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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
Rosatom to train Indian engineers at a jointly set up centre in Ranchi
August 10, 2017 Thursday 12:25 PM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
India’s Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HEC) and CNIITMASH a sister concern of Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation ROSATOM are jointly working on establishing a Center for General Engineering and Technical Training in the India’s city of Rachi. First 200 engineers from HEC Ltd. will start their education program by the end of 2017 or early 2018, said a press release. The training will be given nine different courses of one to four months duration and will be carried out by CNIITMASH specialists.  The initiative aims at skill development of technical people, working in various engineering enterprises in India. Currently, CNIITMASH specialists are preparing training materials for the centre. The Center is expected to raise efficiency of production in national energy and engineering sectors and to develop qualification of Indian engineers. It may be mentioned here that Rosatom has undertaken an extensive programme to develop and train human resources for Bangladesh in its nuclear energy sector. The Russian state company is implementing the first ever nuclear power plant of Bangladesh at Rooppur of Pabna district.
Category: Regional
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
Solar power price slump casts shadow on India`s green future
June 10, 2017 Saturday 1:03 PM By AFP
Solar power prices in India have hit rock bottom, but it is not all good news for the electricity-starved country as the phenomenon has hit investor confidence and threatens the country`s effort to push its green credentials. Cut-throat competition has driven prices down to unsustainable levels, undermining the booming sector`s viability, according to experts. After the United States withdrew from the Paris climate deal last week, India said it would stick to its huge renewable energy programme. India is the headquarters of an international solar energy alliance and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to reinforce the notoriously polluted country`s green credentials. But the price slump could hinder India`s efforts to meet its solar energy goals and limit temperature-raising emissions. Delays in generating more electricity also mean that nearly 250 million Indians without power will remain in darkness, analysts said. Indian authorities hold regular auctions for power supply companies and the most recent, in May, saw a bid of 2.44 rupees -- less than four US cents -- per kilowatt hour. That was a record low for India at a fifth of the price at the start of the decade and energy minister Piyush Goyal called it a step to a "green future". The price is cheaper than for coal-powered electricity, which overwhelmingly dominates the power grid. However, the effect of the falling cost of solar modules, cheaper financing, aggressive competition and a surplus power supply in some states has been to unleash chaos, with companies and state governments clamouring for suppliers to match the new, low prices. "Prices have come down too much, too soon and that doesn`t bode well for the overall health of the sector," said Vinay Rustagi, managing director of renewable energy consultancy Bridge to India. - Solar `curse` - "In the past 17 months, tariffs are down nearly 50 percent and this is leading to buyer`s remorse for projects already built and under development," he added. "There`s a reasonable chance that these projects will face some trouble in the future." Modi turned to renewable energy to meet the vast needs of an economy that grew by 7.1 percent last year. The government has set an ambitious target of harvesting 100,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022 -- but has installed just 12,500 MW so far. Of India`s 329,000 MW of installed capacity, 67 percent comes from coal and gas. The rest is a combination of nuclear and renewables including, hydro, wind and solar. India is the fastest growing of the world`s major economies and needs uninterrupted electricity to maintain its expansion. It also needs renewable energy to meet its 2015 Paris commitment to reduce emissions relative to gross domestic product by up to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. The state governments of Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have refused to sign purchase agreements to buy power at the rates of 4-5.50 rupees a unit reached at auction over the past year, hoping to secure a cheaper deal. This is "creating uncertainty," said Rustagi. "Ethically we shouldn`t do that," said Sanjay Sharma, general manager at the state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India which conducted the latest auctions. He warned that the government could "lose the confidence of the foreign bidder who is investing in India." Critics also question if the new contract winners can provide low price electricity and remain viable. A day after India saw its new cheap solar prices, Amplus Solar founder Sanjeev Aggarwal was bombarded by clients asking him to slash rates to match the new prices. "People are falling over each other to grab a piece of the pie, but the question is if they can ever deliver at these rates," Aggarwal told AFP. Sumant Sinha chief executive of ReNew Power, one of the largest Indian renewable power companies and a losing bidder in the latest auctions, predicted a "winners curse." "Extremely low tariffs don`t help anyone. Ultimately people have to raise debt financing, banks have to be brought on board, all of that looks very dicey at these levels," Sinha said.
Category: Regional
Russia signs agreement with India for construction of the third phase of Kudankulam nuke plant
June 3, 2017 Saturday 9:43 PM By News Desk, energynewsbd.com
ASE Group of Companies, a sister concern of Russia’s state nuclear power corporation-Rosatom and Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed a general framework agreement on the construction of the third phase of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu of India. Valery Limarenko, president of ASE group of companies, and Satish Kumar Sharma, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed the general framework agreement of during the18th India-Russia annual summit held in Saint-Petersburg of Russia. According to a press release from Rosatom, The agreement stipulates the construction of two Russian-designed power units, No. 5 and No. 6 at the Kudankulam NPP site.   India with the assistance from Russia has already constructed and commissioned power units No. 1, No. 2 in the first phase and started implementation of construction of power unit no. 3 and No. 4 in the second phase of Kudankulam NPP. All the power units of the project are with Russian VVER 1000 technology, which fully satisfies the requirements of up-to-date regulatory and technical documents of Russia, IAEA and is certified for compliance with European Utilities Requirements (EUR).     Earlier on December 5, 2008 Russia and India signed an inter- governmental agreement  on cooperation in construction of additional power units of the nuclear power plant at the Kudankulam site, as well as in construction of nuclear power plants of  Russian design at new sites in India.
Category: Regional
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
India becomes 2nd largest LPG importer
May 8, 2017 Monday 9:28 PM By LP GAS TODAY
India has toppled Japan as the world’s second-largest importer of LPG, it has been revealed. The news comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide cooking gas cylinders to the poor and wean them off polluting fuels drove up consumption. Imports of LPG, mostly used as cooking fuel, soared 23% during the financial year to 31 March to 11 million tons, according to data from oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell. Japan’s imports slipped 3.2% during the same period to 10.6 million tons, according to its finance ministry. China remains the world’s top importer. A push to provide free cooking gas connections to women in poor households in India has resulted with a record distribution of 32.5 million new cooking gas connections during the year. India aims to increase LPG usage to cover 80% of its households by March 2019, compared with the 72.8% that now use it.
Category: Regional
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
Myanmar-China oil pipeline nears start-up
March 22, 2017 Wednesday 1:35 PM By Reuters
Nearly a decade in the making, a project to pump oil 770 km (480 miles) across Myanmar to southwest China is set for imminent start-up, with a supertanker nearing the port of Kyauk Phyu, marking the opening of a new oil trading route. Dogged by sensitive relations between Naypyitaw and Beijing, the $1.5 billion oil pipeline has been sitting empty for two years, but the two sides are now close to a deal, said Myanmar-based government and industry sources, despite some last-minute tensions. An agreement between China`s PetroChina and Myanmar`s government will allow the state energy giant to import overseas oil via the Bay of Bengal and pump it through the pipeline to supply a new 260,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in landlocked Yunnan province. The new oil gateway fits with China`s "One Belt, One Road" ambitions, linking it with central Asia and Europe, and will provide a more direct alternative route to sending Middle Eastern oil via the crowded Malacca Straits and Singapore. It would also be a rare win for China in Myanmar after a diplomatic offensive aimed at forging better ties with its resource-rich neighbour, which has often been wary of Beijing`s economic clout. Aung Myat Soe, deputy director of planning under the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), said the project was awaiting a final sign-off by the Minister of Electricity and Energy. Major issues including transport tariffs and Myanmar`s tax take on the oil have been settled, but port fees have yet to be finalised, said a Myanmar-based industry source familiar with the matter. "The two sides are working to finalize the terms and sign the contract," the person said, declining to be named as the information is not public. "I cannot say for sure when the deal would be sealed - it could be in a couple of days or early April." The pipeline will have an eventual capacity of 400,000 bpd, about 5 percent of China`s daily import demand, but the start-up of the Yunnan refinery has been held up as PetroChina and Myanmar negotiated final terms for delivering the oil. PetroChina plans to start test production at the refinery in June, aiming to expand its foothold in China`s fuel-short southwest which has so far relied largely on rival Sinopec for supplies, said two Beijing-based oil officials familiar with the Yunnan refinery. Before then, PetroChina is expected to purchase another 7 million barrels of crude for the pipeline, to stock up fuel for about one month`s production at its new refinery, said one of the officials. While the deal is still to be finalised, oil is already on its way to supply the pipeline, straining relations with Myanmar. Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows the oil tanker United Dynamic, carrying one million barrels of Azeri crude, is currently off the coast of southern India and expected to unload its cargo at Kyauk Phyu this week. A Myanmar government official said there had been "a big argument with the Chinese" over the move to ship in crude before the contract was finalised, while a second official said the entry of the tanker was pending approval from Myanmar`s navy. PetroChina did not respond to requests for comment. Any delay would be costly for the oil shipper, which is carrying crude worth over $50 million and which has a daily tanker charter cost of nearly $20,000, excluding fuel and crew costs. The deal is also controversial in China as it has been tainted by a graft probe into PetroChina`s ex-chairman Jiang Jiemin, a supporter of the project. Critics have raised conerns about the economic viability of the project, which also includes a natural gas pipeline, which was touted as providing "strategic new channels" for China`s energy needs. At the same time, the prolonged squabbling over key features of the deal, first discussed back in 2004, has soured Chinese enthusiasm for the project. "There are open questions about the economics and future cooperation with Myanmar, given the repeated delays and under-utilization," noted a senior PetroChina official who requested anonymity as he`s not authorized to speak to press.
Category: Regional
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