Markets

The European TSO group ENTSO-E has allayed fears of electricity shortages in Continental Europe in 2025 amid rising intermittent supply from renewable power sources, combined with a coal and nuclear exit in Germany and staggered coal power closures in Belgium and France.

China Gas Holdings, the largest independent Chinese city-gas distributor, has reported a 22.2% rise in fiscal half-year net profits to HK$4.91 billion (US$627.3m) and over US$3.5 billion in revenues as Beijing’s ‘Blue Skies’ anti-pollution policies led to rising use of natural gas for power generation and as a transport fuel.

FirstGen of the Philippines has freed up another $300 million for its projected floating storage and regas unit (FSRU), developed to ensure continuous fuel supply for 3,200 MW gas power capacity near Batangas City. LNG imports are vital for FirstGen as contracts for domestic gas supply from the Malampaya field will run out in 2024.

Two of Britain’s top energy firm, SSE and National Grid, have moved the ownership of their UK operations abroad to protect themselves from the Labour Party’s nationalization plans. According to the Sunday Times, they set up offshore branches in Switzerland, Luxemburg and Hong Kong.

Norwegian shipping company Höegh LNG sees continued growth in global gas demand as falling LNG prices help developers press ahead with decentralized power projects, supplied with natural gas via floating regas and storage units. Höegh participates in two FRSU tenders in Asia, and seeks to renew all its short-term charters by 2021.

Algerian state-owned Sonatrach has renewed its gas export contract with the French utility ENGIE – just days after Kamel Eddine Chikhi was appointed as its new CEO. Energy sales are vital for the Algerian economy, and Sonagas stated it has already renewed its gas delivery arrangement with Botas, Galp Energia, Enel, Eni and Edisson as well as Naturgy.

Fast adoption of floating LNG technology across Asia is opening up new gas markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. According to Black & Veatch, gas-fired power projects are “attractive for emerging markets” due to advantages in price, reliability and fuel access over developing technologies such as battery storage.

Ratings agency Moody’s has raised its forecast for German wholesale power prices by €5, reflecting higher carbon emissions prices. Wholesale power prices are seen to vary in a range of €40-50/MWh through 2022, and will also "become more volatile” as the share of renewables increases.

Energy demand in Africa, home to the fastest growing and youngest population on the planet, will be “critical for the world’s energy future, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA). In its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO2019), the Paris-based agency urged African leaders to tap the continent’s huge potential from solar, wind and natural gas.

Natural gas production in the United States is going from strength to strength, as is domestic gas use and export. According to Government figures, dry gas output surged 12% to 83.8 Bcf/d in 2018 and is on course to a fresh record this year. Consumption rose 11% over the same period, driven by demand from the power sector.

Chart Industries has installed and commissioned Europe’s largest LNG fuelling station near the northern German city of Bakum. Using cleaner-burning LNG as a transport fuel will help reduce sector emissions before Germany’s new national emission trading system (ETS) for transport comes into effect in 2021.

Amid growing needs for grid balancing, manufacturers of battery-based energy storages systems are struggling to source enough cobalt, lithium, and nickel. Analysts warn that the current low price for these raw materials defers the expansion of mining activity which could cause a supply crunch by mid-2020.

Fast-rising oil and gas production in the United States keeps pushing up utility-scale electricity generation from gas-fired power plants. The share of gas generation will rise from 37% this year to 38% in 2020, while the contribution of coal power falls from 25% to less than 22%, the EIA said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Though green hydrogen is still more costly to produce than conventional sources, Wood Mackenzie expects it could reach parity by 2030 in Australia, Germany and Japan based on $30 per MWh for renewables. While technology is advancing, analysts see “considerable uncertainty” around hydrogen investment in Asia-Pacific.

U.S. infrastructure firm AECOM has seen its full-year revenue rise to $20.2 billion, despite a 3% drop in earnings at its construction services segment. Completion of several combined-cycle power plants in the fourth quarter was not replaced by new orders, as AECOM said it “decided to extract itself from the fixed-priced power plant market.”

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News in Brief

ExxonMobil enhances turbine oils

Jan 17 – New high performance turbine oils, developed by ExxonMobil Lubricants, are  entering the market which are formulated to prevent build-up of lacquer, varnish and deposits. The oils are designed to protect against thermal and oxidative degradation, one of the root causes of deposit build-up.

Wärtsilä signs O&M deals in the Bahamas

Jan 16 – Following the commissioning of a Wärtsilä-built 132 MW power plant in Bahamas in December, the Finish manufacturer now signed a two-year operation and maintenance (O&M) accord with the plant owner, the Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL). Wärtsilä will transition, train, and develop the owner’s Bahamian work force and provide key performance guarantees.

China, S'Korea curtail coal to tackle air pollution

Jan 15 – Beijing city government’s aggressive approach to tackling air pollution is working and South Korea’s spring coal-fired curtailments show some success in cutting seasonal emissions. According to Wood Mackenzie, this should benefit LNG, particularly while spot prices remain low.

Sri Lanka at brink of power shortages

Jan 14 – Sri Lanka could face power cuts by March, after plans for a large-scale coal power plant were been cancelled just prior to start of construction, and a tender for a 300 MW diesel plants ended up in court. On the demand side, pressure is building up as the region is moving into the dry season in February and March. Weather warnings say the island is likely to receive lower than average rainfall in the first quarter of 2020.

Caterpillar’s new genset comply with UK & German grid codes

Jan 13 – Caterpillar Inc. has launched a series of new generator sets that comply with the new G99 United Kingdom, VDE-AR-N 4110 German and Belgium C10/C11 grid codes. The following gensets – G3500H, CG132B, CG170, and CG260 (rated from 280-4,500kVA) – have been verified to be able to accommodate different reactive power modes, active power functions, and connection conditions for normal operation or reconnection after mains decoupling.

Transneft launches battery-based power supply for ILI tools

Jan 10 – Transneft Diascan, the largest Russian inspection service provider for pipelines, has developed and put into operation a power supply system for in-line inspection (ILI) tools based on rechargeable batteries. Flaw detectors performing inspections of trunk oil pipelines, gas pipelines and oil product pipelines can now use the energy from rechargeable batteries, which helps save time and reduces the cost of in-line inspection.

Pavilion starts trading LNG out of Madrid

Jan 9 – Singapore-based Pavilion Energy has completed the acquisition of all gas and LNG assets of the Spanish utility Iberdrola. From its new European headquarters in Madrid, Pavilion said has launched 2020 LNG trading operations with supplies focusing on Spain and the UK market.

Gazprom extends gas transits via Belarus until 2021

Jan 8 – Gazprom and Gazprom Transgaz Belarus have sealed additional agreements to extend the contracts for gas supplies to and gas transportation across Belarus until 2021. According to the newly-signed documents, the contractual supply and transit volumes in 2020 will remain at the level of 2019.

EastMed pipeline to take FID by 2022

Jan 7 – Greece, Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement to build the 1,900-kilometre EastMed pipeline at an estimated cost of 6 billion Euros. The subsea pipeline, spanning over 1,900-kilometres would initially carry 10 Bcm of gas per annum from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Crete and then on to the Greek mainland and into the European gas network via Italy. A final investment decision (FID) is meant to be reached in 2022, given that the pipeline is scheduled for completion by 2025.

U.S. energy-related emissions drop over 2%

Jan 6 – Fewer emissions from coal consumption, combined with lower energy demand, have helped to significantly reduce the overall energy-related carbon emissions in the United States. According to government statistics, energy-related CO2 emissions fell 2.2 percent last year, and the downward trend is forecast to continue into 2020.

Brent crude prices surge

Jan 3 – North Sea Brent crude prices have risen to their highest level since September 2019, up nearly $3 per barrel because of Middle East tensions coupled with improved Chinese economic forecasts. Brent crude futures for March 2020 delivery were last seen trading at 69.21 per barrel the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). This bullish price sentiment will feed through to oil-indexed natural gas contracts and LNG deliveries, linked to the Japanese crude cocktail (JCC) basket price.

IEA says coal’s fate tied to Asia

Dec 23 – Rapid rise of wind and solar power in many parts of the world has pushed coal-fired power generation into steep decline in most developed countries. "But this is not the end of coal, since demand continues to expand in Asia," analysts at the International Energy Agency commented: "The region’s share of global coal power generation has climbed from just over 20 percent in 1990 to almost 80 percent in 2019, meaning coal’s fate is increasingly tied to decisions made in Asian capitals."

Drop in coal-burn makes Germany edge closer to climate targets

Dec 20 – In 2019, Germany managed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions for the second year in a row, mainly due to a 20 percent drop of coal use for power generation and a growing contribution from renewables. Energy savings and efficiency increases also helped. According to calculations by energy research group AG Energiebilanzen (AGEB), Germany’s primary energy consumption declined by 2.3 percent this year, overall energy use fell more than 2 percent, and energy-related CO2 emissions fell by as much as 7 percent.

Glencore buys Orsted’s lgas business unit

Dec 19 – UK-listed mining company Glencore has agreed to take over a loss-making natural gas business from Orsted, including long-term import capacity at the Gate regas terminal in Rotterdam and five other LNG purchase agreements. “The transaction entails a payment from Orsted to Glencore and will result in a loss that exceeds our current provision related to the LNG activities,” stated Copenhagen-based Orsted without disclosing the value of the transaction.

Carbon-intensive firms may shed over 40% in value

Dec 18 – Energy- and carbon-emissions intensive companies could lose up to 43% of their value if national governments enact more stringent policies to reduce air pollution and tackle climate change. Companies using green energy, in contrast, could gain up to 33% in value, research by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) finds.

COP25 – a “lost opportunity”

Dec 17 – UN Secretary António Gutierrez has dismissed the outcome of the COP25 climate talks in Madrid as “disappointing” and “lost opportunity“. Some of the world’s largest emitters, including Australia, Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia had joined the U.S. in pushing for accounting loopholes to weaken commitments to reduce emissions in the transport and power generation sector.

Industry produces over 13% of Germany’s electricity

Dec 16 – Decentralized power generation at industrial sites keeps rising in Germany. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), industry produced 55 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of in 2018, meaning local units of mining and manufacturing generated 12.6 percent of the country's gross electricity output, mostly from gas-fired power units. The use of gas as a fuel for industrial power plants has consequently risen from around 35 percent to almost 50 percent over the last ten years.