MonitorsPublished on Nov 12, 2023
Energy News Monitor I Volume X, Issue 22
When the Government Provides Onions & Hydrocarbons

Lydia Powell, Observer Research Foundation


e all know what happens when the Government is the provider of onions and hydrocarbons: we have a shortage! But hoardings that have appeared around Delhi assigning the blame for the exorbitant price of onions and tomatoes seem to have got it wrong. First they seem to imply that the government should control the supply of onions. Second they seem to imply that a different government run by a different person would be able to bring down the price of onions. Both are inaccurate, if not completely false. Ironically these messages are coming from a political party that is supposedly committed to neo-liberal principles that seek to minimise the role of the government in the provision of goods and services. The party probably wants to entice the economically unenlightened with the hoardings, but it could lead to disaster if they are actually believed by the concerned party and the people it represents.

India’s energy sector in which the belief that the government is the grand provider of fuels is entrenched, is a case in point. As owner of all resources from which energy fuels are derived, one would expect the government to be the ultimate repository of knowledge on the extent of resources the country has at its disposal. While it is true that the extent of resources available is a function of technology and price, one would assume that the government would have at least basic knowledge of its natural resources. This is not true in the case of almost all sources of energy available in India. A disproportionally large share of the country’s fossil fuel resources remains unexplored. This has led to speculative estimates on the country’s coal reserves. Uncertainty over resource estimates has resulted in plenty of analyses that question the viability of India’s coal based system. Uncertainty over natural gas resource estimates has resulted in bitter exchanges between the government and the private sector over who misled who over resource estimates. Irrespective of where the truth lies, we suffer from the outcome which is fuel shortage!

Coming to the question of producing available resources, once again it is the government and its agents that are ultimately responsible. As owners of the resource and trusty of people’s interests, the government sets the broad policy goals on how much fuel must be produced, how it must be priced and used. The bureaucracy is responsible for implementing the wishes of the government. Recent developments in the energy sector have exposed problems in this arrangement and raised questions on the extent of bureaucratic autonomy and accountability in our system that would produce desired results. Francis Fakuyama’s recent paper on governance quotes Samuel Huntington who has argued that highly institutionalised political systems have bureaucracies with high autonomy and those that are not have subordinated bureaucracies. It is not difficult to guess that the Fakuyama places the Indian system among subordinated bureaucracies. The application of some of the fundamentals of governance expressed in Fakuyama’s paper to the Indian energy sector leads to illuminating insights.

Fakuyama argues that the quality of governance is the result of an interaction between bureaucratic capacity and autonomy. He observes that if a bureaucracy is full of incompetent and corrupt officials then discretionary powers must be limited. More rather than less rules would bring out the best outcome between policy objective and implementation in the system. The paper quotes Robert Klitgaard’s interesting formula, ‘Corruption = Discretion – Accountability’. If we apply this formula in its mathematical purity to the Indian context, we could come to the conclusion that we have too much discretion combined with too little accountability. This is not necessarily true. The bureaucracy has argued that allegations of corruption in the energy sector are the result of almost no discretion and excess accountability. Once again irrespective of where the truth lies, we suffer the outcome which is fuel shortage, imports and consequent high prices.

In Fakuyama’s reform matrix India is placed in the worst quadrant corresponding to low capacity bureaucracy which is subordinated by the principal (the government) but it is followed by three question marks. Fakuyama could be suggesting that when it comes to India no one really knows where it is currently and where it is going in the future. What is surprising and probably disappointing is that Fakuyama does not indicate the direction of progress India is making in reforming itself. China is shown to be moving from a state of low capacity and high autonomy towards low capacity and low autonomy which is not necessarily a good thing. In fact this suggests that China is trying to become more like India when it comes to bureaucratic functions. The interesting question we could probably ask here is was low capacity and high autonomy of China’s bureaucracy, supposedly the ideal mix for corruption, responsible for the best results when it comes to implementation of energy projects in China?

Fakuyama observes that India is famous both for high levels of corruption and clientalism and for simultaneously having excessive rules and bureaucratic red-tape. No one would contest this observation. He concludes that India definitely needs greater bureaucratic capacity but argues that autonomy may be specific to the context. It is not clear how many will agree with his conclusion. A recent article by Pratab Bhanu Mehta on the judgement of T S R Subramaniam and others Vs the Union of India contests the claim that ‘politicisation or political interference in bureaucratic functions is the single point explanation of all ills and evils in the Indian system’. He eloquently argues that the ‘ruling elite’ including judges, politician and bureaucrats are ‘cut from the same cloth’ and that there is no reason to believe one group is less likely to be corrupt than others. His observation that ‘we produce the system we have because of the kind of society we are’ hits at the heart of our problem. As long we remain the society we are, changing politicians or government, giving autonomy to bureaucrats or making more rules is unlikely to change anything including the price of onions.

Views are those of the author                    

Author can be contacted at [email protected]



The unfair Comparison: Coal Vs Solar Power

Ashish Gupta, Observer Research Foundation


nderstanding the Indian Power sector is highly complex. Problems are known but nothing concrete is happening on the ground by way of solutions. The Indian power sector is always criticized for being short of coal always. Of course coal shortage is a problem but the presence of negative stakeholders is making the situation worse. The most recent is the speculative analysis coming from the green lobby that India will run out of coal in the next decade. This is not to disregard clean energy but to call attention to the fact that the idea is flawed even if it is camouflaged as green or inclusive growth.

Clean energy experts do not miss any opportunity to criticize coal in the name of clean energy and they downsize our coal reserves in the process. Ironically these ideas are mostly promoted in the five star hotels which run on coal power electricity and by people whose lifestyles are underwritten by coal based electricity. Renewable energy (especially solar power) is promoted in public forums in the name of benefitting the rural people without any representation from the rural fraternity. Therefore, clean energy is imposed from the top rather than chosen by the poor.  The promotion of renewable is commercially driven rather than by concerns over the poor. 

Coming back to the allegation that India will run out of coal, the statement holds no merit even though it is fascinating for clean energy experts. This issue has been covered many times in this column, but there is no harm in reiterating that India will not run out of coal in the next four five decades. But one allegation is true: it is that mined reserves are also included in the reserves estimates. But again it is not a major cause of worry. Currently as per the Ministry of Coal reserves estimates, our coal inventory stands at 293 billion ton (bt) in which 118 bt fall under the proved category. If one can glance through the coal production from 1951 up till now, India has mined only 19 bt – 20 bt coal approx. Deducting the same from the proved coal inventory will reduce the coal reserves to 98 bt. The point here is why is it so difficult to accept the fact that coal is the primary source that guarantees India’s energy security. This does not mean that India should not diversify its energy basket but promoting renewable energy as the only solution is not credible. Coal can be converted into a clean resource through clean coal technologies.  Therefore the idea that we are ‘running out of coal’ is only a belief promoted by negative stakeholders. 

We now turn to the second allegation that India will not be able to mine coal as most of the coal reserves will be below 300 – 1200 meters range. This allegation is baseless as 91.92 bt (proved category) coal falls under the range of 0 – 300 meters. Given present Indian technology, we have the capability as well as the experience to mine coal up to that level. Another question in this context is why are we importing coal when we have so much reserves of coal? The reality is that India is struggling with production shortage not with the coal shortage.  The coal shortage problem is related with infrastructural bottlenecks and it can be corrected with administrative and political measures which can save our vital foreign exchange reserves. On the other hand solar energy is not exactly saving foreign exchange.  Most of the equipment is sourced from overseas suppliers as they come tied to the loans to the solar projects.  In this light, the fuss over imported coal is difficult to accept.

Another major issue in coal mining is the land requirement which necessitates studying land requirement of energy sources.

Energy Source

Land use m2/ GWh/ year


Solar Thermal


Desert based 6 hour storage

Coal  (strip mining)


Including mining

Solar PV


Dedicated land

Source: MIT/ NREL

The data depicted in the chart below shows astonishing facts:


Land requirement

10 GW Coal based power plant can generate 60 billion units at 70 % PLF

57000 m2

To generate the same unit through solar power, 100 GW installed capacity is required

Land required under Solar PV 520000 m2 (9 times)

Land required for solar thermal 320000 m2 (5 times)

Source: varied sources; complied by ORF

The government is pushing underground mining in a big way and so land requirement for coal mining will be reduced considerably and environmental issues will not be major issue in the future.

Another big myth is that solar power is comparable to coal based electricity as the difference in tariffs came down by many folds. The big question here is how did the tariffs come down? This is because of the huge subsidy extended by the government to the developers including but not limited to 30% viability gap funding, accelerated depreciation, 30% capital subsidy etc. Added to this is the reduction in global price of solar equipment on account of subsidies extended to manufacturers in China as well as the tariff subsidies offered in countries like Germany which has created artificial demand. Surprisingly even after getting such a huge subsidy, solar power tariffs is still do not match coal electricity prices. In addition, the Plant Load Factor of solar plants is very low (20 – 30% at the max; in the initial years only) compared with coal based plants (70 – 95%). Therefore, the comparison is not justified. 

Views are those of the author                    

Author can be contacted at [email protected]


State-wise Solar Power Installed Capacity

Akhilesh Sati, Observer Research Foundation

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As on March 2013


Installed Capacity (MW)







Andhra Pradesh


Tamil Nadu








Uttar Pradesh


Madhya Pradesh












West Bengal


Goa & UT


Arunachal Pradesh







Share of schemes in Solar Installed Capacity

Source: Ministry of New & Renewable Energy

Oil & Gas: India’s Milestones              

Dinesh Kumar Madhrey, Observer Research Foundation

Continued from Volume X, Issue 21......


ONGC launched the Deep-Water Campaign name "Sagar Sammridhi". ONGC struck oil in Bassein offshore field. ONGC decided to float a special economic zone (SEZ) at Dahej, Gujarat in joint collaboration with the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). ONGC discovered gas reserves at Khedabari village in Sonamura sub-division of West Tripura district with a production capacity of over two lakh cubic metre per day.

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) emerged as the 'Petrochemicals Company of the Year' at the prestigious sixth annual Platts Global Energy Awards ceremony in New York, USA. Reliance announced it had struck gas off the Orissa Coast in the Bay of Bengal.

In January 2004, Cairn added the Mangala oil field in Rajasthan to its assets and this, along with the other discoveries in Rajasthan, are expected to form core of the future developments in India.


NELP-V: Under the Fifth round of New Exploration Licensing Policy, Government of India invited bids for 20 blocks for exploration of oil and natural gas. Of these, 6 blocks were deepwater (beyond 400m isobath), 2 shallow offshore and 12 were onland blocks. The PSC’s were signed for all 20 exploration blocks. 

IOC signed an exploration & production sharing agreement, with the National Oil Corporation of Libya for a block in the Sirte basin of Libya.


NELP-VI: A total of fifty five blocks (55) were offered during the NELP VI round for exploration of oil and natural gas in 16 prospective sedimentary basins consisted of 25 Onland, 6 Shallow Water and 24 Deep Water blocks. 165 bids received from 68 E&P companies (36 foreign and 32 Indian) participated in the bidding process as consortium/ individually. PSC’s were signed for 52 exploration blocks comprising 21 deepwater, 6 shallow water and 25 onland.


NELP-VII: A total of fifty Seven blocks (57) were offered during the NELP VII round for exploration of oil and natural gas in 18 prospective sedimentary basins consisted of 29 Onland, 9 Shallow Water and 19 Deep Water blocks. Contracts were signed for 41 blocks out of which 11 blocks in Deep Water, 7 blocks in Shallow Water and 23 Onland blocks.

ONGC forayed into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with global oil major, BP, to collaborate in exploration and production (E&P) business in India and abroad.


ONGC started drilling in Cauvery deepwater block. ONGC and Rocksource signed an Agreement for Partnership in Deepwater Block. Reliance also signed MoU with GAIL (India) Limited to explore opportunities of setting up petrochemical plants in feedstock rich countries outside India. In the Refining & Marketing business, Reliance took over majority control of Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (GAPCO) and started shipping products to the East African markets.

to be continued…







Cairn India may get nod to explore rest of Rajasthan oil block

November 11, 2013. Oil and gas producer Cairn India could get the government's permission to explore the remaining two-thirds of the prolific Rajasthan block, which was relinquished more than 14 years ago by operators including Shell that had previously owned the block. With its experience and new technology, Cairn is sure to raise the output at the block and could turn it into India's biggest producing field, surpassing Bombay High. By the time Cairn entered the block as operator, 25% of the area was already relinquished and an additional 25% was relinquished within a short time, denying the company an opportunity to carry out optimal exploration works in the relinquished areas. Shell India Petroleum Development Co initially held the 11,558 sq km block. Cairn took over as operator in 2002 and announced a major discovery in 2005. By then, 8,447 sq km area of the block was already relinquished as per contractual terms. The Rajasthan oilfield is currently producing 1,85,000 barrels of oil per day and has in-principle approval to raise the block's output to 3,00,000 barrels over the next three years. The remaining two-thirds area of the block also has a huge potential. (

OVL, Cairn to jointly bid for Sri Lankan oil, gas blocks

November 6, 2013. ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), and Cairn India Ltd are likely to bid jointly for oil and gas blocks in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is offering 13 offshore exploration blocks in the Cauvery and Mannar basins, located to the North and West of the island nation. OVL-Cairn combine are likely to bid for three of them together. Bids for the Sri Lankan Licensing Round, only the second in its history, close on November 29. OVL wants to hold at least 51 per cent in the consortium it intends to form with Cairn for bidding in the 2nd Licensing Round of Sri Lanka. Of interest of OVL are three blocks M4, M5 and M6 in the Mannar basin. Cairn already has a block in Mannar basin where it has made two gas discoveries. It had won the block in Sri Lanka's first licensing round in 2007 by defeating OVL and Niko Resources of Canada. (

TRS demands share of O&G revenue from KG-D6 Basin

November 6, 2013. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has demanded a share of the revenue from oil and gas resources in KG Basin, potentially complicating the process of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The claim by the party, which spearheaded the agitation for creation of Telangana, has also infuriated the already sulking politicians in Seemandhra. TRS' move just ahead of a crucial meeting of a ministerial panel is being perceived by many as an outlandish demand whose aim is to foul up the process of dividing Andhra Pradesh. Politicians from Seemandhra argued that the proposed Telangana state has no coastline and, therefore, there is no basis at all for any claim on energy resources in KG Basin. TRS' energy claim, which is in a memorandum to the group of ministers set up to oversee bifurcation, is part of a list of demands from the party when the state is partitioned. It has sought complete rights over the country's second-largest coal firm, Singareni Collieries. It also wants control of law and order in the capital Hyderabad amid rumours that the Centre is contemplating retaining policing powers in the city for 10 years. Moreover, in a change in stand on Hyderabad, TRS has said two years will be sufficient for Seemandhra to build its capital city instead of the proposed 10 years. Andhra Pradesh receives royalty of some 10% from onshore oil and gas assets while offshore assets, including KG Basin oil and gas resources, come under the purview of the Union government. (


HPCL aims to operate Vizag refinery at full capacity by Feb

November 12, 2013. State refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) aims to operate its fire-hit Vizag refinery at full capacity from the first week of February. HPCL had partly shut its 166,000-barrel-per-day Vizag refiner in August after a fire in the cooling tower. HPCL also operates a 130,000 bpd plant in western Maharashtra state. It has a stake in the 180,000 bpd Bathinda refinery in northern India, which is operated by Hindustan-Mittal Energy Ltd. (

IOC sees slight delay in Paradip refinery start up

November 8, 2013. Indian Oil Corp (IOC) aims to start its 300,000-barrels-per-day Paradip refinery by April-May instead of March as cyclone Phailin that had hit India's east coast last month caused a labour shortage. Paradip refinery is equipped to process tough grades like that from Latin America but in the initial year of operation IOC will use only low sulphur oil from West Asia and West Africa. The refinery is expected to operate at full capacity within six months of commissioning. IOC is expanding its crude slate and testing new grades including those from Latin America ahead of the start-up of the Paradip refinery. It buys Mexico's Maya crude and in September bought trial cargo of Colombia's Castilla and Vasconia oil. It is also in talks with Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil for term deals. IOC plans to buy a trial cargo of Brazil's Marlim grade in this fiscal year ending in March. IOC, along with subsidiary Chennai Petroleum controls about 31 percent of India's oil refining capacity of 4.3 million bpd. (

Transportation / Trade

ONGC inducts third offshore supply vessel

November 6, 2013. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) flagged off its latest offshore supply vessel (OSV), a step that will strengthen the state-owned exploration giant's operational infrastructure. The vessel has been named after former ONGC Chairman L J Johnson. This is ONGC's third supply vessel and the PSU will add nine more by the end of 2014. The other two vessels have been named after the first Chairman K D Malviya and his successor P R Nayak. OSVs are most critical components for the seamless operations in the offshore. Acquisitions of these OSVs in our fleet will provide an extraordinary strength to our offshore operations. The vessel will cater to the needs of the company's offshore installations. In fact, the bulk of the ONGC's production comes from the Western offshore fields, which contribute 71 per cent of oil and 54 per cent of gas. LJ Johnson is the third OSV that has been constructed by Pipavav Shipyard, which had been given a bulk contract for 12 such vessels in 2009. The total investment for ONGC stands at around ` 550 crore for 12 OSVs. So, on an average each vessel is costing around ` 45 crore. Having a capacity of 549 tonne each, these vessels can carry a load of up to 1,800 tonne and are built with latest navigation and control systems. (

IOC offers rare light diesel oil cargo

November 6, 2013. Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has offered a rare light diesel oil cargo in the spot market. The refiner is offering 6,000 to 8,000 tonnes of the oil product for loading from Budge Budge terminal from November 26 to 28. The refinery could be offering light diesel oil due to a drop in domestic consumption. IOC last sold light diesel oil in late October and has only sold two cargoes before that, in February and April, in 2012. IOC is probably offering the product due to maintenance at secondary units. Light diesel oil can be used as feedstock in these units. Indian Oil had planned to shut some secondary units including a fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) and a hydrocracker unit in November for maintenance. (

Policy / Performance

Govt likely to allow doubling of KG-D6 gas price

November 11, 2013. The government is likely to allow doubling of price of gas from its KG-D6 block provided the company gives bank guarantees that can be encashed if proved that the energy major was hoarding gas. The Oil Ministry had in a draft note to the Cabinet proposed that RIL be forced to sell gas from D1&D3 gas fields in KG-D6 block at current rate of USD 4.2 till it is proved that the over 80 per cent fall output was due to natural reasons, or the firm makes up for producing less than target since 2010-11. However, the glitch in the plan was how the government would make up for the difference between the current rate of USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit and the new rate of almost USD 8.4 that is to become applicable for all domestic gas from April 1 next year, if at a later date it is proved that the fall in output was actually due to geological reasons and RIL was not hoarding gas. (

Gas dispute: SC declines stay on RIL's arbitration petition

November 11, 2013. The Supreme Court (SC) declined to stay the hearing relating to the appointment of a presiding arbitrator for adjudication of dispute between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Government over recovery of cost for developing the country's key natural gas field in the KG basin. RIL had moved the apex court for appointment of an arbitrator from foreign country with which parties in disputes are not connected after the Centre had declined the proposal. (

PSU Oil firms yet to receive ` 8.5 bn spent on cash transfer scheme

November 9, 2013. State oil firms have paid ` 855 crore to cooking customers under the direct benefit transfer scheme of the UPA government but they have not been reimbursed for the subsidy payout, IOC said. IOC alone is waiting for reimbursement of ` 400 crore as the government has not made budgetary provision for the same. The scheme has resulted in 14-26% drop in cooking gas demands in areas where it has been launched. Net profit for the quarter ended September fell 82.5% to ` 1,684 crore due to foreign exchange loss of ` 2,158 crore besides outstanding reimbursements of ` 413 crore from the government. Revenue loss was ` 9.58 per litre for diesel, ` 35.77 per litre for kerosene and ` 482.50 per cylinder of cooking gas. For the first half of the current fiscal, IOC reported a net loss of ` 1,409 crore as compared to loss of ` 12,840 crore during the year-ago period. (

Govt squeezes oil PSUs to meet fiscal deficit target

November 8, 2013. State-run oil companies are feeling the pain of the finance minister's determination to meet his fiscal deficit target, with officials warning that exploration is under threat and losses at oil firms could steepen. Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily warned the finance minister, P. Chidambaram, that the subsidy burden placed on upstream companies was making oil fields unviable. His ministry also forecast that revenue losses further downstream at fuel retailers Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum will rise to ` 803.16 billion ($12.83 billion) in October-March, from ` 623.32 billion ($9.96 billion) in April-September. India budgeted fuel subsidies for the fiscal year to March 2014 at ` 650 billion. The oil ministry said that is likely to be more like ` 1.4 trillion. The finance and oil ministries want to raise the price of subsidised fuel, such as diesel, to reduce pressure on government spending. But with state elections in coming weeks ahead of national elections that must be held by May, the chance of the coalition government agreeing to a significant price increase is slim. Instead, the finance ministry is shifting much of the added cost of fuel subsidies onto the balance sheets of state oil exploration companies and oil retailers, such as ONGC and IOC. Under the subsidy scheme, exploration companies sell crude and products to state refiners and retailers at a $56 per barrel discount to global prices. (

Govt to go easy on enforcing 'rigid' O&G contracts

November 6, 2013. The government plans to form an empowered group under the oil minister to grant "operational flexibility" in enforcing contracts, and help explorers start producing oil and gas from over 70 discoveries that are mired in contractual disputes. The production sharing contract between the government and the explorer has rigid timelines for each stage of exploration. Government officials are inclined to take action against companies even if deadlines are missed by one day, creating an atmosphere of mistrust between the ministry and the companies that discover oil and gas. The proposed empowered inter-ministerial group under the petroleum minister would have the power to ease the inflexibility in contracts, which is blocking oil and gas production. According to a list prepared by the oil ministry, the fate of over 70 discoveries is uncertain mainly because contractors deviated from prescribed deadlines or processes. Government officials supervising contracts are aware that complex petroleum operations need flexibility to boost oil and gas output, but they are scared to recommend any waiver fearing adverse audit comments and allegations of corruption. (

Moily asks Finance Ministry to cut duties on branded petrol, diesel

November 6, 2013. Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily has asked the Finance Ministry to cut duties on branded petrol and diesel that offer better mileage and help cut fuel consumption. Currently, the Finance Ministry levies higher excise duty on premium or branded petrol and diesel, making them costlier than normal or unbranded auto fuel. While a litre of regular/normal or unbranded petrol costs ` 72.45 in Delhi, branded petrol is priced at ` 81.88. Similarly, normal diesel in Delhi costs ` 52.54 a litre while branded diesel is priced at ` 67.93. The Finance Ministry had in 2009 Budget introduced new duties on branded fuels, which raised the differential between regular and branded fuel. Also, in September last year, the government stopped providing subsidy on branded fuel, resulting in further dip in sales. The current unbranded or normal diesel price of ` 52.54 a litre includes a subsidy of ` 9.20. Ever since their introduction in 2002, sale of premium or branded fuels have dwindled from a peak of 5.9 million kilolitres of diesel and 3.4 million kl of petrol in 2007-08 to a mere 0.45 kl of diesel and 0.09 kl of petrol in 2012-13. Currently, the government levies an excise duty of ` 1.20 per litre on normal or unbranded petrol while the same on branded petrol is ` 7.50. Similarly, unbranded diesel attracts an excise duty of ` 1.46 per litre while ` 3.75 duty is levied on branded diesel. Moily says the reduction in excise duty by ` 6.30 per litre on petrol and ` 2.29 on diesel would not impact government revenues as current sale of branded fuels was "meager". But it would help in conservation as these fuels provide improved engine performance to yield 2 per cent savings in consumption. Branded petrol and diesel is priced at a premium to regular fuel as additives put in them remove harmful deposits from engines, prevent corrosion, reduce emissions and lower maintenance costs. (



VBC Ferro Alloys to develop 2x60 MW captive power plant on a priority basis

November 12, 2013. VBC Ferro Alloys Ltd has informed the BSE that the board of directors of the company has decided to hive off and develop 2x60 MW coal-based captive power plant on a priority basis. The company has already obtained all necessary permission and approval for the implementation of the project. Keeping in view the acute power shortage scenario in Andhra Pradesh, the board of directors at its meeting felt it necessary to implement the captive power plant on a priority basis as the existing ferro alloy unit is unable to carry on its manufacturing operations due to high power tariff and non-availability of adequate power. (

Power generation resumes at KNPP

November 11, 2013. Power generation at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu, which was temporarily suspended, has resumed after the turbine of the first unit was resynchronised with the Southern grid. The 1000MWe first unit was shut down for the second time in a week for some tests as mandated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Power at KNPP will be increased towards the 1000MWe benchmark by December this year once the unit attains operational stability. Unit-1 attained criticality this year after much delay following protests against KNPP by anti-nuclear activists in areas around the complex, citing safety reasons. Nuclear Power Corporation of India is constructing two 1,000 MW units at KNPP jointly with Russia at Kudankulam in Tiruneveli district. (

Reliance Power to commission second unit of 660 MW at Sasan in December

November 8, 2013. Reliance Power will commission the second unit of its sasan ultra mega power project (UMPP) in December after it successfully lit-up the boiler for the unit. The company had bagged three of the four UMPPs of 4,000 MW each awarded by the government but Sasan is the only one where work has progressed. In March 2013, the first unit of 660 MW at Sasan was commissioned. The company has already started production of coal from the coal mines attached to the Sasan project. Reliance Power has an operational capacity of 2,545 MW. At the time of its initial public offer in 2008, R-Power had planned to set up power plants with a combined capacity of 28,200 MW across India, fuelled by coal or gas as well as hydropower. Since then, the company has added a few new projects but also abandoned some. It later revised its capacity addition target to 25,000 MW by 2015, but it now expects to add 20,000 MW by 2020, given the slowdown in the industry. (

Ashapani micro hydel project commissioned in Arunachal Pradesh

November 7, 2013. The 2x30 kilo watt Ashapani micro hydel project has been commissioned in Chaglagam circle under remote Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering China. With the commissioning of the project recently, the long-awaited demand of the circle for total electrification of the remotest circle and its adjoining villages has been fulfilled. Chaglagam was in news recently over the intrusion of Chinese troops across the Line of Control in August. Meanwhile, the department has been working on another hydel project, 2x100 KW Kachopani project in the same circle which is expected to be completed by December. Both the projects were funded under the Special Plan Assistance of the Prime Minister's package. The district has tremendous scope for hydel power generation due to various perennial streams and rivers. So, the Hydro Power department has been making all-out efforts to harness their potentials at various pockets of the circles in the district in order to make Anjaw a 'power house' district in next few years. A switch yard needed to be constructed to connect the power grid to supply in the power deficit districts including Lohit, Dibang and Lower Dibang Valley, Changlang and Tirap. (

Transmission / Distribution / Trade

Alstom T&D India will supply its energy management system to Power Grid Corporation of India

November 11, 2013. Alstom T&D India will help monitor and control India's electricity supply network with two contracts worth ` 100 crore awarded by Power Grid Corporation of India Alstom will supply its energy management system (EMS) to enable reliable, secure and efficient operation of the electric power system. The scope of the two contracts covers EMS packages for India's Southern and Western Regional Load Dispatch Centres (SRLDC and WRLDC). The growth in India's electrical grid capacity requires the upgrade to both 765 kV AC transmission and High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission for bulk power transfer. These technologies need to be backed up by equally advanced energy management software. Alstom's EMS ensures overall reliability of the electric power system, through state-of-the-art user interface and situational awareness capacities. It is anticipated that this will enable Powergrid operators to make fast decisions using advanced visualisation, information storage and retrieval tools. (

Haryana power distributions corp earns highest-ever revenue in October

November 9, 2013. The Haryana Power Distribition Corporations (Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam and Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam) earned highest-ever revenue of over ` 1450 crore, in the month of October, 2013 registering an increase by about 60% in last one year. The principal secretary (power), Haryana, Devender Singh said that the reasons of sharp increase in revenue realisation have been the increased power supply and more efforts made by the officials of the nigams. He said that the component of employee cost in the total cost of power supply in Haryana was lowest in India. The employee cost in Haryana is merely 42 to 45 paise per unit. Devender Singh said that there are tremendous possibilities to reduce the aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses and considerable savings can be made simply by reducing these losses. High technical losses in the system are primarily due to inadequate system improvement works, unplanned extensions of the distribution lines, overloading of the system elements like transformers and conductors and lack of adequate reactive power support. The commercial losses are mainly due to under billing, accumulation of reading, non-payment of bills, theft & pilferages. He said that to reduce technical losses considerably, it should be ensured that no line, transformer or sub-station has a load of more than 70% of the capacity. Augmentation and improvement plans should be prepared and submitted for approval as and when load touches 70% of capacity. IT-based analytics, energy audit, load balancing, electronic downloadable meters with AMR facilities, proper energy accounting & auditing, improved billing & collection efficiency and focused enforcement drives are some of the steps required to be taken with more firmness for reduction of losses. He said that to overcome the mismatch between and transmission and distribution system, the discoms have prepared a three-year development plan under which the capacity of the system will be augmented by adding new sub-stations and net work of lines and segregating and maintaining the overloaded feeders. (

Policy / Performance

OilMin seeks CBM blocks on a 'nomination basis'

November 12, 2013. It might be tough for Coal India to get coal bed methane (CBM) blocks without participating in the next round of bidding. The coal ministry has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Oil and Petroleum asking it to give CBM blocks on a nomination basis. Coal India has a monopoly in coal production and it owns large tracts of coal mining land across the country. It also holds 19 identified CBM blocks. The oil ministry is looking to seek international bids for all blocks, including the ones on land under Coal India’s control. On the other hand, private CBM drillers are not very happy about the proposal to allot these blocks without bidding to Coal India, as well. Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd (GEECL) is the largest CBM gas producer from its Raniganj (South) block at Asansol in West Bengal. At present, GEECL produces 0.57 million standard cubic metres a day (mscmd) from the block and plans to increase over a period of time. The company has drilled 150 wells and plans to drill 150 more wells in the Raniganj block over the next few years. Production is expected to rise to 3 mscmd when all 300 wells start production. (

PM's committee on hydropower: Power producers seek more representation

November 11, 2013. Power producers have sought more representation of the industry in the committee set up by the government to assess the impact of Uttarakhand's two dozen hydropower projects on the ecology of the hill state that witnessed devastating flash floods in June. The Association of Power Producers (APP) and Indian National Hydropower Association (INHA) have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ministry of environment & forests that the committee lacks representation from the industry as well as a few relevant government bodies in the power sector. The panel constituted by the ministry following the Supreme Court order last month should have a balanced representation from all stakeholders including the power ministry, Planning Commission, hydropower project developers and Uttarakhand's power department, among others, the industry bodies have said. The committee of experts has been mandated to ascertain whether existing and under-construction hydroelectric projects in the river basins of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and their tributaries have contributed to environmental degradation. Besides state-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, private players such as Lanco, GMR Energy, GVK and JP Power are implementing nearly 2,600 MW of hydropower projects at an investment of about ` 20,000 crore in the state. The committee will also submit its opinion on whether 24 hydropower projects located along Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins will impact the local geology. The committee, which is set to soon hold a meeting, is chaired by Ravi Chopra, director of the Dehradun-based non-profit research and development organisation People's Science Institute. Uttarakhand's chief engineer for water resources department is also part of the committee. INHA has proposed names of former member of Central Water Commission CM Pandit, former UJVNL CMD AB Giri and ministry of power's former joint secretary Jayant Kawle to be included in the committee. (

GE's $200 mn manufacturing facility in Pune to be operational from mid-2014

November 8, 2013. The $200 million manufacturing facility being set up by GE India in Pune will start functioning by June. GE South Asia president and CEO Banmali Agrawala said the products manufactured from the facility will also be exported to other countries. The Government of Maharashtra and GE last year signed an MoU for the upcoming manufacturing site which is located at MIDC Industrial Park at Chakan, Phase II, Pune. The facility, to begin with, will focus on Energy products and technologies driven by the industry needs for power generation, transmission and distribution as well as measurement and control, GE India had earlier said. Agrawala said India should focus on becoming a manufacturing hub for the global markets rather than remain a domestic player for own consumption. Agrawala said there is huge mistrust and distrust on the business community all over the world. He said the India is on a learning curve in the regulatory process and it is working well. On rupee depreciation, he said there may not be much impact on GE India due to currency fluctuation. (

Take up Chhattisgarh power project with CCEA: GMR to Coal Minister

November 6, 2013. GMR Group has asked Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal to take up with Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) the issue of providing fuel for its 1370 MW supercritical power project in Chhattisgarh, involving a cost of ` 8,290 crore, which is scheduled to start commercial operations next year. GMR Group is setting up 1370 MW coal-based supercritical thermal power project at Raikheda in Chhattisgarh. The project is in advanced stage of commissioning with 89 per cent of project work completed and scheduled to achieve commercial operation by April 2014. (




US to be top oil producer by 2015 on shale, IEA says

November 12, 2013. The U.S. will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015, and be close to energy self-sufficiency in the next two decades, amid booming output from shale formations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. Crude prices will advance to $128 a barrel by 2035 with a 16 percent increase in consumption supporting the development of so-called tight oil in the U.S. and a tripling in output from Brazil, the IEA said. The role of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will recover in the middle of the next decade as other nations struggle to repeat North America’s success with exploiting shale deposits. U.S. oil production will rise to 11.6 million barrels a day in 2020, from 9.2 million in 2012, as it taps rock and shale layers in North Dakota and Texas with the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, according to the IEA. The report didn’t specify an output level for 2015. Over the same time period, Saudi Arabian production will fall to 10.6 million from 11.7 million and Russia slips to 10.4 million from 10.7 million barrels. The figures include natural gas liquids, condensates and crude. U.S. output will plateau after 2020 and the nation will lose its top ranking at the start of the 2030s, the IEA said. (

Statoil reports 55 to 100 mn barrel discovery at Snilehorn

November 11, 2013. Statoil reported that it has made an oil discovery at the Snilehorn prospect in the Norwegian Sea, some nine miles northeast of the Njord field. Snilehorn is the third near-field discovery in the Norwegian Sea in three months. The firm said that exploration well 6407/8-6 and sidetrack well 6407/8-6A have proven several oil columns in formations dating from the Jurassic period. The estimated volume of the discovery is between 55 and 100 million barrels of recoverable oil. Statoil described the oil as being light and of high quality. (

ADCO starts production at Qusahwira Oil field

November 11, 2013. Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), has started production from Qusahwira Oil field. The company started production Nov. 6, with initial production capacity of 30,000 barrel of oil per day. The development cost of the project is about $ 1 billon. The company is also planning to increase the production capacity of the project in the next 5 years. The field is part of the new company’s strategy that aims to increase crude oil production to1.8 million barrel of oil per day by 2017 from current 1.6 million barrel of oil per day. (

UAE's Crescent Petroleum eyes Africa exploration

November 10, 2013. Crescent Petroleum, the Middle East’s oldest privately-owned oil and gas company, is considering exploration opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa. The Sharjah-based firm, along with affiliate Dana Gas, currently has interests in oil and gas fields in the UAE, Egypt, Qatar and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, but is also looking to take advantage of Africa’s hydrocarbons boom. Africa is believed to currently supply about 12 percent of the world’s oil, with untapped reserves of approximately 132.4 trillion barrels, or 8 percent of proven reserves globally. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the continent has natural gas reserves of 513.2 trillion cubic feet, or 7 percent of the world’s supply. The report said that only about 30 percent of 2,900 blocks in sub-Saharan Africa have so far been licenced. (

Colombia's Ecopetrol seeks 63 pc production rise by 2020

November 8, 2013. Ecopetrol, Colombia's publicly traded, state-controlled oil company, said it will spend as much as $75 billion by 2020 to lift oil and gas production to 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed). The investment would represent a rise of more than 60 percent over output levels of 800,000 boed in the third quarter. The company said it plans to concentrate on new exploration and production projects in Colombian onshore and offshore fields. Around 85 percent of the capital expenditures would be dedicated to exploration and production projects. (

BHP Billiton’s former oil chief Yeager expects more US M&A

November 7, 2013. BHP Billiton Ltd.’s former oil and gas head J. Michael Yeager expects more industry mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. as onshore developers seek to sell assets they can’t develop and boost their technical skills. Investor unrest over lackluster returns has prompted Occidental Petroleum Corp., Hess Corp., Apache Corp. and other energy companies to pursue breakup plans and global asset sales. Yeager, who led BHP’s $20 billion move into the U.S. shale gas industry before leaving the Melbourne-based company, is focusing on oil in his new role at Maverick, an explorer developing fields south of Houston. (


Asian oil refiners face 5 yrs of thin margins, run cuts

November 11, 2013. Asian oil refiners face weak margins for turning crude into fuel over the next five years and may be forced to run plants at reduced rates as startups in China and India keep capacity well ahead of demand. China and India, already with nearly half of Asia's more than 30 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity, are cranking up this year and next another 2.5 million bpd that was approved a few years back to feed rapidly expanding economies. Also racing to build plants over the next several years are countries such as Pakistan and Vietnam, driven by a desire to cut fuel imports and limit outflows of foreign currency. The additional capacity threatens to leave refiners selling fuels into well-supplied markets as regional demand growth slows with the moderation of economic expansion, particularly in China, the world's second largest oil consumer. Total Asian refining capacity may increase to as much as 36 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2018, according to estimates from five consultancies and research houses. (

Shell signs agreement to sell stake in Ceska Rafinerska

November 11, 2013. Anglo–Dutch multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell has signed an agreement with Unipetrol to sell 16.3% stake in Ceska Rafinerska, for about $27.2 mn. Ceska Rafinerska, with a combined capacity of 177,000 barrels per day, includes Kralupy refinery and the Litvinov refinery. The transaction is expected to complete in 2014. Shell has established long-term supply agreements, and will continue serving customers in the Czech Republic. The company also sold refineries in the UK and Germany, as part of its strategy to concentrate on global downstream footprint, where it is most competitive. (

Sri Lanka hardens stand on pact to lease oil storage to IOC

November 10, 2013. Hardening its stance, Sri Lanka has refused to sign a decade old agreement to lease the Trincomalee strategic oil storages to a unit of Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and is blocking the Indian firm’s plans to set up a bitumen plant in the island nation. In 2003, Lanka IOC — a subsidiary of IOC — bought one-third share in Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd which operates the China Bay tank farm. Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC) and Colombo entered into an MoU with Lanka IOC to grant a long-term lease to the Indian firm for operating the 99 storage tanks at Trincomalee for 35 years for an annual fee of $100,000. However, the 35-year lease finalisation dragged on and now Colombo has reservations on leasing out a ‘state asset’ to Lanka IOC. Under privatisation, Colombo gave Lanka IOC the farm of 99 storage tanks, of which 15 are being used and two more are being refurbished at a cost of $17 million. The 99 storage tanks and ancillary facilities are divided into ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ farms. The lower tank farm with 15 tanks is currently being utilised by Lanka IOC for storing and distribution of petroleum products. The upper tank farm consists of 84 tanks in an area of about 800 acres and is not being utilised presently except for storage of water in 4 tanks. (

Indonesia's Pertamina restarts refinery-petrochemical plant

November 8, 2013. Indonesia's state energy firm Pertamina said it had restarted a refining and petrochemical complex in East Java province owned by Trans-Pacific Petrochemical Indotama (TPPI), in a move aimed at reducing imports of oil products and chemicals. Pertamina said that it had signed an agreement with plant operator TPPI to use the facility for six months. The plant had been idled for nearly two years due to heavy debts at TPPI. During the six-month agreement, the plant will process 55,000 to 80,000 barrels of condensate per day (bpd) and will produce about 1.5 million barrels of gasoil and fuel oil, 36,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 2.8 million barrels of light naphtha. A total of 530,000 tonnes of petrochemicals will also be produced, Pertamina said. The designed capacity of the condensate splitter is 100,000 bpd. (

Saudi Aramco sells first jet fuel cargo from new refinery

November 7, 2013. Saudi Aramco has sold its first jet fuel cargo from a new joint-venture refinery in Jubail, with the shipment likely to head to Europe. The 40,000-tonne cargo, which will likely be loading in mid-November, was sold to an oil major and could be the company's only sale of jet fuel from the refinery this year. (

Sinochem to start Quanzhou refinery in December

November 6, 2013. Chinese state company Sinochem plans to start its first wholly-owned refinery Quanzhou plant in December, 2013, situated in the southeast coast of the country. The refinery is expected to process around 240,000 barrels per day, while it will start processing of about 100,000 bpd of Iraqi crude after completing test runs. (

Transportation / Trade

Petronas stands by Brent even after manipulation claim

November 12, 2013. Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state energy company, remains committed to using Brent as a benchmark for buying and selling oil even amid accusations of price fixing. Four energy traders claimed in a lawsuit that some of the world’s biggest oil companies including BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc conspired with Morgan Stanley and energy traders such as Vitol Group to fix spot prices for Brent for more than a decade. The North Sea oil price as assessed by Platts, a unit of New York-based McGraw Hill Financial Inc., is used to price more than half the world’s crude including Australia’s Cossack, Malaysia’s Tapis and Castilla in Colombia. The case is one of at least seven U.S. lawsuits alleging price fixing in the London-based Brent market. European Union antitrust authorities raided the offices of companies including Platts, BP and Shell in May amid allegations of collusion in setting prices of crude, refined products and biofuels. The probe comes as global regulators scrutinize financial measures around the world after fining banks about $2.5 billion for distorting other benchmarks. Petronas, as Malaysia’s state energy company is known, reported a 16 percent increase in third-quarter profit on increased sales. Net income rose to 14.5 billion ringgit ($4.5 billion) in the three months through September from a restated 12.5 billion ringgit a year earlier. (

EmiratesLNG to build LNG import terminal in Fujairah

November 12, 2013. EmiratesLNG will build and operate the Middle East's first land based liquefied natural gas (LNG) re-gasification facility at Fujairah following government approval for the project, the company has announced. EmiratesLNG, a joint venture between International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and Mubadala Petroleum, said it would push ahead with the project after Abu Dhabi Executive Council decided to approve the project. EmiratesLNG’s  regasification terminal will have an average throughput capacity of 1.2 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas per day. The terminal will be able to accommodate the largest LNG carriers with the ability to access competitively priced LNG from any source around the world, the company said. (

Rosneft agrees to ship oil to China via Kazakhstan

November 11, 2013. Rosneft said it had agreed on the basic principles for shipping oil to China via neighboring Kazakhstan in a deal essential for the Russian company to honor its supply commitments to Beijing. The preliminary agreement was signed by executives of Rosneft, Kazakh state oil firm KazMunaiGas and oil pipeline monopoly KazTransOil KZTO.KZ. Rosneft would supply 7 million metric tons a year (140,000 barrels of oil per day) to China via Kazakhstan. Rosneft would pay export duty to the Russian state. Russia and Kazakhstan are part of a Moscow-led duty-free customs union, and the issue of how export duty would be levied was one key obstacle to the agreement. The fee stands at $395.90 per metric ton in November. In return, KazTransOil would cut transportation tariffs for Rosneft, which aims to start shipping oil next year. Rosneft and Kazakhstan plan to clinch a final deal by the year-end. Rosneft is preparing to triple oil exports to China to some 1 million barrels per day (bpd), seeking to secure market share and billions of dollars in pre-payments. But it lacks infrastructure to ship increased volumes to Beijing and has been considering shipments via Kazakhstan of up to 10 million metric tons a year (200,000 bpd) starting from January 1, 2014. (

Pirates take tanker in Strait of Malacca near Singapore

November 11, 2013. Pirates hijacked a second tanker in a month off the Malaysian coast near Singapore, Asia’s biggest oil-trading hub, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)). Ten pirates armed with guns and knives boarded a vessel about 7.3 nautical miles (13.5 kilometers) west of Malaysia’s Pulau Kukup in the Strait of Malacca, forcing the crew to transfer its gasoil cargo to another ship, the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center said. The attack was about 34 miles west of Singapore. The Malacca Strait, which connects the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, is one of the world’s two “most strategic chokepoints” for oil trade along with the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It’s the shortest sea route between the Middle East and Asia with about 15.2 million barrels of oil a day transported along the waterway in 2011, according to the EIA. About 90 percent of that was crude. The oil-products tanker contained gasoil, the IMB said. A fishing vessel was the only ship to be hijacked in the Strait of Malacca in all of last year. The incident follows the hijacking of an oil-products tanker off Malaysia’s Pulau Aur in the South China Sea on Oct. 10, about 67 miles northeast of Singapore. Pirates stole the ship’s cargo before abandoning it on Oct. 15. The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia reported that a vessel called the Danai 4, carrying marine gasoil from Singapore to Vietnam, lost contact with its owners in the area on Oct. 10. Singapore, at the southern end of the Malacca Strait, was the world’s biggest container port in 2012 after Shanghai and the busiest trans-shipment hub. It’s the site of Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s largest oil refinery globally. There have been 206 reported incidents of piracy worldwide this year, including 11 hijackings, data from the IMB showed. The number of attacks fell globally to 188 in the nine months to September from 233 for the same period last year. The number of armed robbery attacks on vessels in Indonesia is rising, the IMB said. (

Statoil proposes new North Sea gas pipeline for Sverdrup field

November 8, 2013. Statoil has proposed building a subsea pipeline twice as big as needed to take gas from Norway's giant new Johan Sverdrup oil and gas field to cater for future finds which could be tied into the new line. Statoil aims to build a 10-million cubic metre per day, 165-kilometre gas pipeline from the field, which will go into operation towards the end of the decade, taking gas to the onshore Kaarstoe processing plant near Stavanger. (

Iran offers to ship crude to India for free to boost sales

November 7, 2013. Iran is offering free delivery of crude to major client India, signalling that tough Western sanctions which have slashed its exports in half are driving Tehran to increasingly desperate measures to keep oil flowing. The United States has yet to ease the pressure on Asian buyers to continue reducing purchases from the OPEC member, even though Iran and world powers began two days of talks hoping to reach a "first step" towards ending the decade-old standoff over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. The drop in exports is costing Iran billions of dollars in lost revenue every month. Tehran is also unable to repatriate most of the money earned from oil it does manage to sell, as the sanctions have cut off bank transfer facilities, crippling its economy by choking off its biggest revenue stream. Despite the near halt of petrodollar payments, Iran is resorting to measures such as offering deep discounts on oil and now free delivery to India. Iran's remaining Indian clients - Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, Essar Oil and Indian Oil Corp - could save freight of 70 cents to $1 a barrel on purchases from Iran. Tehran is also offering Indian buyers a discount on price if refiners raise purchases. Iran already offers 90 days' credit on crude sales to Indian refiners while most other producers stick to 30 days' credit. While any discount would be attractive as India tries to curb an oil import bill that was around $170 billion in 2012/13, it likely would be wary of raising imports just prior to a review of its waiver from US sanctions. (

Oil industry may invoke trade law to challenge export ban

November 6, 2013. The U.S. oil industry, riding a domestic energy boom, is preparing to challenge restrictions on crude exports, possibly by arguing that limits designed to keep petroleum in America may violate international trade rules. Industry officials say the push is just starting to lift the 1970s-era restrictions, and they acknowledge it will be an uphill fight that raises sensitive political issues. The U.S. is producing more oil than it has in nearly a quarter-century, though, reducing its reliance on imports and putting the nation closer to energy independence than it has been since 1989, according to the Energy Information Administration. (

Policy / Performance

China may loosen energy price controls after planning meeting

November 12, 2013. China may announce looser energy price controls and the break up of the domestic duopoly of PetroChina Co. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. after a four-day Communist Party meeting ends. China uses its big three oil companies, of which PetroChina is the largest, to control domestic fuel prices and secure energy supplies from overseas to meet the burgeoning needs of the world’s second-biggest economy. Energy price liberalization was mentioned when the Development Research Center of the State Council, a government affiliated think tank, published recommendations for reform known as the ‘383 plan.’ The report suggested China should develop new price-setting mechanisms to better reflect international markets, relax barriers to oil and gas exploration and speed up development of shale gas resources. (

China plans 3rd shale gas auction

November 8, 2013. China plans to launch a third round of tenders to develop its shale gas blocks soon and some of the blocks on offer would be less geologically challenging. The blocks to be auctioned will be located mainly in the southwest city of Chongqing as well as in the provinces of Sichuan and Hubei, the paper said, citing an industry source close to the Ministry of Land and Resources. Compared with the second round of the auction, all the major Chinese state oil firms will participate, implying there is more confidence in the potential of the shale gas blocks. However, there is no interest yet from private companies, the paper said. Results of the auction will be announced as early as January next year, the paper said, adding that resource rich blocks in the Erdos Plateau in Inner Mongolia may also be included in the sale. Stymied by the cost of drilling and complexity of tapping shale gas, China has struggled in its bid to revolutionize its energy supplies and unlock what may be the world's largest shale gas reserves by emulating the frenetic exploration and production of the U.S. shale boom. But Chinese oil giant Sinopec Corp is for the first time pumping shale gas from test wells in commercial quantities in what it hopes will be a breakthrough in the development of a badly needed new energy source. In the second tender in 2012, the government awarded 19 exploration blocks to 16 local companies who pledged at least $2 billion over the following three years. Among the 16 winning firms, six were state-run and mostly affiliated with big utilities and coal miners including Huadian Group, Shenhua Group and China Coal Group. Eight others were energy investment firms freshly formed under the auspice of local governments and two were little known private firms. (

South African Parliament to adopt mineral law changes next year

November 6, 2013. Amendments to South Africa’s mining and oil laws to ensure the country benefits more from its natural resources need refinement and won’t be adopted until next year, Faith Bikani, the acting chairwoman of Parliament’s mineral resources committee said. Proposed changes to the 2002 Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act include giving the state the right to a free 20 percent stake in all new energy ventures as well as compelling some mining companies to sell part of their output to local processors. Miners Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. have said the measures will hurt business, discourage investment and may violate South Africa’s constitution and its international trade obligations. South Africa imports about 70 percent of its oil needs, processing the remainder of its fuels from coal and gas. The country had proven oil reserves of 15 million barrels in January 2011, located to the south and off the west coast near the Namibian border. While Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in The Hague have stakes in offshore blocks, extraction is yet to take off. (

Mexico parties said to seek oil license contracts in bill

November 6, 2013. Mexico’s two largest parties reached a preliminary accord that would give companies more control in new oil field contracts than the government is proposing. The ruling PRI and opposition PAN parties will support a new measure to allow the state to decide the type of contracts to be offered for each project, including service contracts, profit and production sharing and licenses. Like the concession model proposed by PAN, licenses would grant broader operational control of projects than the government’s initial profit-sharing model and allow companies to manage oil directly. President Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking to end a 75-year state monopoly on pumping crude and to attract investment from companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. to boost the $95 billion industry. The government says the bill, now before the Senate, would lift economic growth 1 percentage point by 2018 and help state-run Petroleos Mexicanos return to output growth. Third-quarter crude production of 2.506 million barrels per day was 1.6 percent lower than the same period a year earlier. Pemex, as Petroleos Mexicanos is known, lost 39.2 billion pesos ($3.05 billion) in the third quarter. Allowing companies to explore and drill for gas and oil in Mexico requires a constitutional amendment that could only pass with a two-thirds majority in both the lower house and Senate. The PAN, Mexico’s largest opposition party, along with Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its allies, have enough votes to approve a charter change. Both parties have said talks are advancing in congress on an electoral reform that the PAN has said is a requirement for it to pass an energy bill. The third-largest party, the Democratic Revolution Party, is against a constitutional change in energy. (

OPEC said to be unresolved on criteria for new secretary general

November 6, 2013. OPEC has yet to decide on requirements for selecting a new secretary general to replace Abdalla El-Badri, whose extended term ends this year. The organization’s board of governors ended a meeting in Vienna without agreeing on the selection criteria, asking not to be identified because discussions among the 12 member nations are private. El-Badri, a former Libyan oil minister, served two three-year terms as secretary general before being given a one-year extension last December. He may be asked to remain for another 12 months. A decision will be taken when the group’s ministers meet next, on Dec. 4 in Vienna. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries comprises (OPEC) Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The two biggest producers, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, have both submitted candidates for secretary general, as has Iran. (



Schneider Electric to build Iraq power plant

November 12, 2013. French energy management firm, Schneider Electric, has won a contract to build a power plant in Iraq. In the case of the completion of this plant, it will be the largest in the area and the third of its kind in terms of delivery to contribute the compensation for the shortfall for the processing of electrical power in the area. Schneider employs more than 140,000 people in over 100 countries. Last year revenues were $32 bn. (

Abengoa to build power-plant RO project in Chile

November 11, 2013. Spanish contractor Abengoa has been selected by Chilean energy company AES Gener to develop a reverse-osmosis desalination plant for the Angamos power plant. Abengoa has signed a memorandum of understanding with AES Gener for the US$ 26 million plant, which will provide 19,200 m³/d of water. Abengoa will manage the engineering, construction and subsequent operation of the project, which is its first desalination project in Chile and South America, although the company has had a presence for over 27 years in Chile, where it has developed projects in water and energy infrastructure. (

Alliant Energy wins approval for Marshalltown power plant

November 11, 2013. Alliant Energy's Iowa utility company received a proposed decision and order from Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) Chair Libby Jacobs approving a siting certificate and establishing ratemaking principles for the proposed Marshalltown Generating Station. The proposed power plant is a nearly 600 MW, combined-cycle natural gas facility planned for construction in Marshalltown, Iowa. The company is in the process of attaining other state and federal permitting approvals necessary to construct and operate the power station. The IUB's approval is conditional on receiving these permits. Pending all regulatory approvals, the company expects to begin construction in 2014 and begin operations in 2017. (

China Eximbank lends Zimbabwe $319 mn for hydro-power plant

November 11, 2013. China Export-Import Bank signed a deal to lend 319.5 million US dollars to finance the expansion of Zimbabwe's major hydro-power station, boosting its power supply by 300 MW when the project ends in five years. Zimbabwe has been grappling with massive power blackouts due to ageing generation plants and the growing demand for power to re-ignite growth of its industries. The expansion of Kariba South Hydro electricity plant, on Zambezi River about 400 km from Harare, costs 355 million US dollars. With China Eximbank covering 90 percent of the cost, Zimbabwe Power Company will take care of the rest 10 percent. The Finance Ministry said Zimbabwe will pay a concessionary 2 percent interest on the loan over 20 years. There is also a five-year grace period. The country's power generation firm has been producing about 1, 200 MW against the current energy demand estimated at about 1, 700 MW. But the demand can further grow once the industries are revived. (

Siemens to build turnkey heat and power plant

November 11, 2013. Siemens Energy will build a turnkey natural gas-fired combined heat and power plant in Poland. The Polish energy utility PGE GiEK S.A. will invest in the Gorzów plant, which will have an electric capacity of 138 MW and a thermal capacity of 90 MW. Thanks to the combined heat and power, the plant’s fuel efficiency rating will be 84%. Commissioning of the project is planned for early 2016, and the total order value for Siemens, including a long-term service agreement for the main components, is approximately €160 million. The Gorzów power plant will replace a coal-fired block at the same location. The combined cycle power plant with heat extraction will be able to generate electricity in a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way. In comparison to the coal-fired power plant, the new plant will produce 95% less sulfur dioxide emissions, over 30% less nitrogen dioxide emissions and over 95% less particulate emissions. (

Transmission / Distribution / Trade

Meghnaghat Power to start electricity supply in Bangladesh by month end

November 11, 2013. Bangladeshi conglomerate Summit Group is set to start supply of 220 MW of electricity from its dual-fuel combined cycle, Meghnaghat Power Company, to the national grid by the end of this month. The electricity supply represents around one-fifth of the existing electricity supply shortage in the country. The initial production from the 335 MW plant is scheduled to come from diesel, whereas the remaining 115 MW is expected to come in July 2014, with the completion of the combined cycle turbine. (

Newfoundland Power completes Bonavista Peninsula transmission line upgrade

November 6, 2013. Newfoundland Power has successfully completed a multi-million capital project designed to ensure supply of safe, reliable electricity service to its customers across the Bonavista Peninsula in Canada. Started in 2006, the $11 mn project involved complete rebuilding and upgrade of the Bonavista Peninsula's secondary transmission line. Executed in several phases, the multi-year project witnessed replacement of a total of 100km of transmission line to facilitate reliable electricity service to the nearly 10,000 customers. Located between the towns of Clarenville and Catalina, the new transmission line can serve as a backup to the primary line in the case of electricity system damage due to the severe weather. (

Policy / Performance

Iran agrees to give UN monitors broader inspection powers

November 11, 2013. Iran and United Nations atomic inspectors signed their first accord in six years, giving the monitors broader access to nuclear facilities in the Persian Gulf country. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran agreed “to implement practical measures” aiding inspections, and implementation will start within three months. That includes access to Iran’s largest uranium mine. The agreement allows inspectors greater access to a heavy-water facility at Arak. While the IAEA has visited Arak, inspectors have sought additional information on the design of the incomplete project to ensure plutonium cannot be extracted for nuclear weapons. (

Japan ready to build nuclear power plants in Iran

November 10, 2013. Japanese Foreign Ministry's Deputy Director General for Press and Public Diplomacy Koichi Mizushima has expressed his country’s readiness to cooperate with Iran to build nuclear power plants in the Islamic Republic. After the settlement of Iran’s nuclear issue, Japan will be ready to help Tehran to construct nuclear power plants if demanded by the Iranian side. (

Bhutan asks India to expedite development of more hydro power projects

November 6, 2013. Terming India as a 'partner', Bhutan said it should expedite the development of a few more hydro projects in the next couple of years and invited Indian companies to explore the possibility of investments. Sonam Kinga, chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan also said his country also expects Indian companies to come to Bhutan and also see India's interest in exploiting natural recources for their purposes. Asked about the recent stopping of subsidy given to Bhutan by India on LPG and Kerosene and then restoring it, Kinga said he and the Bhutanese people do not believe that India had decided to take away the subsidy. (

World Bank agrees to finance Helwan South Power Project in Egypt

November 6, 2013. The World Bank has signed an agreement with Egypt to finance the construction of Helwan South Power Project, which will facilitate more reliable supply of electricity across the country. The project will boost much needed public investments in the energy sector and support the Egyptian people during this period of political and economic transition. Approximately 4,000 jobs are expected to be created by the Helwan South Power Project, 75% during construction and the rest for plant operation and maintenance. The additional electricity generated by Helwan South will be distributed to grid-connected consumers in all sectors across Egypt, including agriculture. (



Govt to roll out 4 solar UMPPs; groundwork underway in Sambhar

November 11, 2013. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to set up four solar-based ultra mega power projects (UMPPs) to bring down the cost of power. They would come up at Sambhar in Rajasthan, Khargoda in Gujarat and Ladakh and Kargil in J&K, said joint secretary in the ministry Tarun Kapoor. The government has already commenced ground work on the first solar UMPP in Rajasthan, he said. A joint venture (JV) firm will be formed for this project. BHEL (26 per cent), Solar Energy Corporation (23 per cent), PowerGrid Corporation, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and Hindustan Salts (16 per cent each) and Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments (REIL) (3 per cent) will be the partners. The project, which is estimated to cost around ` 30,000 crore, or ` 7.5 crore per megawatt, will be developed in phases. Some quantity of solar cells and modules for this phase will be sourced from Bhel, which is planning to set up a facility in Maharashtra, Kapoor said. For the remaining 3,000 MW, the JV firm will issue tenders for 500 MW each, which will be given to developers for set up the units. (

Govt trims team for Warsaw climate meet

November 11, 2013. The Indian team for Warsaw climate negotiations was pared down by the Centre to 13 members, less than half that had negotiated on behalf of the country in 2012, limiting the human resources that would be available over the next two weeks to participate in dozens of parallel negotiations. The decision was taken, days after some of the team members had already spent four to five days as part of the preparatory informal talks. Last year India had sent 28 negotiators to the annual UN climate negotiations drawing them from various ministries for their respective expertise. The annual two week talks cover exhaustive range of topics, ranging from agriculture, finance, reduction of emissions, specific sectors such as refrigeration industry, energy efficiency in buildings and urban development. The talks on several days go on for more than 18 hours a day and have had a history of running through the nights towards the end till a conclusion is reached. (

ACME Group plans ` 90 bn investments in solar power space

November 10, 2013. Embarking on an ambitious business expansion, energy solutions provider ACME Group plans to invest as much as ` 9,000 crore to develop solar power projects in the coming years. The group, which already has significant presence in the telecom space, aims to set up solar power projects having total capacity of 1,000 MW in the country. At present, the group has about 18 Mw of installed solar generation capacity. Primarily focused on energy generation, management and conservation areas, ACME Group has presence in 16 overseas geographies including Singapore, Mauritius and Malaysia. The group's activities are spread across telecom, solar and defence segments, among others. Against the backdrop of rising energy demand, solar segment provides good opportunities for power generators. The government's Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), launched in 2010, aims to add 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2022. (

Green Energy Corp seeks 300 acre land for solar power plant

November 8, 2013. The Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd (Gedcol), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC), has asked the state government to provide 300 acre land in central Odisha for development of solar power plants. The newly-created corporation has asked the government to provide land in Kalahandi, Bolangir and Boudh districts, where the intensity of sun generated heat is higher. Apart from using government provided land, OHPC is also planning to use large amount of unused land available with it for generation of solar energy. As per a policy decision of Odisha government, target has been set at 80 MW solar power generation by 2014-15. At present, 13 MW is produced in the state by small solar power developers. The state government aims to generate additional 10 MW from its scheme to install roof-top solar power projects, conceived earlier this year. Renewable energy potential in Odisha has been assessed at 11,820 MW, with solar energy having the highest potential at 10,000 MW among all green energy sources. The potential for solar photo-voltaic source is pegged at 8,000 MW followed by solar thermal and wind power at 2,000 MW and 910 MW respectively. Potential for power generation from biomass paddy husk and bio-mass paddy straw has been assessed at 250 MW each. (

SECI seeks license for power trading from CERC

November 7, 2013. The Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) has applied for license for power trading with Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC). SECI managing director Rajendra Nimje said the PSU is authorised to sell power that will be produced under the proposed 750 MW solar power projects under Phase-II Batch-I, recently announced by the Government. Nimje was talking on the of a seminar on Solar Water Heating System organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in association with New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NREDCAP) Ltd and the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI). He said they have invited bid for the second phase of the 750MW Solar power projects and will have a pre-bid meeting on November 19. The proposed scheme for solar projects would be implemented through the Solar Energy Corporation of India in association with NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd. Electricity generated from these plants would be purchased by Solar Energy Corp at a fixed-level tariff of ` 5.45 per KWH for a period of 25 years. (


Boeing, RER to install underwater Montreal power turbines

November 12, 2013. Boeing Co., the world’s largest planemaker, is working with RER Hydro Ltd. to install underwater turbines in the St. Lawrence River near Montreal with capacity to produce about 9 megawatts of electricity. The companies plan to deploy 40 so-called hydrokinetic turbines that RER Hydro will build in Quebec. RER Hydro, based in Montreal, developed the technology and Boeing has exclusive rights to market it worldwide. This is the first commercial order for the systems, which the plane company said can produce power from rivers without requiring dams or other disruptions to marine life. (

Philippines plight takes center stage at UN climate talks

November 12, 2013. The plight of the Philippines took center stage as United Nations climate talks got under way in Warsaw while the Asian nation counted the cost of one of the most powerful cyclones ever recorded. Delegates from more than 190 nations at the meeting sat in silence for three minutes to commemorate the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The Red Cross estimates as many as 10,000 people may be dead in the Philippines as the storm, the worst recorded in almost a century, heads to Vietnam and China. The typhoon slammed into the city of Tacloban on Nov. 8 with winds of 196 miles (315 kilometers) an hour, and Yeb Sano, an envoy from the island nation. The diplomats are discussing how to limit fossil-fuel emissions that are blamed for damaging the climate, making storms more intense and boosting sea levels. Delegates are trying to craft by 2015 a global deal to cut emissions. Scientists warn that rising temperatures threaten to make tropical cyclones such as Haiyan more intense. (

Diesel, fuel cells get spotlight as plug-ins lose favor

November 11, 2013. With U.S. sales of plug-in electric vehicles on pace to reach half of President Barack Obama’s goal, regulators are following customers and automakers to vehicles powered by other fuels, from hydrogen to diesel. California, which leads 10 states that require automakers to sell zero-emission vehicles, may alter its system of tradable credits to stop favoring plug-ins over hydrogen-powered cars. That would hurt Tesla Motors Inc. while helping Honda Motor Co. Obama, who touted electric cars in his first State of the Union address and gave $5 billion in U.S. loans, grants and tax breaks to spur their development, hasn’t mentioned them in public since July. His administration halted loans for their development and reversed moves to de-emphasize fuel cells. Automakers that sell vehicles in the U.S. must double their vehicles’ average fuel economy by 2025 under rules Obama adopted. The target is considered impossible to achieve just by improving the gasoline engine. (

Global warming talks risk fizzling as rules snarl debate

November 11, 2013. The future of a global climate agreement may rely on a French minister wielding a gavel. That’s because the annual talks aimed at limiting temperature increases never agreed on voting rules. Every move requires consensus, and it’s up to the chair to decide what that means. Russia, Belarus and Ukraine blocked progress at interim talks in June, demanding a review of the rules. The matter will resurface in Warsaw when envoys from 195 nations convene for a two-week meeting. The fracas highlights a risk that the talks will fizzle between now and 2015, when Paris hosts a meeting aiming for a global deal limiting greenhouse gases, replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. An unraveling of the talks may undermine the $82 billion carbon market and signal fewer curbs on coal mined by the likes of Peabody Energy Corp. and Coal India Ltd. It could soften the push for clean energy projects that aid manufacturers from First Solar Inc. to Vestas Wind Systems A/S. (

Fukushima floating offshore wind turbine starts generating power

November 11, 2013. A development to harness the power of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began generating power on an operational basis. The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp., is a symbol of Japan’s ambition to commercialize the unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub. (

Rich nations failing to detail climate aid pledges

November 11, 2013. Poor nations have been left in the dark on how much finance wealthy ones will provide to help them adapt to the effects of climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the development charity Oxfam said. While rich countries have pledged a total of $16.3 billion of climate aid for 2013, murky accounting and a lack of transparency mean the actual amount offered is probably closer to $7.6 billion, Oxford, England-based Oxfam said. Climate aid is a linchpin of the discussions because developing countries say industrialized nations caused the bulk of global warming through two centuries of greenhouse gas emissions and must take the lead in fixing the problem. Envoys haven’t said how they will boost climate finance to the $100 billion a year they’ve promised in 2020. That’s 10 times the annual amount they had committed for 2010 through 2012. Oxfam discounted some funding pledges, which it said were redirected from overseas aid budgets and so should not count as “new and additional” money. Other aid comes in the form of loans that must be repaid, it said. A total of 24 developed nations have yet to say how much they’ll pay out in climate finance this year, according to Oxfam. The U.K., Germany, France and Finland are the only countries that Oxfam said provided enough information to make a robust estimates of their aid. Britain is the only country to have provided figures for 2015. France has provided enough detail to make an estimate, the charity said. (

ADNOC, Masdar ink JV deal for carbon capture project

November 10, 2013. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar signed a joint venture (JV) agreement to create the Middle East's first company focused on exploring and developing commercial-scale projects for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). The joint venture is 51 percent owned by ADNOC and 49 percent by Masdar. The first CCUS project will capture CO2 onsite at Emirates Steel, the UAE's largest steelmaker's facility. It will be compressed and transported along the 50 km pipeline to oil fields operated by ADNOC before ADNOC injects it into oil fields to enhance oil recovery.  The project will sequester up to 800,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Completion is slated for 2016. The UAE has traditionally used hydrocarbon gases in some of the Abu Dhabi fields to enhance oil production. However, with the nation's rise in its energy demand, this CCUS project will allow the UAE to preserve its natural gas for domestic electricity generation. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), up to 20 percent of global CO2 emissions will need to be mitigated by carbon, capture and storage projects in the power and industrial sectors by 2050. (

Abbott govt rethinks emissions reduction pledge

November 10, 2013. The Abbott government appears to be reconsidering its longstanding policy to reduce Australia's emissions by between 5% and 25% of 2000 levels by 2020 – a crucial and internationally-scrutinised goal which had retained bipartisan support since 2009, throughout Australia's tumultuous political debate over climate policy. The prime minister, Tony Abbott, and the environment minister, Greg Hunt, have regularly repeated the Coalition's commitment to increasing Australia's emissions reduction target under a specific set of conditions for global action set down in 2009 and accepted by both major parties. (

Forest misuse costs Indonesia $7 bn in revenue

November 10, 2013. Illegal logging and mismanagement of Indonesia’s forestry industry may have prevented more than $7 billion flowing to state coffers from 2007 to 2011, costing the government more than its health budget, Human Rights Watch said. In contrast, the Indonesian government’s 2011 revenue from timber royalties and reforestation fees was $300 million, said Emily Harwell, the lead author of a report released by Human Rights Watch. The report indicates weak governance is chipping away at revenues in the world’s fourth-most populous nation, as budget and current-account deficits this year hurt the rupiah. In 2011, revenue missed from forestry totaled more than $2 billion, exceeding the government’s health spending for that year, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in the report. The report calculated how much wood was used by industries such as pulp, furniture and saw mills, and compared it with the available legal supply of timber, Harwell said. Indonesia ranked 118 among 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2012 corruption perceptions index, undermining the investment appeal of Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Facing slowing growth, the government is trying to narrow budget and trade gaps by curbing state spending and easing restrictions on investment in some industries. Out of 20 central government institutions, the Ministry of Forestry was the only one scoring below the minimum standard for integrity in providing public services, according to a 2012 survey by the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK. (

Merkel’s coalition to slow wind-energy expansion to reduce costs

November 10, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third-term government will seek to slow the expansion of land and sea-based wind power to cut the cost of the country’s unprecedented switch from nuclear energy to renewable sources. Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc and the Social Democrats agreed in talks over the weekend to reduce the target for offshore wind turbines to 6.5 GW by the end of this decade, and to 15 GW by 2030, from 10 GW and 25 GW respectively. Negotiators also backed reducing aid for onshore turbines and forcing owners of most new clean-energy plants to sell power on the market. Merkel has been looking for ways to reduce the cost of adding renewable generators after deciding to close the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022. German consumers and companies finance clean-energy subsidies by paying a surcharge on their power bills. The fee will jump 18 percent on Jan. 1 and has more than quintupled since 2009. (

Canadian oil cos trail on environmental disclosure

November 9, 2013.Canada’s biggest energy companies including Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and Imperial Oil Ltd. are trailing global peers in reporting environmental performance as scrutiny of the oil sands intensifies. The 10 largest Canadian oil and natural gas producers by market value scored an average 31.7 out of 100 on environmental-performance disclosures in 2011, the last year with information for all companies. The Environmental Disclosure Scores weigh information such as emissions, spills and water use. The Canadian scores lag behind those of some of their largest U.S. and European competitors, including 54.6 for Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest energy company, 48.8 for Europe’s No. 1 oil producer Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and 62 for London-based BP Plc, which has taken a charge of $42.5 billion related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil-spill disaster. (

Ban urges cooperation to help Sahel tackle climate change

November 8, 2013. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the importance of preparing for extreme weather patterns in Burkina Faso, which as has much of the Sahel region, been impacted by climate change, and urged national leaders to work with the United Nations and the international community to obtain the necessary resources to mitigate and adapt to the impacts. Turning to the two other priorities for the UN and the international community to work on together, Ban stressed achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 deadline and defining the sustainable development goals which will follow. The UN Member States have identified 26 such challenges starting with climate change, water scarcity, agricultural problems, energy shortages, gender empowerment, education, urbanization, transportation, and nutrition issues. (

AustrianSolar to build $165 mn Chilean solar plant

November 8, 2013. AustrianSolar Chile Dos SpA, a Chilean renewable-energy developer, is filing for permits to develop a $165 million photovoltaic power plant in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Work on the 90 MW Photovoltaic Sun of Atacama project is expected to start in February 2015, the Santiago-based company said. The plant will feed energy into Chile’s central grid system. (

Utilities in pain selling renewable assets at record rate

November 6, 2013. Wind farms and solar parks are changing hands at record rates, signaling both an increased taste for the assets among pension funds and hard times for utilities that are the biggest sellers. About 43 percent of the 275 deals completed in the power industry in the first nine months were for renewable generators, up from 37 percent in the year-earlier period, according to data compiled by Ernst & Young LLP. The value of all the deals increased to $104 billion from $93 billion. Buyers from insurer Aviva Plc to Danish fund PFA Pension A/S are seeking yields averaging about 6 percent on wind and solar. Utilities such as France’s GDF Suez SA, Iberdrola SA of Spain and Dong Energy AS have unloaded plants to build cash cushions as power prices slumped and competition increased from independent generators. Highlighting their search for yield are at least five initial public offerings of renewables funds done this year, each promising returns that beat government bonds. The Renewables Infrastructure Group Ltd. began trading in July after raising 300 million pounds ($460 million) to pay a 6 percent yield from operating wind farms across Europe. Other examples are Bluefield Solar Income Fund Ltd., NRG Yield Inc., TransAlta Renewables and Threshold Power Trust. Pension funds and insurance companies including Aviva, AMP Ltd., and Hermes GPE are seizing the opportunity to tap assets that earn steady returns for decades that formerly would have been monopolized by the utilities. AMP Capital Investors Ltd., a New South Wales-based institution that specializes in real estate and infrastructure investments, has bought 104 MW of wind farms in the U.K. and Ireland and is looking to buy more assets. (

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