Regulation & Policy

The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has come forward with an ambitious ‘EU Green Deal’ that seeks to outdo the ‘Green New Deal’ proposed by the U.S. Government. The European Green Deal envisages Europe to become “climate-neutral” by 2050, which requires a 55% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, replacing the current 40% goal.

Efforts to develop Vaca Muerta, Argentina’s vast shale reserves in northern Patagonia, have slowed as national energy companies await direction from the incoming President. Alberto Fernández, who will take office on December 10, has yet to decide whether to keep focused on pushing up domestic oil and gas production and LNG exports.

Electricity prices have fallen in the course of Germany's Energiewende while taxes and levies increased substantially. Cheap renewable electricity floods the market, benefiting mainly large and energy-intensive industrial companies because many can source their electricity at wholesale prices.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she disapproves of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) decision to ban funding for natural gas projects by the end of 2021. Speaking in Parliament, Merkel said Germany would rely on gas as a bridging technology as it exits both nuclear and coal.

New EU-wide emission rules for large combustion plants, known as BREF, will take effect in 2021. Rising carbon prices - last seen trading at €25.01 per ton, combined with falling renewable energy costs will likely make European utilities opt for closing coal plants, instead of retrofitting them.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) has listed 17 renewable Power-to-Gas (P2G) projects to be built by 2025, and 19 such projects by 2032. For the first time, ENTSO’s latest development plan includes P2G and acknowledges them as ‘Projects of Common Interest’.

Germany first major climate law passed Parliament on Friday and is now being debated by the Bundesrat. The federal state council needs to give consent to parts of the reforms, notably tax support of energy-efficient modernisation of buildings, the rise in commuter allowance related to a new national CO2 price on transport emissions, and a cut in VAT tax on train tickets.

RWE, Germany’s largest electricity provider, might opt to divest its 70% shareholding the Denizli gas power plant (775 MW) in Turkey, Reuters reported, after the utility posted a 20 million Euro fall in EBIT at its lignite and nuclear business unit in January-September – a start contrast with its 38 million Euro profit a year ago.

The German government has come under pressure from climate lawyers to ban all fossil fuel projects from the list of those eligible for European Investment Bank (EIB) support. Luxemburg-based EIB deferred its decision to ban loans to fossil-fuel projects until mid-November after Germany had urged the bank to keep financing gas-fired power projects.

Payouts of about £1 billion under the GB capacity market scheme are due in November. But this is “likely to prove problematic,” analysts warned, as some suppliers may not have been billing large customers – particularly those on “pass-through” contracts – during the EU’s earlier suspension of the scheme.

Just weeks before the UK goes to the polls on 12 December, the government has suspended fracking as analysts found it is not possible to predict the size and frequency of earthquakes caused by this practice. Activity by Cuadrilla had resulted in a 2.9 magnitude tremor at its site in Lancashire in August.

Striving to meet China’s hunger for gas, the government in Beijing is stepping up subsidies to boost domestic production and reduce the country’s dependency on imported pipeline gas and LNG. New incentives are set for producing gas from tight formation through to 2023.

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News in Brief

Tula dDSF helps curb NOx emissions by 74%

April 15 – Tula Technologies, a leader in propulsion technology, and Cummins have showcased the results of a study on the effectiveness of Tula’s diesel Dynamic Skip Fire (dDSF) in reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 74% and carbon dioxide emissions by 5% on a Cummins X15 HD Efficiency Series diesel engine. In comparison with current engine technologies and modifications to the thermal management techniques, use of the dDSF system saved 20% in fuel and related costs.

Marubeni starts EPC works for Rabigh IPP

April 14 – Japan’s Marubeni Corp has been granted limited-recourse financing for the 300 MW Rabigh solar IPP project in Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Province. The loan was granted by Mizuho Bank, Al Rajhi Banking and Investment and Japan’s Bank for International Cooperation. EPC work on the project is scheduled to start in early May. All electricity from the Rabigh IPP will be sold to the Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) for 25 years starting with the plant’s commissioning.

BASF’s power demand set to triple

April 13 – Chemicals group BASF expects its electricity consumption will triple to over 44 TWh per year by 2035, rising from 14.7 TWh last year. The growth estimate is based on demand forecasts for Ludwigshafen, the group’s biggest site, where energy demand is anticipated to rise from 6 TWh to around 20 TWh. Currently, BASF meets most of its electricity needs with combined-cycle power stations, many of which are installed on or nearby its chemical production sites. The company has site in 390 locations worldwide.

Romgaz pulls the plug on Iernut CCGT

April 12 – Romania’s Romgaz has terminated a contract for the construction of a 430 MW combined-cycle power plant in Iernut, in Romania’s central Transylvania region. The construction consortium consisted of DuroFelguera and Romelectrico.

Wärtsilä test bio LNG fuel at Coast Guard vessel

April 9 – Gasum, Finland’s state gas company and biogas refiner is supplying Wärtsilä with green fuels that are currently being tested in a Coast Guard patrol vessel. The 96 metre long ship, the named ‚Turva’, is fitted with Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines. Use of Bio LNG, a 100% renewable fuel, emits no particulate matter, and close to zero nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx) when burnt and has over 90% lower CO2 emission compared to conventional fuels.

ACWA Power signs PPA for Kom Ombo plant in Egypt

April 8 – Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power has finalised a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) for the 200MW Kom Ombo PV plant. Financial close is now scheduled for Q3-2021, developers said, provided they will obtain $40 million in debt financing and a $14 million equity bridge loan from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as well as a $27.2 million loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Scottish network charges keep rising

April 7 – Network charges payable by Scottish generators continue to rise. According to National Grid’s 5-year view Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges, annual TNUoS costs for a typical 40 MW onshore wind site in Northern Scotland will rise to £1.28 million by 2025-26 – a 180% increase in nine years. Critics warn some developers see these costs as a potential investment barrier which could undermine the UK’s path to net zero emissions.

LYTT launches well visualisation dashboard

April 6 – The British software and analytics company LYTT has launched a cloud-based visualization dashboard, enabling operators of oil & gas wells to visualise the operation and resource base of reservoirs, Insights are derived from acoustic and temperature data sourced from fiber optic sensors that allow oil & gas to “see exactly what is happening downhole.“

PIC Group to staff North Valmy Generating Station

April 1 – Atlanta-based NV Energy has awarded PIC Group the staffing services agreement to help with the selection of key personnel at its 552 MW North Valmy Generating Station in Valmy, Nevada through 2025. Under the agreement, PIC Group will also provide Operation & Maintenance (O&M) services up until the plant’s staggered retirement starting from 2022.

MHIET launches new 2,000 kVA genset

March 31 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engine & Turbocharger (MHIET) has developed a 2,000 kVA diesel generator with the highest output level in a Japanese-made packaged generator. The genset is designed for use in critical infrastructure such as factories, hospitals and data centers. Sales of the new system will officially begin on April 1.

NextDecade sells $10m of Series C stock

March 30 – Houston-based NextDecade Corp has agreed to sell $10 million of Series C preferred stock in a private placement to OGCI Climate Investments. Earlier this month, NextDecade announced its subsidiary NEXT Carbon Solutions is developing one of the largest CCS projects in North America at Rio Grande LNG, designed to enable the capture and permanent geologic storage of more than five million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Linde to help Gazprom advance Amur GPP

March 29 – German engineering and industrial gases company Linde has been contracted by Gazprom to help fast-track works at the Amur Gas Processing Plant (GPP) in the Russian Far East and build a new natural gas liquefaction and GPP at Ust-Luga west of St. Petersburg. Gazprom underlined the Ust-Luga complex will be “the largest in northwest Europe in terms of LNG production at 13 mtpa” and a gas processing capacity of up to 45 Bcm of gas per year.

Spectrolytic improves turbine oil monitoring

March 29 – Edinburg-based Spectrolytic has developed an in-line measurement system to monitor turbine oils by streaming key operating data to a cloud-based control centre which provides the customer with real-time process control. Called Fieldkit, the plug-and-play system can be integrated into the main oil flow of the engine or in a bypass flow from the oil sump or tank.

Toshiba recycles CO2 into carbon monoxide

March 26 – Toshiba has developed the world’s most efficient electro-catalyst technology for converting CO2 into carbon monoxide (CO), a raw material for fuel and chemicals. The electro-catalyst has the size of a C5 envelope, operates at room temperature, and can process up to 1 ton of CO2 a year.

Gazprom and TMK/ChelPip discuss future cooperation

Mar 25 – The heads of Gazprom and TMK, one of Russia's largest producers of steel pipe coatings, are in talks about their future cooperation following TMK’s merger with ChelPip. Alexey Miller and Dmitry Pumpyansky discussed how the merged company could best meet Gazprom’s needs with regards to pipeline supplies for wells and transportation of hydrocarbons, as well as technical maintenance and support and repair services.

ADM develops Barracuda oil and gas field

Mar 24 – ADM Energy has agreed to invest up to US$1.3 million in developing the Barracuda oil and gas condensate field by acquiring a 51% interest in K.O.N.H. UK. Named OML 141, the field is situated in shallow waters offshore Nigeria. Developers said they intend to provide or procure funding in return for 235% of approved Capex to be recovered plus a 15% net profit interest (NPI) from the field.

Wärtsilä services engines at NYK’s LNG carriers

Mar 23 – Japan-based NYK LNG Ship Management has awarded Wärtsilä two long-term Optimised Maintenance agreement. The 15-year contracts cover Wärtsilä’s 50DF dual-fuel engines and other equipment installed on two LNG carrier vessels. The deal took effect from January 2021.

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