Regulation & Policy

Flexible gas power plants will have to fill the capacity gap after Toshiba abandoned its £15 billion Moorside nuclear power venture in Cumbria, and will start to wind up NuGen in January. Moorside could have covered 7% of the UK’s electricity needs by 2025 – a share that now needs to be filled by fossil fuels, notably natural gas.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) has alerted state regulators about plans to retire four coal-fired power units by 2023, and another one by 2028. The utility’s latest Integrated Resource Plan details NIPSCO’s efforts to produce 65% of its electricity from renewables and at least 25% of its output from natural gas.

Weakened by losses in state elections in Hesse and Bavaria, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to give way for a new leader of her conservative CDU party. Merkel’s decision could help the ruling coalition regain focus and make important decisions on energy, climate and other key areas. Uncertainty abounds about the timeline for Germany's coal exit.

India's Prime Minister Narenda Modi has voiced concerns over excessive delays in joint venture projects with Sri Lanka. The neigbouring island nation is expected to fast-track a LNG-fuelled power plant after a coal power project was halted, just when the Indian JV was about to start construction. Despite approval for a $250 million LNG import terminal near Colombo, the Indian-Japanese JV has not yet followed through with the project.

Siemens and General Electric, two rival global engineering companies, are at loggerheads over a multi-million dollar power generation deal in Iraq. The Trump administration now intervened and put severe pressure on the Iraqi government to award part of a $15 billion contract – first discussed and pre-arranged with Siemens – to GE Power & Gas.

Though China’s energy market reform has made progress, and over 80% of gas consumed by industry is now being sold on market-orientated prices, leading economists are calling for further steps that reform the entire gas-value chain. “China could open the natural gas upstream and downstream markets and regulate the midstream pipeline transport market,” said ZhongXiang Zhang Professor at the Ma Yinchu School of Economics, Tianjin University.

Tender documents have been posted by the Public Gas Corporation of Cyprus (DEFA) in search for a counterparty that will supply and install a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) at the port of Vassilikos. The LNG import project comes at a cost of €300 million, with the imported volumes set to underpin the conversion of an oil-fired power station to run on natural gas.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Williams’ request to place its Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project into full service. Operations commenced as of Saturday, October 6, 2018, increasing design capacity of the Transco pipeline for natural gas from Marcellus Shale by 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), or approximately 15%, to 15.8 Bcf/d.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party, has set out plans to transform the British energy market and “kickstart a green jobs revolution” that is meant to create over 400,000 jobs. At his party’s annual conference, he also pledged to double the number of onshore wind farms, if Labour comes to power in case of a UK snap election.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has openly confronted Russia over its energy politics by claiming the Gazprom-led Nord Stream-2 project would distort European energy market. Perry said Nord Stream extension project “would concentrate two-thirds of the imports of Russian gas to Europe in a single pipeline, creating a choke point [exposed to potential] disruption."

At the UK's first Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, Prime Minister Theresa May has committed £106 million for R&D in green vehicles, new batteries and low carbon technology. May said the Britain will “lead from the front” on zero-emission cars to meet a target for UK roads to be free of petrol and diesel cars by 2050.

Construction on a disputed 303-mile stretch of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is proceeding after the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has modified its stop-work order and permitted works to resume. Next Era Energy and ConEdison Transmission, co-developers of the 2 Bcf/d interstate pipeline, now aim to have the overall project built and in service by late 2019.

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News in Brief

Siemens to service Kalamkas gas turbines

June 4 – JSC Mangistaumunaigaz, one of Kazakhstan’s largest oil and gas producers, has contracted Siemens to service two STG-800 gas turbines at a power plant, designed to meet the entire energy needs of the nearby Kalamkas oil and gas field. The nine-year contract covers turbine maintenance and eventual upgrades as well as remote monitoring of operations.

NamPower to invest $575m on grid expansion

June 3 – Namibia’s state-owned utility NamPower is planning to spend $575 million over the next three years in upgrading and extending its power transmission infrastructure. Namibia imports 60% of its total electrical energy requirement, primarily through bilateral contracts from South Africa’s Eskom and to a lesser extent, the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

UK TSOs call for £900m green gas investment

June 2 – Britain’s five gas network companies – Cadent, National Grid, NGN, SGN and Wales & West Utilities – have urged the Government to unlock over £900 million (€1bn) for new green gas infrastructure. Research by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) shows that if investment into zero-carbon hydrogen infrastructure started today, the UK could save energy bill payers £89 billion (€99.2bn) by 2044 – five years prior to its 2050 net-zero targets.

Exxon, INNIO about to launch gas engine oil

June 1 – ExxonMobil and INNIO have announced the imminent launch of their first co-engineered and co-branded natural gas engine oil. The U.S. oil major and the Austrian engine maker have just extended their global lubricant collaboration agreement for INNIO’s Jenbacher Type 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 natural gas engines.

BelGAS launches new pressure regulator

May 29 – BelGAS has introduced its new P1098 High-Capacity Pressure Reducing Regulator, a large-volume regulator for natural gas, propane and other fuels. The pilot-operated device has a large-area actuator diaphragm, allowing for fast and accurate response to modulating gas flow conditions. It is adaptable for low to extra-high pressure—up to 400 psi main valve inlet.

GE to sell lightning business

May 28 – GE has signed a definitive agreement to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems, a provider of smart homes. CEO H. Lawrence Culp called the divestment “an important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company.” The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020.

China’s fuel demand recovers

May 27 – The Chinese government has lifted restrictions on private travel since April which pushed up demand for transport fuels. Gasoline demand has recovered particularly fast and is expected to return to last year’s levels by June 2020. Wood Mackenzie estimates gasoline consumption to reach 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter, down just a 0.8% year on year. Diesel or gasoil demand is expected to reach 3.4 million b/d in Q2 2020, a 3% decline year-on-year. Overall, China’s oil demand is seen rise a “modest” 13.6 million bpd, or 2.3%, in the second half of 2020.

Wärtsilä to retrofit CHP in Spain

May 26 – The Finish engine maker Wärtsilä has bagged an order to supply and install a 34SG gas-fuelled engine generating set for Rofeica Energia's combined heat and power plant in Barcelona, Spain. The installation of the gas engine will allow Rofeica to switch the CHP from heavy fuel oil to gas-fuelled operation, reducing emissions.

New York body rejects William’s plans for gas pipeline expansion

May 21 – New York’s and New Jersey’s state bodies for environmental conservation have rejected Williams’ plans for the Northeast Supply Enhancement project, designed to transport 400 million cubic feet per day of gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The state bodies had already denied wetland permits in 2019, but Williams pipeline subsidiary Transco filed another application with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), arguing firm services under the project were agreed with UK’s National Grid for customers in New York City districts of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

UK inflation at 4-year low amid falling energy costs

May 20 – The rate of inflation in the UK has fallen to a four-year low as the pandemic pushed down global oil and fuel prices which translate into lower wholesale power prices. The consumer price index fell to an annual rate of 0.8% in April, down from 1.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deficit grows in German green energy fund

May 19 – German regional grid operator TransnetBW has warned of a growing shortfall in the country’s fund for green energy sources, financed under the so-called renewable energy (EEG) levy. TransnetBW, the TSO in southwest Germany, said “due to the EEG cost allocations defined for 2020, we anticipate there will be a negative year end bank account balance in the high three-digit million euro range for 2020.”

Spanish gas companies ‘resilient’

May 18 – Spain’s regulated gas companies “should prove to be resilient” to external shocks arising from coronavirus containment measures, Standard & Poor’s analysis finds, calculating with an average drop in EBITBA at less than 3% in 2020. A new remuneration framework for 2021-2026, recently enacted by the Spanish government, provides enhanced visibility rated grid operators amid the pandemic.

German electricity prices second highest in EU

May 15 – Taxes and the renewable energy surcharge have pushed up Germany’s household electricity prices to the second highest level in Europe, topped only by prices in Denmark. While Danish households paid 29.2 Euros per 100 kWh on average in the second half of 2019, prices in Germany averaged 28.7 Euros, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat.

Calpine’s Q1 earnings fall

May 14 – Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity from gas and geothermal, has reported a net income of $128 million for the first quarter of 2020, down from $175 million in the prior year period. Lower commodity margins and unfavourable change in income taxes were partially offset by earnings from hedge positions for the three month ending March 31.

Siemens to supply hybrid plant in the Philippines

May 13 – Berkley Energy has contracted Siemens Energy to build a hybrid power project on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. The project links 16 MW wind power with battery storage, stabilizing energy supply in a remote location with a weak link to the grid and reducing its dependence on diesel.

U.S. energy emissions fall

May 12 – Energy-related carbon emissions in the United States have fallen more than energy consumption, down 2.8% over the course of last year to 5,130 million metric tons (MMmt). Power sector emissions were down 145 MMmt, due to a switch from coal to gas and renewables. In April 2020, emissions experienced another unprecedented fall in due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

MAN expands Omincare concept

March 11 – MAN Energy Solutions’ service brand has extended its ‘PrimeServ Omnicare’ concept from turbomachinery to the marine and power segments. The one-stop service solution is now also applicable for maintenance of third-party machinery, including engines, turbochargers and related auxiliaries.