Markets

“2018 is the year of electricity,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) noted given that electric power has been the fastest growing element of final demand, and will outpace all energy sources over the next 25 years. Digitalization of the global economy goes hand in hand with electrification, making it the “fuel of choice” for households and enterprises.

Withdrawal of water by U.S. thermal power stations, mostly for cooling purposes, continues to decline over the past four years and has fallen to a low of 52.8 trillion gallons. The water intensity – the average amount of water used per unit of total net electricity generated – fell from 15.1 gallons per kilowatthour (kWh) in 2014 to currently 13.0 gal/kWh.

Hazards of oversupply in oil and natural gas are preoccupying International Oil Companies (IOCs) as less carbon-intensive sources of energy compound the risk of future oil and gas oversupply. Still, Moody's analysts are convinced oil majors will tackle these new issues through a triad of conservative financial policies to strengthen balance sheets, capital discipline, and robust long-term planning that anticipates secular shifts – like the global trend towards renewables and energy storage.

General Electric is accelerating plans to divest most of its interest in the oil services firm Baker Hughes (BHGE). The cash-strapped American engineering giant announced a complex agreement to offload up to 166 million shares in BHGE in a deal expected to raise about $4 billion.

Promising new shale gas prospects of a “substantial size” have been identified by China National Administration of Coal Geology (CNACG) both in Hubei and in Guizhou Province. CNACG will now develop the prospects, seeking to efficiently tap domestic unconventional reserves for the fast-growing Chinese gas market.

Global gas demand is on the rise, erasing talk of a glut as China emerges as a giant consumer. Already the world's biggest oil and coal importer, China will also become the largest buyer of natural gas with net imports approaching the level of the European Union by 2040, according to International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates.

Closure of the large Rough storage has left the UK in a “precarious position” and “vulnerable” to gas supply shortages, Wood Mackenzie finds. Spot LNG cargoes can help cover demand at a short notice – but it would be imprudent to rely on flexible gas imports through the Interconnector, particularly as UK gas demand is bound to increase due to the government’s coal phase-out policy.

Germany-based RWE and Tokyo Gas, one of the world’s largest LNG buyers, have partnered on gas sourcing, trading and shipping. The two players agreed a framework for reducing costs through optimized shipping of US LNG, procured by Tokyo Gas.

Dynamics of the global energy transition are driven by the speed of electrification and the competition between flexible gas power plants and renewables plus energy storage. Margins in the downstream power market are becoming more attractive, as price discrimination allows for better value capture downstream than in the generation business.

Austria’s OMV is close to obtaining a stake in the development of Urengoyskoye, one of the world’s largest fields at the time of discovery in Russia’s Yamal region near the Arctic Kara Sea. A draft contract has been discussed by Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller and his counterpart at OMV, Rainer Seele that will see the Austrian utility participate in Urengoyskoye’s Blocks 4A and 5A.

As the world’s top oil company, ExxonMobil does not need to worry about size when it comes to snapping up assets. The Texas-based oil giant is tipped as a potential buyer of Endeavor Energy Resources, the largest privately-held oil and gas producer in the U.S. Permian basin – a takeover could cost over $10 billion.

Natural gas production in the United States is hitting new records after output increased to an average 86.9 Bcf/d in October, and continues to rise. In its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said 2018 production will average 83.2 Bcf/d, and is seen to top 89.6 Bcf/d in 2019. This supply glut is likely to push down prices at Henry Hub.

Rebounding oil prices are putting energy pricing reforms under pressure in some countries, with fuel subsidies creeping higher again after having fallen from a high in 2012 of more than a half trillion dollar. New IEA data for 2017 show a 12% increase in the estimated value of fuel subsidies, to more than $300 billion.

Advent International, a Boston-based private equity group, has acquired GE’s Distributed Power business and is now a stand-alone energy company, rebranded as INNIO. The transaction includes the Jenbacher and Waukesha product lines, with main operating sites in Austria, Canada and the U.S.

Coal exports from New South Wales, Australia, are seen entering a phase of “terminal long-term decline” as key buyers are turning away. Exports of thermal coal out of the Port of Newcastle peaked three years ago and analysts now observe a steady decline as Asian markets transition towards cheaper more sustainable renewables.

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