Chesapeake Energy has slashed payment of dividends to zero. The Oklahoma-based oil and gas developer had started this year with $8.92 billion in debt but stressed the suspension of dividends does not imply it will default under any of the company's debt instruments.

Recession is looming large in Italy, as the pandemic has harmed the country’s economy and slashed energy demand. Gas-burn in the power sector fell 10% in the first quarter of 2020, and the Gas Exporting Countries Secretariat (GEFC) sees a sharp decline in imports, notably of U.S. LNG.

European responses to contain the coronavirus accelerate the electricity system transition by a decade, Wärtsilä analysis finds. Coal generation collapsed by almost one third in the four weeks prior to April 10 while renewables contributed half of the reduced EU electricity demand, down by on tenth due to the lockdowns.

Germany should not focus exclusively on ‘green hydrogen’, made with renewable electricity, but start decarbonising LNG pipeline gas as well, Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck. The Nord Stream-2 pipeline could run on 80% hydrogen, he said to increase public acceptance for the project.

Peaking power plants in France, mostly gas combined-cycle units, are lying idle in recent days as power demand from industries fell 26.4% due to the lockdown, extended until at least May 11. Spark spreads, the profit margin for burning gas to generate electricity, are deep in the red.

As the U.S. has become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, grid operators have seen not only reduced weekday electricity demand relative to expectations for this time of year and current weather but also changes in daily electricity usage profiles. The morning peak, for example, is now later and with a more gradual ramp.

Debt financiers of U.S. fracking firms are preparing to directly manage distressed energy assets to avoid debt write-offs in the event of bankruptcies. Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Bank are understood to set up holding companies for distressed oil and gas producers as the industry owes over $200 billion to lenders.

OPEC producers and Russia, supported by the U.S. and Mexico, have agreed to cut output by about 10%, or 9.7 million barrels per day, after demand slumped due to coronavirus lockdowns. Though oil prices did not jump in early trading in Asia today, Wood Mackenzie says the supply cuts will lift oil and gas prices “significantly” starting from the second quarter.

Demand destruction due to lockdowns has shifted the relative economics of Europe's fossil power generators towards gas. Clean spark spreads are 10-14 EUR/MWh higher than dark spreads, but lower power prices mean it's still insufficient to see positive margins for CCGTs in Germany or France.

As China returns to work and energy demand recovers, four U.S. LNG cargoes are en route to Chinese import terminals. Two cargoes are seen heading for Tianjin and analysts suspect the buyers are CNOOC or Sinopec, which are likely to use part of the regasified LNG for power generation.

Lockdowns will lead to more hours of negative wholesale electricity prices at the European Energy Exchange (EEX) this year. With many industries shut, energy use in Germany is forecast to fall 6% while wind and solar power output remains high, pushing prices below zero.

Though China’s economy and gas demand is picking up, the coronavirus pandemic chocked energy consumption elsewhere. Delivered gas prices into Northeast Asia today fell below $2.40/MMBtu, hence Wood Mackenzie warns spot LNG prices in Asia might soon drop below breakeven costs of U.S. upstream companies, causing production shut-ins.

Page 9 of 221

News in Brief

Tokyo Gas snaps up US shale assets

July 31 – The Japanese utility Tokyo Gas has agreed to raise its stake in the U.S. firm Castleton Resources to 70 percent from 46 percent to increase its foothold in shale gas production in Texas and Louisiana.  Castleton Resources holds acreage in the Haynesville and Cotton Valley formations. The transaction is scheduled to be completed on August 14.

Electrical PE market to grow 1.7% through 2027

July 30 – The market for electrical protective equipment (PE) in North America, valued at $2,787 million in 2019, is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 1.7 percent to reach $3,163 million by 2027. Main growth drivers, according to ResearchandMarkets, are ongoing power transmission projects in the context with U.S. LNG export infrastructure expansions.

GE wins turbine order from Italian paper mill

July 29 – DS Smith Paper Italia has ordered a GE LM6000PF aero-derivative gas turbine for its paper mill in Lucca, Italy. The paper mill is currently powered by two aero-derivative turbines, and the additional unit will increase plant efficiency by 2%, while assuring steam supply for the industrial process.

Aceleron secures £2m green energy investment

July 28 – UK battery developer Aceleron today announced receipt of a £2 million equity investment from BGF and Mercia Asset Management. Aceleron is BGF’s second investment into a pure clean technology, signalling a shift in behaviour as more and more fund managers support a green recovery and the UK’s policy of net-zero carbon by 2050.

NRG buys Centrica’s North American arm for over $3.6bn

July 27 – U.S. utility NRG Energy has agreed with Centrica to acquire the latter’s North American subsidiary Direct Energy for $3.625 billion in an all-cash transaction. The transaction will diversify NRG’s earnings by adding more than three million retail customers and generate an estimated $740 million in adjusted EBITDA upon closing.

Siemens rolls out Comfy app

July 24 – Siemens is deploying its workplace experience solution Comfy across its global offices, including major utility customers. The aim is to equip approximately 600 company locations by October 2020.

BlackRock puts $18bn into sustainable investment

July 23 – Sustainability aspects are poised to bring about "fundamental change" to the way financial market actors operate, said Philipp Hildebrand, vice head of U.S. investment company BlackRock. About 18 billion dollars have been put into BlackRock's sustainable investment products since the beginning of 2020, he told the German business daily FAZ, arguing this would be "only the beginning" of a much larger shift in investment practices.

Vaca Muerta output slows

July 22 – Argentina has resorted to importing LNG for the Southern Hemisphere winter as domestic production at the vast Vaca Muerta shale formation fell in the first half of 2020. State-owned IEASA purchased 28 LNG cargoes at average prices of $2.87 million British thermal units (mmBtu).

GE to implement air quality control systems in India

July 21 – GE Power India Ltd (GEPIL) has won three contracts with a combined value of $112.57 million to supply air quality control systems. One semi-dry flue-gas desulfurization (FDG) unit will be installed for Hindalco Industries’ 1x150MW power plant at the Aditya aluminium smelter in Sambalpur. A wet FDGs system will be installed on behalf of NTPC for their Feroze Gandhi Unchahar thermal power plant (2x210MW plus 2x210 MW plus 1x210MW units) in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

Wärtsilä CEO sees “tough” H2 ahead

July 20 – Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola has told analysts he sees a “tough second half of the year ahead,” as the Finish manufacturer seeks to mitigate Covid-related business disruptions. In the segment of up to 500 MW, Wärtsilä’s market share fell from 9% to 8%, while orders for gas- and liquid- power plants increased by 1% to 17.8 GW during the twelve-month period ending in March 2020.

GE launches update to digital plant software

July 17 – GE Digital has unveiled updates to its digital power plant software: Proficy Plant Applications, Proficy Operations Hub, Proficy Historian, and Proficy CSense. The software accelerates digitization for industries and integrates related onsite power generation units.

Germany EEG fund slips into the red

July 16 – Germany's green energy fund, funded through the renewable energy surcharge (EEG levy), has slipped into the red for the first time since 2013, according to TSO data. The account, funded by end-customers through a surcharge on their power bill, fell from about €2 billion in available funds to €-1.16 billion in the first six months of 2020.

China seen overtake Japan as worlds’ largest LNG buyer by 2025

July 15 – The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects China to overtake Japan as the world’s biggest LNG buyer with imports of 128 Bcm a year by 2025, equivalent to around 174 million tonnes. However, IEA analysts cautioned this scenario is “highly dependent on China’s future policy direction” and whether that includes an ongoing push for coal-to-gas switching for industry, residential heating and power generation.

IEA stages Clean Energy Transitions Summit

July 14 – Ministers from dozens of countries, accounting for over 80% of the world economy, have participated in the first Clean Energy Transitions Summit organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said there “clearly is momentum” behind a sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants agreed to reconvene in mid-2021.

Siemens Energy to exit coal

Jul 13 – Newly formed technology company Siemens Energy wants to phase-out any operations and technology to related to coal-fired power generation, CEO Joe Kaeser said, without giving a specific timeline. Siemens had been harshly criticised earlier this year for participating in the Adani coal mine project in Australia.

Statkraft, GE enhance GB grid stability

July 10 – Statkraft and GE Power Conversion are working together to stabilise Britain’s power grid. To that end, GE will manufacture and install two Rotating Stabiliser synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray. Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts (two at Keith and two at Lister Drive) by National Grid ESO (NGESO) earlier this year.

Siemens Energy spin-off approved

July 9 – A large majority of Siemens shareholders have voted to approve the spin-off of the company’s energy business. The spin-off was approved by 99.36 percent of capital stock represented at today’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.

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