Regulation & Policy

The Chinese government is watering down its pledges to reign in climate change and focuses on stepping up energy imports instead. Over the past year, China’s has demand surged 15% and a big part of these additional needs will soon be met through the Russian ‘Power of Siberia’ pipeline project as well as more LNG.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to initiate more rollback regulations in favour of coal in the power sectors. The proposals included loosening the New Source Performance Standards which mandate how much CO2 new power plants can emit. However, these rollbacks are unlikely to stop the demise of the U.S. coal industry as natural gas is outcompeting coal on cost.

Adamant to end coal-burn in Israel’s power sector, the energy minister Yuval Steinitz foresees natural gas to make up 83% of the country’s energy mix, and renewables account for the remainder. If implemented, Israel’s new energy policy would herald a quantum shift in the county’s resource use given that the transport sector is also meant to run entirely on gas.

Distributed energy sources will be tested as a way to restart of electricity supplies under a £11.7 million project, partly funded by the UK energy regulator Ofgem. The project will see National Grid, SP Energy Networks and TNEI explore how distributed gensets can be put to use to get the grid up and running again, should a ‘Black Start’ event occur.

German authorities want to test the country’s resilience to a severe natural gas shortage with a large-scale emergency drill held over two days, the energy regulator BNetzA and Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs & Energy (BMWi) announced. “Germany’s gas supply is very secure and reliable,” said BNetzA head Jochen Homann. “However, it is prudent to be also prepared for unlikely emergencies.”

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has extended the deadline for a much-awaited report from the country’s coal exit commissions. Elections in three coal states in eastern Germany in 2019, as well as lobbying from utilities prompted her to effectively axe the opportunity of having a report on pre-2020 action ready before the COP24 climate meeting in Poland in early December.

Leaked drafts of a report of Germany’s coal commission show the country’s coal exist will likely be delayed to 2022, rather than starting in 2020. The pathway of the coal exit is now in focus, rather than the exit date. Forced plant closure should be avoided, the commission said, stressing shut-downs need to agreed with operators who will claim compensation.

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.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.