Markets

Japanese LNG imports notched up 0.3% in April, after dropping for five straight months over slowing demand for thermal energy as the restart of nuclear reactors progresses and coal outcompetes regasified LNG on price. Nine of Japan's 54 nuclear power stations were re-started last month, although only seven are currently operating.

Indian imports of LNG increased 9.75% in April, spurred by a drop in the costs of shipment and tepid demand from the power sector. Demand is bound to rise further if the Government will allow power plants running on regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to sell electricity into the higher-priced spot market.

Russia’s Federal Agency for Mineral Resources has approved Gazprom’s latest gas discoveries on the Yamal Peninsular, the Dinkov and Nyarmeyskoye fields, containing over 500 Bcm of proven reserves combined. The finds underpin Gazprom’s plans to produce up 360 Bcm/y from its 32 fields in the region, with most of the volume designated for export through the Nord Stream pipeline.

Accelerating its green energy transition, Xcel Energy has announced plans to retire its last coal power plants in the Upper Midwest a decade earlier than scheduled. Instead, the utility will expand renewables and operate its Monticello nuclear plant until at least 2040.

Singapore’s big three banks – DBS Group Holdings (DBS), United Overseas Bank (UOB) and the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) have each announced they are ceasing financing for new coal-fired power plants. With this move, the banks accelerate the region’s fuel switch to natural gas. Echoing an initially largely European phenomenon, the latest Asian financial exodus highlights growing regional concerns with stranded coal power asset and air pollution.

YPF, Argentine’s state-run oil and gas producer, is seeking to sell a partial cargo from its Tango floating liquefaction unit at Bahia Blanca in a first step to turn the country into a major shale gas exporter. Growing production from the Vaca Muerta shale gas play is meant to cover domestic demand and leave a surplus for export.

Stockpiles of thermal coal in the United States have fallen to the lowest level in a decade as more and more coal-fired power plants retire and the lost capacity is being replaced with gas-fired plants and renewables. Coal stockpiles decreased to 98.7 million tons in February 2019, their lowest value in more than a decade, and the EIA expects them to remain relatively low for the rest of this year.

Texas is at risk of power emergency alerts this summer, and may even face rotating blackouts, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) warned, as the current 8.6% electric reserve margin may prove insufficient to meet strong electric demand growth. Power grid operators typically aim for reserve margins of 10% to 15% and ERCOT itself had set a target of 13.75%.

Two Czech billionaires and energy infrastructure investors are understood to have teamed up with state-run CEZ to bid or Alpiq’s gas- and coal-fired power plants in the Czech Republic. Having posted high losses in 2018, the Swiss firm Alpiq has been considering the sale of some power plants.

The Government of Morocco has made “positive efforts” to improve energy access for all citizens and end fossil fuel subsidies to establish a more competitive energy pricing regime, said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). With the exception of bottled butane, fuel prices are now linked to the international market.

The power sector is attracting more investment than the oil and gas industry, with developers having spent over $1.8 trillion globally in 2018 on energy-related projects. Though the overall spent has stabilized after three years of decline, investors increasingly focus on projects with shorter lead times, the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2019 report finds.

General Electric has outperformed its rivals Siemens and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) by winning the most orders for HA-class gas turbines in Q1-2019, according to the latest McCoy Power Report. GE booked six orders, up from zero a year ago – MHPS won five orders, while Siemens booked four.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has said it expects to produce enough natural gas from its new Assa North/Ohaji South development to provide fuel for generating about 2,400 MW of electricity. The move is part of Shell’s strategy to shift to a more gas-orientated business, said SPDC’s general manager, Igo Weli.

The coal-to-gas switch is gathering pace in the United States. Natural gas will provide the largest share of U.S. generation this summer at 40%, up from 39% last summer, EIA projections show. Coal, meanwhile, is seen losing market share to 25%, down from 28% a year earlier.

The intensifying trade war between the US and China is starting to impact shipments of US LNG to China and slows Beijing’s efforts to switch from coal to gas use in the power sector. Only four US LNG cargoes have been delivered to China since September, when a 10% tariffs came into effect. Now, Beijing hiked this levy to 25% - in retaliation to Washington’s move to expand import tariffs on Chinese goods.

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News in Brief

Bonny Train-7 to cost $6.5bn

Sept 16 – Nigeria LNG is preparing to add a seventh processing train to Bonny LNG, bringing total capacity from 22 million tons per annum (mtpa) to 30 mtpa. Estimated to cost $6.5 billion, Bonny Train-6 will include a new liquefaction unit, a storage and a condensate tank as well as three gas turbine generators.

Schneider to complete L&T takeover by early 2020

Sept 13 – Venturing into India, Schneider Electric hopes to finalise the Rs 14,000 crore acquisition of Larsen & Toubro's electrical and automation business by early 2020. After the transaction is completed, Schneider will have a 65% stake in L&T, while the remainder will be held by Temasek.

MHI to advice China on energy conservation

Sept 12 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Thermal Systems, part of MHI, has set up a joint venture withan affiliate of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) to perform technical consulting for energy conservation projects in China. The focus of SGCC lies on building new decentralized power stations, biomass-derived power gensets and energy saving solutions.

Tender extended

Sept 11 – Turkmengas has extended a tender for the overhaul of the gas turbine engines of the NK-12ST and NK-14ST brands. Bidders need to pay to receive the tender documents, and then submit a written application to Turkmenistan’s state gas company.

Gas power units to buffer Germany’s coal exit

Sept 10 – Electricity output of Germany’s fleet of gas-fired power plants has risen to a over 13,5 billion kilowatt-hours in the three months from June to August, Fraunhofer ISE figures show. These productivity gains put CCGTs in pole position to balance supply swings in connection with the German coal exit.

Power of Siberia gas flows to start on Dec 1

Sept 9 – Russian gas supplies to China via the eastern route are going to start on December 1, 2019, Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller told his counterpart at CNPC in Beijing. The huge Chayandinskoye field, containing some 1.2 trillion cbm of gas, had already been connected to the 38 Bcm per year ‘Power of Siberia’ gas pipeline in August.

Hurricane Dorian causes havoc in the Bahamas

Sept 6 – In the aftermath of Hurricane Doran, a Category 5 storm, Bahamas Power and Light has said there is a total blackout in New Providence, the most populous island of the archipelago. Dorian made landfall twice on Sunday, ripping off roofs and electricity lines. In most parts, electricity has not been restored.

LNG cargoes via Bab-el Mandeb decrease

Aug 30 – Northbound LNG shipments via Bab el-Mandeb, a sea route chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, have fallen over the past three years as Egypt imports less natural gas from the Persian Gulf. In 2015 and 2016, both Jordan and Egypt imported up to 1.4 Bcf/d of LNG into Red Sea ports but these shipments fell sharply following the development of large gas finds in the Mediterranean.

Hokuriku Electric buys LNG cargo

Aug 29 – Japanese utility Hokuriku Electric has purchased an LNG cargo for delivery in November as soaring temperatures drew down gas in storage for the autumn. The cargo is understood to be scheduled for delivery in the second half of November from Malaysia’s Petronas and may well be destined for Hokuriku Electric’s first LNG-fired power generation unit,  the Toyama Shinko plant.

Technip spins off LNG activities

Aug 28 – TechnipFMC, has decided to spin off its European-based engineering and construction operations into a separate business, leaving the American half of the firm as an equipment supplier to the oil and gas sector. The split is due to be completed in the first half of 2020.

FLNG power market to top $930m by 2023

Aug 27 – The global market for floating LNG power vessel is projected to reach $ 931.6 million by 2023, up from $ 860.1 million seen last year, according to ReportsnReports. Major vendors of FLNG power vessels are Siemens, MAN, Wärtsilä, Caterpilar and GE which are targeting to use the technology to supply decentralized power to island nations in Southeast Asia and along the coast of sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.

EIA monitors grid hourly

Aug 26 – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has launched a beta release of its hourly electric grid monitor. The enhanced version analyses hourly generation by energy source and hourly sub-regional demand for certain balancing authorities in the Lower 48 states.

Hiroshima waste-to-energy plant gets upgrade

Aug 23 – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has been chosen to upgrade and refurbish the combustion facilities at a waste to energy plant in Hiroshima. The Naka plant in Minamiyoshijima, Naka-ku, has a total waste treatment capacity of 600 tonnes per day and generates 15.2 MW of electricity to power the equipment in the factory, while selling the remainder to the grid.

China eases ban on coal power

Aug 22 – The Chinese National Energy Administration (NEA) has allowed 11 provinces to resume building coal power plants in a move that lies bare the country’s dependency on thermal coal even after several hundred billion dollars were invested cleaner energy sources, notable wind, solar and natural gas. Areas earmarked by NEA for new coal power plants include Qinghai, Chongqing, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou and Henan.

Blackout after Didcot demolition

Aug 21 – Yet another blackout hit thousands of British households early Sunday after the demolition of cooling towers at the disused Didcot-A power station in Oxfordshire. Moments after the explosion at 7am to bring down the cooling towers some nearby electricity poles and overhead transmission lines caught fire, causing a sudden loss of electricity that lasted for one hour and twenty minutes.

Fuel cell vehicle market gathers speed

Aug 20 – Sales revenue from fuel cell vehicles will soar to $255.2 billion in 2032, up from just $400 million last year, driven by fast growth in China and wider Asia. Hydrogen fuel cells achieve an energy conversion efficiency of 50% to 60% amid zero emissions and a low maintenance cost thanks to the engine’s modular design.

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.