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Russian oil output hits 11-month high in March
Russia’s oil output edged up in March to an 11-month high of 10.97 million barrels per day (bpd), slightly above a limit agreed under a global supply pact, energy ministry data showed on Monday. It was the first increase in Russian output since December and the highest level since output of 11 million bpd in April 2017. Under an agreement by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers that came into effect last year, Moscow pledged to cut output by 300,000 bpd from a baseline of 11.247 million bpd based on its output in October 2016. The Energy Ministry said that in March it cut output by around 280,220 bpd from the October 2016 level. “Russia reached the production cuts compliance (with the OPEC deal) of 93.4 percent. The fluctuations of the liquid hydrocarbons in March were due to a high demand for gas and seasonality on the domestic market,” Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement. “Russia is fully committed to reaching the balance on the oil market,” he added. Russian output in March rose from 10.95 million bpd in February. In tonnes, it totaled 46.39 million versus 41.836 million in February. Russian oil pipeline exports in March stood at 4.163 million bpd, slightly up from 4.162 million bpd in February. The current global supply deal lasts until the end of 2018. OPEC states, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers agreed to cut supplies from January 2017 to lift oil prices that plunged from above $110 a barrel in 2014 to below $30 in 2016. Oil is currently traded just below $70 per barrel. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering a deal to greatly extend the short-term alliance on oil curbs. The Kremlin has said Russia and Saudi Arabia have been discussing a “wide range of options” on cooperation in the global oil market. According to the energy ministry data, Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft and No.2 producer Lukoil both increased their output by 0.1 percent last month from February. Output at Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) projects declined by 0.6 percent in March as plans for an output rise at the ExxonMobil-led Sakhalin-1 project have been delayed. Russian natural gas production totaled 65.68 billion cubic meters (bcm) last month, or 2.12 bcm a day, versus 59.23 bcm in February.
Solar seeks its place under Spanish sun
March 28, 2018 Wednesday 6:24 PM By BSS/AFP
Sun-drenched Spain should be a natural for solar energy, and it is here that the technology is making an effort to stand on its feet financially without subsidies. Investors are now betting again on solar power generation in Spain, which for a decade was in the shadows as the country cut subsidies for the clean but expensive source of energy. A plunge in the price of solar panels and lower construction costs has changed the maths, and new projects are moving forward again. Iberdrola, Spain`s largest power company, this month launched a solar project with a capacity of 425 megawatts. And last week Spanish renewable energy firm Cox Energy signed a deal for the construction of 495 megawatts of capacity in Spain, and another 165 megawatts in neighbouring Portugal, in a 400-million-euro ($490 million) investment. Companies have sought authorisation for solar power projects across Spain with a total capacity of 24,000 megawatts, according to the director general of Spanish solar power lobby UNEF, Jose Donoso. Subsidies stumble That is the equivalent of 14 of the latest generation nuclear power plants that France hopes to launch later this year, after a decade of costly construction. Spain was one of the pioneers of solar power-generation. Subsidies in the form of a high purchase price for solar power lured investors and homeowners to install solar panels, triggering an installation boom in 2008 that saw Spain`s installed capacity jump five times to 3,355 megawatts. But the global financial crisis, which ravaged Spain via a collapse of the property market, led to a bust in new projects and the cash-strapped government was quickly forced to abandon the subsidies. Just 49 megawatts was added in 2015, and 55 megawatts in 2016, before picking up to 135 megawatts in 2017, according to UNEF figures. However in Germany, which kept up its subsidies, solar power swelled by six times although the country does not receive as much sun as Spain, meaning each panel produces less electricity. The country now has more than 40,000 megawatts of solar power, compared with 5,400 in Spain at the end of 2015.  But the sector has undergone "a complete reversal in less than six months", according to Donoso. Blazing return One reason is that solar panels can now produce electricity at a lower price than traditional power sources such as coal, gas and nuclear. The cost of solar power production plunged 73 percent between 2010 and 2017, according the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), which predicts it will continue to fall. Companies also realised the projects didn`t need guaranteed prices from the state. A tender for solar power projects launched by the government in July had so many bids that the price was capped at 30-31 euros per megawatt hour. According to the European statistical agency Eurostat, non-residential customers in Spain paid an average 107 euros per megawatt hour last year. Investors concluded that "it is better to run risks in the market then depend on regulated demand", Donoso said. Moreover, investors into renewables know how much construction and operation will cost them, while traditional power stations have only a limited ability to lock in prices for fuel. "It is much more profitable to invest in capital-intensive technologies (like photovoltaic power) than technologies where the raw material comes at a cost" like gas or coal, said the president of renewable energy lobby group Fundacion Renovables, Fernando Ferrando. Room to grow Donoso said this explains why major Spanish power firms such as Iberdrola "who stood aside from this sector" have suddenly jumped in. "The Spanish market will certainly be one of the biggest in Europe in the coming years," he added. A group set up by the government proposes setting as a goal having a total of 30,000-60,000 gigawatts of installed solar capacity by 2020, Donoso said. Spain`s conservative government has so far not made solar power a priority, said Ferrando. "We only use the sun for tourism not for electricity," he said. Solar power represents just 3-4 percent of electrical power production in Spain, compared with 20 percent for wind power and 16-17 percent for hydroelectric power, according to the lobby group.
Category: Other Countries
Off Grid Energy power up latest fleet of electric delivery vans for UPS
March 22, 2018 Thursday 7:40 AM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
Off Grid Energy, leading manufacturer of power solutions for the construction and utility industries, has supported UK Power Networks Services to deliver a project for UPS to overcome concerns related to the integration of electric delivery vehicles at its London parcel delivery depot. In conjunction with UK Power Networks Services, Off Grid Energy delivered a multi-function Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) as part of a wider integrated smart management system that provides a dynamic control of individual vehicle charging points to support the existing limited capacity grid supply, said a press release. The integration of 118 additional electric vehicles increased the demand that would exceed the capacity of the existing supply to the central London depot, and with the cost of an infrastructure upgrade too expensive and timely to be feasible, UPS needed an alternative solution that could be delivered within a short timescale. “Until recently, EV operators would have to account for a substantial increase in budget allocation to allow for an upgrade of infrastructure to meet increased energy demands,” said Danny Jones, Founder and CEO of Off Grid Energy. “However, with our cost-effective Universal Battery Energy Storage System (UBESS) - the Ingenium - customers now have an alternative solution.” Comprising of a smart charging system that dynamically controls the power available to connected vehicles, the system can intelligently limit the peak load on the network. Working alongside and interacting with this, the UBESS monitors depot load through remote measurement at the LV substation and makes stored energy available to the depot to cover any unavoidable deficit in capacity. In addition, when not required to support the depot, the Ingenium U-BESS is able to provide DSR services reflected back to the grid network that include FFR, demand shift, Voltage regulation, real and reactive power import/export and PV self-consumption. “By offering multi-layered benefits, this technology provides a solution to limited capacity grid issues as well as delivering network support services that, together, ensure the asset works hard for its keep.  Growth in EV fleets in our towns and cities, driven by air quality concerns, can now be effectively introduced without the cost and time associated with traditional grid re-enforcement,” added Jones.
Category: Other Countries
Britain to ban new diesel and gas cars by 2040
July 28, 2017 Friday 10:56 PM By The New York Times
Scrambling to combat a growing air pollution crisis, Britain announced on Wednesday that sales of new diesel and gas cars would reach the end of the road by 2040, the latest step in Europe’s battle against the damaging environmental impact of the internal combustion engine. Britain’s plans match a similar pledge made this month by France, and are part of a growing global push to curb emissions and fight climate change by promoting electric cars. Carmakers are also adjusting, with Volvo notably saying recently that it would phase out the internal combustion engine in the coming years and BMW deciding to build an electric version of its popular Mini car in Britain. But the shift to electric vehicles will be a gradual one, and the target set by Britain is less ambitious than some of the efforts elsewhere. President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord has also dented optimism. Britain’s new clean air strategy, published on Wednesday, calls for sales of new gas and diesel cars and vans to end by 2040. The government will also make 255 million pounds, or $332 million, available for local governments to take short-term action, such as retrofitting buses, to reduce air pollution. “It is important that we all gear up for a significant change which deals not just with the problems to health caused by emissions, but the broader problems caused in terms of accelerating climate change,” Michael Gove, the country’s environment secretary, told the BBC. Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, promised a “green revolution in transport,” adding that the government wanted nearly every car and van on Britain’s roads to have zero emissions by 2050. The strategy document was published after a protracted legal battle in which ministers were ordered by the courts to produce new plans to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide. In France, the promise to end sales of traditional cars was made as part of a renewed commitment to the Paris accord. In Britain, which is also committed to the Paris treaty, the measures have particular political significance because of rising concern over the level of air pollution, particularly in large cities like London. Poor air quality, much of it a result of pollution from vehicles, is estimated to cause between 23,000 and 40,000 deaths nationwide every year. Frederik Dahlmann, assistant professor of global energy at Warwick Business School, described Wednesday’s announcement as “an important step” that set a clear long-term target, and “also gives car buyers an incentive to consider the different types of engine options available in light of the long-term development of the market.” Still, he said, the long-term nature of the announcement left a significant question hanging: “How does the government intend to improve air quality and reduce transport related emissions in the short term?” Critics, including Ed Miliband, a former leader of the opposition Labour Party and an ex-environment secretary, argued that the government was failing to tackle the current pollution crisis. Another former environment secretary, Ed Davey of the centrist Liberal Democrats, described the government’s failure to commit to a plan to compensate diesel car owners who scrap or retrofit highly polluting vehicles as a “shameful betrayal.” Others also say the country’s efforts are not aggressive enough — France has also set 2040 as its target, but Norway intends to sell only electric cars from 2025, and India wants to do so by 2030. Cars typically have a life span of around 15 years, so even if Britain follows through with its target, conventional engines are likely to be on the country’s roads more than a decade later. Britain’s decision is, however, the latest indication of how swiftly governments and the public in Europe have turned against diesel and internal combustion engines in general. Automakers, though reluctant to abandon technologies that have served them well for more than a century, are increasingly resigned to the demise of engines that run on fossil fuels. They are investing heavily in battery-powered cars as they realize their traditional business is threatened by Tesla or emerging Chinese companies, which have a lead in electric car technology. The shift away from internal combustion engines is in large part a result of growing awareness of the health hazards of diesel. Cities like Madrid, Munich and Stuttgart are considering diesel bans. Sales of diesel cars are plunging. Political leaders are under pressure to end the de facto subsidies of diesel fuel that prevail in Europe. European countries kept taxes on diesel lower than on gasoline in the belief that it was kinder to the planet. Diesel engines do spew less carbon dioxide, a cause of global warming, than gasoline engines. But they produce more nitrogen oxides, a family of gases that cause asthma and are responsible for the smog that sometimes blankets London and other major cities. Rather than encourage a shift back to gasoline cars, governments and automakers are focusing increasingly on electric cars. They are the only vehicles that emit neither nitrogen oxides like diesel nor large amounts of carbon dioxide like gasoline. But the impending shift has raised doubts about whether countries like Britain will be able to create the infrastructure, and generate the electricity, needed for such a radical change in the way people travel.  Jack Cousens, a spokesman for Britain’s largest motoring organization, the AA, said there would need to be “significant investment in order to install charging points across the country, especially fast-charge points,” and added that it was questionable whether the electricity grid “could cope with a mass switch-on after the evening rush hour.”
Category: Other Countries
Representatives of international organisations visit Russia’s latest nuclear power facilities
July 20, 2017 Thursday 7:01 AM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
A 42 member high power delegation comprising   representatives of various countries and working in international organizations, including International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Russia’s advanced nuclear power technologies, including Generation 3+ nuclear power unit , floating nuke plant and nuclear ice breaker in St. Petersburg. The delegation visited the under operation Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and under construction world’s second reactor of Generation III+ (VVER-1200) after Novorezh NPP at Phase II of Leningrad NPP, said a press release. Two similar Russian Gen 3+ nuclear power units to be built by Rosatom at Rooppur of Pabna in Bangladesh. “The most important agendum of the visit is the nuclear power and ecology. The plant is situated in one of the cleanest places of Leningrad Region and demonstrates that nuclear power is green. At the plant our guests have received comprehensive answers to all questions related to safety and could understand that Russian plants, in fact, are safest in the world,”-Vladimir Voronkov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to an International Organization in Vienna, noted. The delegation also visited Baltijskiy Zavod – Sudostroenie where they saw  in detail  the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov (designed to supply electricity to the seaport of Pevek and companies based in Chukotka) and an under construction new generation nuclear icebreaker. The delegation included diplomats and nuclear experts from Austria, Brazil, China, Jordan, Hungary, Panama, Peru, Republic of South Africa, Singapore, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand and other countries.  Tebogo Seokolo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the IAEA, chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors said, “This has been a very fruitful technical tour. Russia is a very important country in the area of nuclear energy. As the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the IAEA, I also know how active Russia is in the activities of the IAEA. It is very important to see and to learn from Russia’s experience in terms of how they are applying some of the guidelines the IAEA has elaborated and the innovation they continue to make, the improvements they are making in the area of the nuclear technology, nuclear security and access to nuclear materials, nuclear safety and nuclear culture”. Russia as a leading member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a member of the IAEA Board of Governors.
Category: Other Countries
OPEC meets to extend oil cuts for up to one year
May 29, 2017 Monday 11:45 AM By Reuters
OPEC and non-member oil producers are gearing up to extend output cuts on Thursday, possibly by as long as 12 months, to help clear a global stocks overhang and prop up crude prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is to discuss in Vienna whether to prolong an accord reached in December in which it and 11 non-members agreed to cut oil output by about 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017. Most OPEC ministers, delegates and the market see a nine-month extension - instead of the initially suggested six months - as the base-case scenario but some countries including Russia have suggested an unusually long duration of 12 months. "I think nine months is most likely," one OPEC delegate said. Four other delegates agreed it was the most probable outcome. OPEC`s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, and top non-OPEC producer Russia have said cuts need to be extended to speed up market rebalancing and prevent oil prices from sliding back below $50 per barrel. OPEC sources have said the Thursday meeting will also highlight the need for long-term cooperation with non-OPEC producers. The group could also send a message to the market that it will seek to curtail its oil exports, which have not declined as steeply as its production. However, a decision on deeper output cuts is unlikely on Thursday, sources have said. By 0725 GMT, Brent crude was trading up almost 1 percent, above $54.40 a barrel. OPEC`s cuts have helped push oil back above $50 a barrel this year, giving a fiscal boost to producers, many of which rely heavily on energy revenues and have had to burn through foreign-currency reserves to plug holes in their budgets. Oil`s earlier price decline, which started in 2014, forced Russia and Saudi Arabia to tighten their belts and led to unrest in some producing countries including Venezuela and Nigeria. "Russia has an upcoming election and Saudis have the Aramco share listing next year so they will indeed do whatever it takes to support oil prices," said Gary Ross, head of global oil at PIRA Energy, a unit of S&P Global Platts. The price rise this year has spurred growth in the U.S. shale industry, which is not participating in the output deal, thus slowing the market`s rebalancing with global stocks still near record highs. OPEC has a self-imposed goal of bringing stocks down from a record high of 3 billion barrels to their five-year average of 2.7 billion. Algerian Energy Minister Noureddine Boutarfa told Reuters on Wednesday he believed that inventories should normalise by the end of 2017.
Category: Other Countries
Occidental shareholders vote for climate proposal
May 14, 2017 Sunday 9:38 PM By The Wall Street Journal
In a first at a major U.S. oil-and-gas company, shareholders of Occidental Petroleum Corp. voted Friday to ask that the company assess the long-term impacts of climate change on its business. Occidental opposed the proposal, which calls for an annual report starting in 2018 that includes environment-related scenario planning. One of those evaluations would be assessing the risks the company could face under efforts to limit global warming to a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius. The company has not yet disclosed what percentage of votes the resolution received, but acknowledged the shareholder support for it. "We look forward to continuing our shareholder engagement on the topic and providing additional disclosure about the company`s assessment and management of climate-related risks and opportunities," said Eugene L. Batchelder, Occidental`s chairman. The Nathan Cummings Foundation, which led the proposal along with Wespath Investment Management, said Friday`s passing vote puts the oil-and-gas industry on notice that investors looking more seriously at climate issues. "It`s hugely significant," said Laura S. Campos, director of corporate and political accountability at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. "It`s the first, but it`s not going to be the last." Occidental, in its proxy, urged investors to vote against the proposal, saying it was already working to expand its disclosure of how climate-related issues are relevant to its risk management practices and to explicitly incorporate climate-related risks and opportunities into its scenario planning process. BlackRock Inc., the world`s largest asset manager, supported the climate resolution, an early indication that financial management firms are beginning to think differently about their energy investments. This is the first time BlackRock voted for a shareholder proposal on climate risk that company management opposed. Shanna Cleveland, director of carbon asset risk at Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit group that promotes sustainable business practices, lauded the proposal`s passing as a big win. "One of the things it signals is that investors recognize that while political winds may be shifting, market forces are heading in the same direction -- and that`s toward an energy transition," Ms. Cleveland said.  In a first at a major U.S. oil-and-gas company, shareholders of Occidental Petroleum Corp. voted Friday to ask that the company assess the long-term impacts of climate change on its business. Occidental opposed the proposal, which calls for an annual report starting in 2018 that includes environment-related scenario planning. One of those evaluations would be assessing the risks the company could face under efforts to limit global warming to a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius. The company hasn`t yet disclosed what percentage of votes the climate resolution received, but acknowledged the shareholder support for it. Occidental said it would release that percentage in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission within four business days. "We look forward to continuing our shareholder engagement on the topic and providing additional disclosure about the company`s assessment and management of climate-related risks and opportunities," said Eugene L. Batchelder, Occidental`s chairman. The proposal that passed is nonbinding. Occidental is among a number of U.S. oil and gas producers under increasing pressure from shareholders to address climate change and other environmental risks to their businesses. The company is a significant oil producer in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, and also has drilling operations outside the U.S. in places like Colombia, Oman and Qatar. The Nathan Cummings Foundation, which led the proposal along with Wespath Investment Management, said Friday`s passing vote puts the oil-and-gas industry on notice that investors are looking more seriously at climate issues. "It`s hugely significant," said Laura S. Campos, director of corporate and political accountability at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. "It`s the first, but it`s not going to be the last." Occidental, in its proxy, urged investors to vote against the proposal, saying it was already working to expand its disclosure of how climate-related issues are relevant to its risk management practices and to explicitly incorporate climate-related risks and opportunities into its scenario planning process. BlackRock Inc., the world`s largest asset manager, supported the climate resolution, an early indication that financial management firms are beginning to think differently about their energy investments. This is the first time BlackRock voted for a shareholder proposal on climate risk that company management opposed. Shanna Cleveland, director of carbon asset risk at Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit group that promotes sustainable business practices, lauded the proposal`s passing as a big win. When such proposals first began popping up, they got little support. A database of shareholder resolutions kept by Ceres shows that in 2011 a proposal to add an independent environmental expert to Occidental`s board got only 5.3% approval from investors, but one last year asking Occidental to report on carbon asset risk scenarios only narrowly failed with 49% of the vote. "One of the things it signals is that investors recognize that while political winds may be shifting, market forces are heading in the same direction -- and that`s toward an energy transition," Ms. Cleveland said. Several of the world`s biggest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, have started to produce research about climate risks for investors, although the amount of disclosure has varied by company. In some cases, certain activists have been critical of the conclusions, which have largely found that the companies face limited risks even from scenarios in which carbon emissions are dramatically reduced in the future. Exxon and others continue to face pressure on the issue. Exxon and Chevron shareholders will vote on a number of proposals in annual meetings at the end of the month. One resolution seeks more detailed disclosures from Exxon about how new technology and climate change regulation will affect its assets. A Chevron proposal requests that the company begin to report on how it will transition to a low carbon economy. Exxon and Chevron have recommended votes against the proposals, saying they are carefully planning for the future and have already made significant disclosures on the matter. Exxon recently released a new report about environmental risks and held a shareholder webcast on the issue Thursday.
Category: Other Countries
Vietnamese utility to build 350 MW
May 7, 2017 Sunday 10:51 PM By pv-magazine.com
A unit of utility Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) has announced plans to build two projects totalling 350 MW of solar capacity in southeastern Vietnam. Group subsidiary Power Generation Corp. 3 (Genco 3) wants to build the projects on a 554-hectare plot of land in Ninh Thuận province, according to an online statement by EVN. It plans to invest VND 9.57 trillion ($421.3 million) in the projects in Phuoc Minh Thuan Nam district. It will start construction in the second quarter of 2018, with completion scheduled by the first quarter of 2021. Genco 3 said it will integrate the project with an agricultural business, but did not reveal additional details. The company primarily operates thermal and hydroelectric power plants, with a cumulative installed capacity of about 6.5 GW. It supplies about 17% of Vietnam’s electricity. The Genco 3 plan is the latest in a string of major PV project announcements in Vietnam. In early April, for example, state media reported that Singapore-based solar installer Sinenergy had signed a memorandum of understanding with the authorities in Ninh Thuận province to build 300 MW array. Around the same time, India’s Tata Solar revealed plans to develop a 100 MW project in Bình Phuoc province. The project announcements coincide with the Vietnamese government’s recent introduction of a feed-in tariff (FIT) program for PV projects. It has set a 20-year FIT of VND 2,086 ($0.091)/kWh and has laid the groundwork for a net-metering scheme. The government wants renewables to account for 9.9% of total electricity production by 2020. It is shooting for 850 MW of installed solar capacity by 2020. However, cumulative installations remain negligible, at roughly 7 MW by the end of 2016, according to statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Category: Other Countries
First coal-free day in Britain since industrial revolution
April 22, 2017 Saturday 8:30 PM By BBC News
Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says. The energy provider said Friday`s lack of coal usage was a “watershed” moment. Britain`s longest continuous energy period without coal until now was 19 hours - first achieved last May, and again on Thursday. The government plans to phase out Britain`s last plants by 2025 in order to cut carbon emissions. Friday is thought to be the first time the nation has not used coal to generate electricity since the world`s first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London. Cordi O`Hara of the National Grid said: "To have the first working day without coal since the start of the industrial revolution is a watershed moment in how our energy system is changing. "The UK benefits from highly diverse and flexible sources of electricity. Our energy mix continues to change and National Grid adapts system operation to embrace these changes." But Ms O`Hara says that while the country makes the transition to a low carbon system, coal remains an important source of energy. According to Gridwatch.co.uk, around half of British energy on Friday came from natural gas, with about a quarter coming from nuclear plants. Wind, biomass, and imported energy were also used.
Category: Other Countries
Qatar restarts development of world`s biggest gas field after 12-year freeze
April 5, 2017 Wednesday 9:11 AM By Reuters
Qatar has lifted a self-imposed ban on development of the world`s biggest natural gas field, the chief executive of Qatar Petroleum said on Monday, as the world`s top LNG exporter looks to see off an expected rise in competition. Qatar declared a moratorium in 2005 on the development of the North Field, which it shares with Iran, to give Doha time to study the impact on the reservoir from a rapid rise in output. The vast offshore gas field, which Doha calls the North Field and Iran calls South Pars, accounts for nearly all of Qatar`s gas production and around 60 percent of its export revenue. "We have completed most of our projects and now is a good time to lift the moratorium," QP Chief Executive Saad al-Kaabi told reporters Monday at Qatar Petroleum`s headquarters in Doha. "For oil there are people who see peak demand in 2030, others in 2042, but for gas demand is always growing." The development in the southern section of the North Field will have a capacity of 2 billion cubic feet per day, or 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent, and increase production of the field by about 10 percent, when it starts production in five to seven years, he said. LNG GLUT Qatar is expected to lose its top exporter position this year to Australia, where new production is due to come on line. The LNG market is undergoing huge changes as the biggest ever flood of new supply is hitting the market, with volumes coming mainly from the United States and Australia. President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia aimed to become the world`s largest LNG producer. The flurry of LNG production has resulted in global installed LNG capacity of over 300 million tonnes a year, while only around 268 million tonnes of LNG were traded in 2016, Thomson Reuters data shows. That has helped pull down Asian spot LNG prices by more than 70 percent from their 2014 peaks to $5.65 per million British thermal units (mmBtu). Qatar`s decision to lift the moratorium on new gas development now could help the tiny Gulf monarchy maintain a competitive edge after 2020, when the global LNG market is expected to tighten. "With global activity levels and costs low, now is a good time to add new capacity, even if the LNG market does presently look over supplied," Giles Farrer, research director, global LNG at Wood Mackenzie, said in an email. "It`s a signal that Qatar intends to increase its market share, which has been falling as other regions have built new capacity." An energy advisor to the Qatar government said he saw it as a preemptive step to warn competitors who are considering LNG investments that Qatar remains an aggressive seller. "It will certainly give rivals something to chew on," he said, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak publicly. The announcement coincides with the start of a major LNG industry conference this week in Japan, attended by many of its competitors and potential new customers. Kaabi said low prices would not pressure Qatar. "By the time this project comes online in five years or so it should be a good market for gas," he said. IRAN NO ENEMY Iran, which suffers severe domestic gas shortages, has made a rapid increase in production from South Pars a top priority and signed a preliminary deal with France`s Total in November to develop its South Pars II project. Iran`s oil minister last week vowed to ramp up production of its part of the shared field. "Iran`s gas production in South Pars can exceed Qatar`s before the end of new Iranian year (ending March 20, 2018)," Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency on Thursday. Total was the first Western energy company to sign a major deal with Tehran since the lifting of international sanctions. Kaabi said the decision to lift the moratorium was not prompted by Iran`s plan to develop its part of the shared field. "What we are doing today is something completely new and we will in future of course ... share information on this with them (Iran)." The economy of Qatar, a future World Cup host with a population of 2.6 million, has been pressured by the global oil slump and in 2015 QP dismissed thousands of workers and has earmarked a number of assets for divestment. QP is merging two LNG divisions, Qatargas and RasGas, to save hundreds of millions of dollars. In February, Kaabi said Qatar would focus on seeking international opportunities by exploring for oil and gas in Cyprus and Morocco. But the current low LNG price environment may deter investment in new supply projects, bringing tighter supplies and price spikes in the future.
Category: Other Countries
Beijing shuts last coal power plant in switch to natural gas
March 24, 2017 Friday 8:32 PM By AFP
The last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing has suspended operations, with the city`s electricity now generated by natural gas, the state news agency reported as smog enveloped the Chinese capital this weekend. The shuttering of the Huaneng Beijing Thermal Power Plant comes on the heels of China`s annual legislative sessions, where Premier Li Keqiang promised to "make our skies blue again" in his state-of-the-nation speech. According to Xinhua, Beijing has become the country`s first city to have all its power plants fuelled by natural gas, an objective laid out in 2013 in the capital`s five-year clean air action plan. The Huangneng plant is the fourth to be closed and replaced by gas thermal power centres between 2013 and 2017, cutting nearly 10 million tonnes in coal emissions annually. Xinhua reported the move the night before municipal authorities issued a blue alert for heavy air pollution on March 19. Smog has cloaked the capital for several days and is expected to continue through the week. Since last Wednesday` closing of the National People`s Congress, the annual meeting of China`s rubber-stamp parliament, PM2.5 (harmful particulate) levels have remained between 200 and 330 micrograms per cubic metre -- well above the World Health Organization`s recommended maximum average exposure of 25 micrograms per cubic metre in a 24-hour period. The pollution often vanishes during prominent events like the legislative sessions and the 2008 Summer Olympics as authorities order factories to halt activity and force cars off the road. During the 2014 gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing, this clear air phenomenon was dubbed "APEC blue." During the one-week-and-a-half period of the NPC, average PM2.5 levels hovered between 50 and 80, despite exceeding 200 micrograms per cubic metre just one day before the opening of the parliamentary sessions on March 5. In response to a reporter`s question about this disparity at his annual press conference last Wednesday, Li repeated his pledge to target coal-burning and vehicle emissions. "We may not be able to control the weather, but we can adjust our behaviour and our way of development," he said. "Blue skies should no longer be a luxury, nor will they be."  
Category: Other Countries
Shell to drill new gas wells by end-2018 in Australia
March 22, 2017 Wednesday 1:43 PM By Reuters
Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday it will drill 161 new gas wells at its Queensland operations by the end of 2018, helping to underpin its promise to continue supplying 10 percent of the domestic gas market to help prevent a shortage. The project at its QGC operations in the Surat Basin in southeast Queensland has been planned for some time as existing wells decline, with the new wells due to be drilled this year and next. The wells will help sustain Shell`s 75 petajoules of gas supplies a year to eastern Australia`s gas market. The new drilling will not affect exports from Shell`s Queensland Curtis liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. The announcement came a week after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hauled in Australia`s gas producers, led by Shell Australia and ExxonMobil Corp, to discuss how to boost supplies in face of warnings from the nation`s energy market operator of a looming shortage within the next two years. Gas supply has become a hot issue, following blackouts and brownouts in Australia`s eastern states over the past year, and as growth in LNG exports has led to soaring gas prices for manufacturers. Thanks to onshore production in Queensland, businesses there will pay less than rivals further south, where onshore drilling has been banned or restricted due to opposition from landowners and green groups, said Shell Australia Chairman Andrew Smith. "This is a competitive advantage for Queensland business in attracting manufacturing jobs from Victoria, where gas customers will be forced to pay more for political reasons," Smith said.
Category: Other Countries
Russia–backed nuke plant in Hungary, gets greenlight from EU
March 7, 2017 Tuesday 9:14 PM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
The European Union (EU) on March 06 has cleared Hungary to build two nuclear power units with Generation III+ Russian VVER – 1200 reactors after Budapest made commitments to safeguard competition in the energy sector. The new plants will be financed mostly with a loan of US$ 10.6 billion from Russia and to be implemented by Russian State Nuclear Power Corporation – ROSATOM, said a press release. The Hungarian deal for Russia to build the two additional reactors at the Paks nuclear plant, which had been agreed in January 2014, had been held up because of the EU`s regulatory demands. The EU wanted to check whether Hungarian state aid for the project would hurt competition. Yesterday’s decision by EU has removed the last roadblock in implementation of Hungarian project. "The Hungarian government has made substantial commitments, which has allowed the commission to approve the investment under EU state aid rules," EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. Welcoming the EU decision, Kirill Komarov, First Deputy CEO of ROSATOM said, “Construction of two new units at Paks NPP is an important project of Hungarian-Russian bilateral cooperation and we are glad to proceed to the active stage of its implementation. Advanced Russian Gen III+ units will be built in Hungary in compliance with post-Fukushima safety requirements and IAEA recommendations.” As part of its commitments to the EU Commission, Hungary will have to make sure that profits cannot be used to reinvest in additional generator capacity and sell at least 30 percent of its output on the open power exchange. The running of the new operations must also be separate from that of the existing Paks nuclear plants.  Main construction of the additional nuclear power units at Paks NPP, 120km from Budapest is expected to begin in 2018. The units are slated to start production at the second half of the next decade. Presently, there are four Soviet built VVER 440 reactors at the site which are contributing over 50% of the Hungary’s domestic electricity production. Nuclear power units with Generation III+ VVER – 1200 reactors are in different stages of implementation in Russia, Belorussia, Finland and Bangladesh. ROSATOM ranks first in NPP construction abroad implementing construction projects for 34 units in 12 countries: in Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Asia- Pacific region.
Category: Other Countries
Developing countries leading the way in sustainable energy policies, finds World Bank report
February 17, 2017 Friday 12:36 PM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
In scoring the sustainable energy policies of 111 countries, the World Bank finds that nations such as Mexico, China, India and Brazil are emerging as leaders in the field, delivering robust policies that support energy access. Leaders of the free world, look away now: the World Bank has this week published a report that appears to show how a number of western nations have taken their eye of the ball when it comes to delivering supportive policies for clean energy adoption – with developing countries taking up the mantle instead. The World Bank’s RISE (Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy) scorecard has assessed the energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy policies of 111 countries and found that it is developing nations that are increasingly taking the lead. Mexico, China, Turkey, India, Vietnam, Brazil and South Africa are singled out for praise in the report; the World Bank effusive at their collective efforts to support a transition to more sustainable forms of energy via the introduction of robust policies. However, beyond these nations there is vast room for improvement, the RISE report said, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where 600 million people still live without electricity. The RISE analysis revealed that the region remains the least electrified in the world, with 40% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa having taken “barely any” action on introducing policy measures required to accelerate access to energy. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda buck this trend, the World Bank says, but compared to Asia – where only 10% of countries lack a clear framework – there is still much work to be done in sub-Saharan Africa on this front. Of the top 10 “high impact” countries for renewable energy and energy efficiency, ie, those that have the most capacity of clean energy installed, there is a clear correlation with relatively robust policy frameworks in place. However, RISE found that of the top 10 high impact countries for access, ie, those that could most immediately benefit from additional renewable energy, there is still much progress to be made in terms of strong policy support. Solar’s tumbling costs were cited as a great opportunity for developing countries to bring electricity to residents that live beyond the reach of utilities, but the RISE report found that a great deal of countries had not created a regulatory environment “favorable to accelerate the diffusion of solar home systems”.  The challenge, RISE said, is no longer a case of working out how to build renewable energy power plants, but rather now to ensure access to widely available and affordable technology is granted to the world’s poorest. “The world is in a race to secure a clean energy transition – one that will deliver energy services for everyone, create jobs, ensure healthcare and education, and allow economies to grow,” said Rachel Kyte, for Sustainable Energy for All (for whom RISE produced the report) and representative to the UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Energy for All. “Increased use of renewable energy is a key element in that transition. “RISE offers policymakers and investors the most detailed country-level insight yet into how we can level the playing field for renewable energy worldwide. Smart policy can accelerate this transition,” Kyte concluded. Source: pv magazine
Category: Other Countries
Radiation level in Fukushima plant at record high
February 3, 2017 Friday 9:01 PM By BSS/AFP
Radiation levels inside a stricken reactor at Japan`s Fukushima nuclear plant have hit a record high capable of shutting down robots, in the latest challenge to efforts aimed at dismantling the disaster-hit facility. Radiation levels inside the plant`s No. 2 reactor were estimated at 530 sieverts per hour at one spot, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Thursday after analysing images taken by a manually operated camera that probed the deepest point yet within the reactor. Even after taking a 30-percent margin of error into account, the radiation level was still far higher than the previous record of 73 sieverts per hour detected by sensors in 2012 though at a point not as deep, TEPCO said. Radiation exposure at 530 sieverts per hour would effectively shut down TEPCO`s planned robot camera probe in under two hours. But TEPCO said the high reading focused on a single point, with levels estimated to be much lower at other spots filmed by the camera. It added that the planned robot probe would not sustain severe damage because it was unlikely to linger for too long at a single point. The three cameras mounted on a caterpillar-type robot are designed to withstand up to 1,000 sieverts in total. TEPCO said the radiation is not leaking outside the reactor. A massive undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011 sent a huge tsunami barrelling into Japan`s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing, and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima plant in the worst such accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Japan`s government said in December that it expects the total costs -- including compensation, decommissioning and decontamination -- to reach 21.5 trillion yen ($190 billion) in a process likely to take decades as high radiation levels have slowed operations. TEPCO has said it plans to eventually use robots to locate the fuel debris as part of the decommissioning process. Images of the wreckage inside the No. 2 reactor captured by the camera show that the metal grating under the pressure vessel which contained nuclear fuel has largely sunken in, causing a hole about one metre wide. Black debris that could be melted fuel is also seen in the images. Fuel may have melted through the vessel and damaged the grating but the exact cause was not determined, TEPCO spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi said Friday. "It may have been caused by nuclear fuel that would have melted and made a hole in the vessel, but it is only a hypothesis at this stage," he told AFP. "We believe the captured images offer very useful information, but we still need to investigate given that it is very difficult to assume the actual condition inside," he said.
Category: Other Countries
Deutsche Bank to stop financing coal projects
February 2, 2017 Thursday 8:20 PM By AFP
German banking giant Deutsche Bank on Tuesday announced it would stop financing coal projects as part of its commitments under the Paris Agreement to tackle global warming. “Deutsche Bank and its subsidiaries will not grant new financing for greenfield thermal coal mining and new coal-fired power plant construction,” it said in a statement. Existing exposure to such projects will be gradually reduced, it added. The lender said the decision was in line with the pledges it made at last year’s Paris climate conference, along with 400 other public and private companies, to help fight global warming. A study last month by the legal group Arabella Advisors found that global funds were increasingly signalling plans to pull out of fossil fuel investments, one year on from the Paris climate agreement. The accord, signed by 192 countries, is the world’s first universal, legally binding climate deal. It sets out a plan to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels. US President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw his country, the world’s second-largest greenhouse-gas polluter after China, from the agreement.
Category: Other Countries
Oil prices will be much more volatile in 2017: IEA
January 16, 2017 Monday 10:15 AM By Reuters
Global oil prices will witness "much more volatility" in 2017 even though markets may rebalance in the first half of the year if output cuts pledged by producers are implemented, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Sunday. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed on Nov. 30 to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to 32.5 million bpd for the first six months of 2017, in addition to 558,000 bpd of cuts agreed by independent producers such as Russia, Oman and Mexico. "I would expect that we will see a rebalancing of the markets within the first half of this year," said Fatih Birol, executive director of IEA, the Paris-based global energy watchdog. "But what I want to say (is) that we are entering a period of much more volatility in the market ... the name of the game is volatility," he told Reuters Television in Abu Dhabi. Prices fell on Friday and ended the week 3 percent lower on lingering doubts over the extent of OPEC cuts, with sentiment worsened by concerns over the economic health of the world`s second-largest oil consumer, China, after it reported the steepest falls in overall exports since 2009. Birol said although the OPEC agreement could signal higher oil prices, it would also encourage more production from the United States and elsewhere. Higher prices could also weaken global demand for oil, he added. "I expect the U.S. shale oil will go back to increasing production this year," Birol said. He added that a recent trend of declining Chinese oil production due to low prices could be reversed if the market strengthened. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed crude production rose notably last week, particularly in 48 southern states. Overall production was 8.95 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, the most since April of last year. OPEC and the independent producers are cutting supplies to remove a global glut and prop up prices, which at around $56 a barrel are half their level of mid-2014, hurting the revenue of exporting nations. Birol said his main concern now was lack of investment in new oil supplies after low prices over the past two years forced the shutdown of many projects across the world. "This year, if there are no major investments coming we may well see in a few years from now significant supply-demand gap with serious implications on the market."
Category: Other Countries
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