dismissed Brussels’ initial set of sanctions as “worthless” and announced it would send a new drilling ship in waters where Greek Cyprus has exclusive rights.

America’s green energy transition is gaining pace as retired coal power stations are being replaced with flexible gas peaking plants and renewables. Energy-related CO2 emission in 2019 consequently fell 2.2%, reversing last year’s 2.7% rise, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows.

Argentina is seeking to identify potential natural gas storage sites to use supply from its prolific Vaca Muerta shale to meet peak demand. Strategic storage could also help reduce the need for seasonal LNG imports during cooler months from March through October.

Egypt has reduced fuel subsidies, raising domestic prices by up to 30% in compliance with requirements for a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While most fuel prices are now in line with their costs, the government is still subsidizing gas used in bakeries and for power generation.

Australia’s AGL Energy has decided to defer the mothballing of two old gas-fired units at its 1,280 MW Torrens Island Power Station near Adelaide in a bid to meet peakload demand this summer. In a regulatory filing, AGL said the two fast-ramp gas units are meant to compensate for one faulty coal block at Loy Yang-A Power Station in Victoria.

Shale gas is now dominating the overall gas production in the United States and is forecast to reach an average 91.3 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, up 8.0 Bcf/d from the previous year. The gas glut is expected to push down Henry Hub spot prices to $2.50/MMBtu in the second half of this year and further increase gas-burn in the power sector.

France-based Ardian, formerly AXA Private Equity, has acquired a 41.9% stake in the gas-fired Hill Top Energy Center in Greene County, Pennsylvania, from funds held by the U.S. investment house Ares Management.

Generation costs for Germany’s fleet of combined-cycle power plants is getting cheaper than those for coal or lignite for the first time in over a decade, according to a report by BloombergNEF. Analysts find burning gas has become more profitable than lignite “for the first time ever” –  a trend set to accelerate the country’s coal exit.

Striving to achieve its goals for carbon-free power, Xcel Energy’s resource plan finds that it will need more “dispatchable” generating capacity by 2030. Up to three fast-ramp gas power stations have to be added to balance Xcel’s plans of tripling its solar power production.

Fossil fuel consumption keeps rising in the United States, largely due to higher natural gas use in the power sector and petroleum consumption for transport. According to EIA figures, gas demand rose in 8 of the past 10 years, surging by 37% since 2005. Thermal coal, in contrast, keeps losing market share and fell by 4.3% in 2018, the fifth consecutive annual decline.

Economic recession and rising inflation has seen electricity demand in Argentina fall for nine consecutive months, down 2.1 % in June year-on-year, while gas demand for power generation stalls. Vaca Muerta, Argentina’s vast shale formation in the Nequina Basin, still attracts interest — but mostly for unconventional oil production.

Too little available electricity supply strained the German power grid at several moments in June. Severe shortages in Germany on June 25 caused a drop in grid frequency throughout the European integrated grid. According to four German transmission system operators (TSOs), “the situation was very tense and could only be managed with the support of European partners.“

In early December, Gazprom will start supplying Russian gas to China via the ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline. Pursuant to the $400 billion contract with CNPC, more than 1 trillion cubic meters (Tcf) of gas will be supplied over 30 year, Gazprom said, adding the aim is to build more interconnectors to China.

The Iranian energy ministry has said developments are on track to commission and start up over 4,800 MW of power generation capacity. The aim is to reach a total installed capacity of 85,695 MW by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, on March 20, 2020.

Seven days of a record heat-wave in Europe – with temperatures at over 44°C in northern Spain and southern France – have claimed lives, sparked wildfires and propelled up electricity demand to all-time-highs. However, temperatures are forecast to fall sharply today in northern Germany and the Netherlands, with hefty storms set to allow for wind power supply of up to 14.1 GW on Monday.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.