Markets

Coal-burn in the US power sector is recovering in the second half of 2020, having slumped 30% to 184.8 million short tons (MMst) between January and June. Analysts say coal-burn will not reach last year’s levels as many plants are retiring due to tighter emission standards or converting to natural gas.

Sluggish industrial demand will impact US gas prices at Henry Hub well into the New Year. Baseload industrial gas demand is forecast to only reach pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2021, with US Steel having over half of its tubular production capacity idled as pipeline projects are on hold.

Newly-listed Siemens Energy has reported a net loss of €390 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of €79 million in the previous-year period. The Berlin-based company had to adjust its aero-derivative gas turbine segment, writing down €956 million.

GenCell, along with other fuel cell makers, have urged the incoming US President to focus on hydrogen. The Biden administration’s climate plan will see $400 billion spent on clean energy over 10 years, and fuel cell makers want a similar commitment to building out the hydrogen economy.

Austria-based INNIO, formerly part of GE, has acquired the two firms ECI-Distribution and PowerUp in an effort to increase its expertise in service and components for gas engine and cogeneration plants. The transaction is still subject to regulatory approvals.

Natural gas use by Mexico’s industries and power generators has recovered since August after having slumped to 7.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in May 2020 following Covid-related lockdowns. The demand rebound sparked a rise in US gas exports, almost all transported by pipeline.

GE has opened a level 2 aeroderivative service center and tooling store in Perth, enhancing support for LM6000, LM2500 and LMS100 gas turbines. Getting quick help from Perth-based engineers will reduce the repair cycle time and logistics costs for Australian aeroderivative power plant operators.

Gazprom has obtained commercial gas inflow of over 1 million cubic meters per day at the Leningradskoye field, which proves the field’s productivity is “much higher than anticipated.” Development of the Russian Arctic Shelf is key to ensure reliable long-term gas supplies to customers in Europe.

LNG shipments to India increased sharply in October as demand bounced back to pre-Covid levels, largely triggered by higher gas-burn in the power sector. Delivered LNG cargoes rose to 2.5 million tonnes in October, the highest monthly volumes on record, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The German government has freed up 2 billion Euros to finance green hydrogen projects in Morocco, Tunisia, Brazil, Chile and South Africa. Large parts of Germany’s future hydrogen supply will be imported as just 14 TWh can be produced at home by 2030, while consumption may top 110 TWh.

China’s Guangzhou Gas Group is preparing to issue a tender in 2021 to buy over 1 million tonnes of LNG per year, designated for industry and power generators. The company vowed the LNG import terminal it is building at Guangzhou’s south coast will be ready to start operation in summer 2022.

Wärtsilä has modelled a carbon-neutral electricity sector for the United States by 2035, based on 1,700 MW of new wind and solar, energy storage and gas power units running on synthetic fuels. This green system would come at a cost of $1.7 trillion and create 8.7 million jobs.

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News in Brief

Mitsubishi produces methanol in Trinidad

Jan 20 – Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company has launched commercial operations of a methanol and dimethyl ether plant in Trinidad and Tobago. The plant has an annual production capacity of one million tons of methanol and 20,000 tons of dimethyl ether, which can be used as an alternative fuel for cars and power generation.

First 8-cylinder B36:45 engine delivered

Jan 19 – Rolls-Royce has delivered the first 8-cylinder variant of its Bergen B36:45 gas engine to a tomato producer in Belgium. The medium speed genset is planned for delivery this spring and will drive an onsite power plant that generates 4700 kW electricity and 5520 kW heat. The new engine offers a 20% increase in power per cylinder and will replace an existing Bergen 12-cylinder B35:40 genset.

Moody’s upgrades Enel to Baa1

Jan 18 – Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Enel’s long-term rating to Baa1, with a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects Enel’s progress in reducing its risk profile, analysts said, pointing at the Italian utilities ongoing investment in networks and renewables, growing geographical diversification and focus on centralised financing.

GE sues Siemens Energy

Jan 15 – General Electric has sued its German rival Siemens Energy over the alleged use of stolen trade secrets to win gas turbine contracts worth several billion dollars. GE told the US district court in Virginia that Siemens received the secret information from a Dominion Energy employee.

Orbital Energy launches Eclipse

Jan 14 – Nasdaq-listed Orbital Energy Group has launched a new subsidiary, Eclipse Foundation, a drilled shaft construction company. The new company specialises in providing services for power transmission and substations, communication tower and a disaster restoration through emergency power.

S’Korean coal and LNG imports slide

Jan 13 – South Korea’s imports of thermal coal and LNG have fallen 12% and 11%, respectively, as the government cracks down on fossil fuel usage to curb air pollution. Customs data shows that coal imports amounted to 10.2 million tons in December, down 1.4 million tons from the same month last year but up from November’s imports of 9.5 million tons.

SMC builds 1.7 GW CCGT in Batangas

Jan 13 – Excellent Energy Resources, part of SMC Global Power Holdings, is building a 1,700 MW combined cycle gas power plant in Barangay Dela Paz and Ilijan in Batangas City with investments of about 67.863 billion Philippine Pesos ($1.41bn). The project is estimated to be completed in 36 to 40 months.

UK’s National Grid issues supply warning

Jan 12 – Natural gas prices in the UK surged as National Grid issued warnings on supply deficit as LNG cargoes are being diverted to North Asia. Prices at the British NBP gas trading hub soared to the equivalent of $8.95 per MMBtu, while the JKM price for North Asian spot LNG cargoes for February 2021 was last at $19.700 per MMBt.

Fortistar invests in hydrogen

Jan 11 – Fortistar, a privately-held fund, has joined an equity investment of up to $157 million in hydrogen producer BayoTech. Cottonwood Technology Funds and the New Mexico State Investment Council also participated in the latest financing round. BayoTech’s systems produce local hydrogen close to the application, serving end users in the industrial gas and petrochemical segment as well as those who use of hydrogen to power fuel cells.

Ashtead appoints new CFO

Jan 5 - Ashtead Technology has appointed a chief financial officer (CFO) and five managers for newly created roles across its international team. The appointments are meant to cement the company’s position in the offshore energy market, including offshore wind and decommissioning of thermal power plants

NFE secures LNG for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua

Dec 23 – New Fortress Energy (NFE) has agreed to purchase Henry-Hub-indexed LNG for its integrated gas and power businesses in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Nicaragua. The New York-based project developer said it now has covered 80% of its expected needs throughout Latin America, thus reducing its need for spot purchases and its exposure to changes in the market price for LNG.

China and Korea mandate coal-to-gas switch

Dec 22 – The Chinese government has launched a coal-to-gas boiler switching programme, targeting 7.1 million homes, which makes gas demand more weather-sensitive this winter. Similarly, South Korea mandated the closure of 15 coal-fired plants since the start of December in an effort to reduce air pollution. Analysts expect this will accelerate the drawdown of LNG terminal inventories going into Q1-2021.

GE repowers oil field in Brazil

Dec 21 – GE Power Conversion has been awarded a contract by Sulzer Pumps UK to supply motors for four water injection pumps of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. The 8,000 kW, two pole motors will run at 3,600 rpm with a limitation of the starting current at 300%, enabling the oil and gas field operator to optimise the generator which supplies electricity on the FPSO.

VELO distributes Sapphire Metal 3D-Printers in the US

Dec 18 – California-based VELO3D has formed a distribution partnership with GoEngineer for Flow pre-print software, Sapphire metal AM printer, and Assure quality assurance and controls. GoEngineer will be VELO’s only distributor in the United States.

Indian electric boats to achieve zero emissions

Dec 17 – Cochin Shipyard, India’s largest shipbuilder, has asked Siemens Energy to equip India’s first fleet of 23 boats with electric propulsion drive train, integrated with batteries and vessel automation. Combining the electric propulsion drive trains, energy storage, and automation systems is expected to significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Terna BESS auction six times oversubscribed

Dec 16 – A pilot auction, held by the Italian TSO Terna, for battery energy storage systems (BESS) to provide reserve grid services has been six times oversubscribed. The auction was held with an expectation that around 230 MW would be on offer, but Terna received 1,327 MW worth of bids and eventually awarded contracts for 249.9 MW.

New £150m link to UK’s Easington terminal

Dec 15 – National Grid has completed a gas pipeline under the River Humber, build in 18 months and at a cost £150 million, as new link to the import terminal at Easington. Following commissioning, the pipeline is now operational and can now transport between 70 to 100 million cubic metres - around a quarter of Britain's gas needs.

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