Markets

US engineering giant GE has decided to exit the market for new-build coal power plants in a bid to transform the structure of the company. “We are focused on power generation businesses that have attractive economics and a growth trajectory,” said Russel Stokes, CEO of GE Power Portfolio.

Gazprom Export’s electronic sales platform is offering new trade tools, enabling buyers to choose from several delivery points and allowing volumes to vary on a daily basis. The pricing of these new contracts can now be linked to different energy carriers and gas indexes.

A cold start to winter across Northeast Asia could boost demand and widen spreads between the Japan Korea Marker (JKM) and the Dutch TTF trading hub for Nov-20 and Dec-20 contracts. If JKM-TTF spreads widen to $0.71 per MMBtu, Asian buyers will rush to snap up US spot LNG cargoes.

The U.S. economy still runs largely of fossil fuels, with petroleum, gas and coal accounting for 80% of both domestic energy production and consumption. Renewables account for just over 12% of the energy mix and nuclear for the remaining 8%, with little drive towards green energy sources except for California.

To reach net-zero emissions globally by 2070, the industry needs to “dramatically scale up clean energy technologies” particularly in areas beyond the power sector. The International Energy Agency (IEA) hence compiled over 800 options to curb emissions, e.g. shuttering inefficient coal power plants, steel mills and cement kilns.

Gas-fired power plants in China a struggling to stay afloat as profits are squeezed by Beijing’s reduction in regulated power tariffs. Since June, tariffs for electricity generated from gas have been cut by 16% to 28% in key coastal provinces to bolster energy-intensive industries amid trade tensions with the U.S.

Global gas demand is recovering from the Covid-19-related “dip” and grows robustly over the next 15 years, spurred by coal-to-gas switching in China, India and Southeast Asia, the Rapid Scenario of BP’s Global Energy Outlook shows. From 2035, however the impetus from Asia fades and gas demand falls back to 2018-levels.

Gas prices at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) are set to fall in the near term as the rebound in global LNG prices is encouraging more pipeline gas deliveries to Europe. Analysts at Energy Aspects see supply coming back from the Troll field in Norway, as well as from Algeria to Spain.

Rising use of coal bed methane (CBM) for power generation could make the global CBM market reach $25.2 billion by 2027, growing at an annual rate of 5.9%. CBM, a pure form of natural gas, is often supported by tax incentives and carbon offsets which increases the attractiveness of the fuel.

Spot price differentials between regional U.S. gas trading hub and the benchmark Henry Hub have narrowed in the first half of 2020 amid lower production and a Covid-19-related plunge in demand. Basis prices are set to stay narrow at most hubs, with Winter 2020/21 forward basis swaps for SoCal Citygate and Waha Hub averaging $1.11/MMBtu and -$0.47/MMBtu.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California’s largest utility, has been cutting power starting from Tuesday due to high winds and heat that could exacerbate the spread of wildfires. An all-time record heat across Southern California keeps fuelling fires, with up to 3 million residents at the brink of power outages.

U.S. liquefaction plant developer Venture Global sees LNG-fuelled power generation as “a counter” to China’s building spree of new coal power units. By turning to LNG, utilities can “regain control of the energy transition in the post-Covid-19 era," Venture Global co-founder Michael Sabel told the Gastech Virtual Summit.

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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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