MonitorsPublished on Mar 26, 2018
Energy News Monitor | Volume XIV; Issue 41

Oil News Commentary: February – March 2018


Nearly 80 percent of Indian households now have access to clean cooking gas LPG a big jump from 56 percent three years ago, as state-run oil firms are enrolling new customers at a record pace to meet the target set by the government. These firms added as many as seven billion LPG customers between April 2015 and December 2017, expanding the active customer base by about 50 percent, an unheard-of rate in the past. The key driver of such expansion has been the government determination to wean all homes off hazardous traditional cooking fuel such as firewood and coal. State-run oil firms have worked on a war footing to induce demand for fresh connections through a mix of actively reaching out to potential customers, simplifying subscription process and using official subsidy scheme to tap poor households. The government had set a target for oil firms to enrol 30 million new customers in 2016-17, another 30 million in 2017-18 and four billion in 2018-19. Companies are close to achieving the targets for the first two years. About 22.7 million new customers were added between April and December 2017, with backward states of West Bengal (2.9 million), Bihar (2.636 million) and Uttar Pradesh (2.632 million) receiving maximum fresh connections. At the beginning of 2018, the cooking gas coverage reached 79.2 percent of the country’s households, with states in the south (94 percent) and north (89 percent) faring better than the national average while those in the west (73 percent), east (62 percent) and northeast (57 percent) averaging lower. Goa (137 percent), Delhi (126 percent) and Punjab (123 percent) are the top three states in terms of cooking gas coverage – the numbers being above 100 as they are based on the 2011 census data, since when the population has risen in these places as well as the rest of the country. Jharkhand (44 percent), Odisha (51.5 percent), Bihar (56 percent) and Chhattisgarh (57 percent) figure among states with the lowest coverage. With massive addition of customers in recent years, cooking gas penetration in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh has risen to 78.5 percent. One reason southern states have fared better is due to years of incentives by state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu to poor households for cooking gas subscription. A few other states too offer subsidy to new subscribers. About 11.7 million poor households have benefited from such subsidy schemes in different states. About 7 million connections to poor families have also been released in the past with support from the corporate social responsibility fund of state-run oil companies. Under the central government’s Ujjwala scheme, launched in May 2016, 32 million fresh connections have been issued to poor families till December 2017.

The Centre and the Congress-ruled Karnataka are engaged in a tussle over free LPG connections to the poor, with the state recently launching a scheme similar to the Narendra Modi government’s flagship PMUY. The state government move to introduce the MMAY comes months before the state is scheduled to go to the polls. The oil ministry has written four letters to the state government in the past two months, seeking clarifications and asking for a joint scheme, which the state has rejected. The Centre is of the view that such a scheme should not be routed through LPG dealers but oil marketing companies such as IOC, HPCL and BPCL for transferring the benefit.  The state has announced the scheme seeking to provide a free gas connection with a twin-burner stove and two annual refills each to 3 million beneficiaries with an expenditure of Rs 13.5 billion. This scheme will compete with the PMUY, which has been the high point of Modi’s election campaign in states since its launch in May 2016. Under the central scheme, the number of beneficiaries in Karnataka is 880,000. While the Centre is providing ₹ 1,600 each to a family under the PMUY, Karnataka’s MMAY allots ₹ 2,154 to distributors and ₹550 to beneficiaries for a second refill.

Confidence Futuristic Energtech, a subsidiary of Confidence Petroleum, would market composite LPG cylinders in Kolkata from next month, the company said. Confidence Petroleum, a listed entity, is a major supplier of steel gas cylinders to oil PSUs for LPG retailing. Confidence Futuristic, claimed that the composite cylinders, made of a special category of plastics, were blast-proof and light-weight unlike steel cylinders. Its parent company imports LPG from the Middle East for distribution in India from 58-odd bottling plants located in various parts of the country. The company has a bottling plant in Burdwan district in West Bengal. Chatterjee said the composite cylinders would be available in various sizes like two, five, 10 and 20 kg, except 14.2 kg, which only the PSUs can distribute. The company has already launched the product under the brand ‘GoGas Elite’ in Bangalore and Chennai.

The government is planning to take private Indian refiners as partners for the next phase of building strategic crude oil reserves. The project, estimated to cost ₹ 100 billion, is likely to be done on a public-private partnership mode. Private refiners Reliance Industries and Essar might join hands with the government to build and run these reserves. Cabinet clearance would be required to take private refiners as partners. Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd, that runs these underground caverns, has already received interest from some of these companies. India has oil stored in three underground rock caverns at Visakhapatnam (1.33 mt), Mangaluru (1.5 mt) and Padur (2.5 mt). The second phase is to come up at Chandikhol in Odisha and through an extension in Padur. One of the earlier locations was Bikaner in Rajasthan, but this was later shifted to Padur for strategic reasons. For private participation, the government would appoint a consultant soon. A bidding process would follow. At present, India has refining capacity of 247.6 mt expected to rise to 414.35 mt by 2025. This makes India the third largest petroleum consuming country, with 80 percent of its crude oil requirement being met through import.

India’s fuel demand rose 7.7 percent in February compared with the same month last year. Consumption of fuel, a proxy for oil demand, totalled 16.73 mt data from the PPAC of the oil ministry showed. Sales of gasoline, or petrol, were 9.4 percent higher from a year earlier at 2.08 mt. Cooking gas or LPG sales increased 7.9 percent to 1.95 mt while naphtha sales fell 10.7 percent to 0.96 mt. Sales of bitumen, used for making roads, were 10.7 percent up, while fuel oil use edged up 0.2 percent in February.

World’s largest oil company Saudi Aramco is interested in acquiring a stake in India’s proposed ₹1.8 trillion refinery in Maharashtra and ₹330 billion petrochemical complex in Andhra Pradesh,. Aramco is also interested in partnering in the second phase of strategic oil reserves India plans to build shortly. In Kakinada, HPCL and GAIL (India) Ltd are looking at building a 1.5 mt capacity petrochemical complex at the cost of ₹ 33000 billion. Pradhan said Saudi Arabia is India’s most reliable partner, supplying close to a fifth of country’s oil needs. Saudi Aramco, the Gulf nation’s flagship oil firm, sells 36.5 mt of oil annually to India. Saudi Aramco had also initially shown interest in IOC’s 15 mt Paradip refinery in Odisha but walked out of the project in 2006.

India state refiners expect their profit margins to hold their strength this year as demand growth accelerates for fuel products amid a record $93 billion spent on infrastructure and stable crude oil prices. India’s sales of cars and especially motorbikes are forecast to rise rapidly, even as the development of a Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor drives consumption of the country’s primary fuel products, diesel and gasoline. The infrastructure programme for fiscal 2018/19 calls for more than 80,000 kilometre in new highways to better connect rural areas with urban hubs. Roads and other construction require oil-based products such as tar and plastic piping, and fuel to move materials by truck and rail. India’s annual fuel demand, made up mainly of diesel and gasoline, is expected to grow 7.5 percent in 2018, according to a report by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch. That compares with 5.4 percent last year, according to government data. Refining margins also rely heavily on global crude oil prices, currently around $65 a barrel, and on the status of world inventories of refined products. Indian refiners hope global prices will remain sub-$70 per barrel as world oil production rises while new refining capacity doesn’t keep the pace. The IEA said it expects oil production to slightly outpace demand this year, especially thanks to still rising output in the US. HPCL expected international crude prices between $62-$68/bbl this year, as long as there are no geopolitical crises or technical disturbances like damage to the Forties pipeline. Based on that expectation, India’s refiners should see refining margins, also known as cracks, in the range of $7-$8/bbl for all three state-owned refiners. India aims to increase its refining capacity by 77 percent to about 8.8 million bpd by 2030, which will cost dozens of billions of dollars. IOC, HPCL and BPCL that sell most of their output locally at prices linked to global rates, largely reported strong profits and margins for the October-December quarter. While Indian gasoline and diesel prices are linked to global rates, during state or central elections private rivals say state-owned firms often do not increase retail selling rates – a risk to margins, analysts point out, only if crude prices suddenly spike.

IOC will invest ₹ 700 billion to raise its oil refining capacity by about a quarter by 2030 as it takes the lead to meet rising energy needs of the country. IOC will expand its refining capacity to 116.55 mtpa by 2030 from the current 80.7 mtpa with an investment of about ₹700 billion. India’s current refining capacity of 247.6 mtpa exceeds consumption but with demand growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 3.5-4 percent, it will need to add more capacity to meet the rising fuel needs. The oil ministry estimates fuel demand to rise to 335 mt by 2030 and has planned to raise the country’s refining capacity to 415 mtpa by 2020 from the current 247.6 mtpa. In 2040, the refining capacity is projected to rise to 439 mtpa. The investment planned by IOC also includes in upgradation of major units at existing refineries to help produce cleaner Euro-VI or BS-VI grade petrol and diesel by April 2020. Besides, IOC plans to raise the capacity of its Panipat refinery in Haryana to 25 mtpa from current 15 mtpa while Koyali refinery in Gujarat would be expanded to 18 mtpa from 13.7 mtpa. The recently-commissioned 15 mtpa Paradip refinery in Odisha will see a capacity addition of 5 mt while 3 mt will be added in IOC’s Barauni refinery in Bihar. A 1.2 mtpa capacity addition is planned for Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura refinery to take its capacity to 9.2 mtpa.

Indian imports of oil from Venezuela have fallen to their lowest levels in over half a decade, shipping and industry data showed, as a severe economic and political crisis hits crude output in the South American OPEC member. India’s oil imports from Venezuela averaged around 300,000 bpd between November, 2017 and February, 2018, a drop of about 20 percent from the same period a year earlier and the lowest such level since 2012, according to shipping and industry data. Venezuela’s oil production plunged to the lowest in decades last year, with the country racked by quadruple-digit inflation, a lack of hard currency and a crippling recession. The five-year average of Venezuelan crude oil to India is around 440,000 bpd, the shipping and industry data showed. India’s oil supplies continue to be dominated by Middle East members from the OPEC, with Iraq and Saudi Arabia prominent. Key for Venezuela’s drop-off in shipments to India are supply obligations to other countries which, amid its overall declining output, leave fewer cargoes available for sale elsewhere.

The government will now consult ONGC and OIL before taking away their discovered small fields for next round of auction to private players, in a bid to avoid row between state firms’ executives and the oil ministry officials as has happened in the past. The government auctioned 67 discovered small fields in the first round in 2016, and is preparing to launch the second round soon with 60 fields on offer. The selection of fields for the second round by the oil ministry officials invited complaints and criticism from senior ONGC executives who didn’t want some of their fields included in the auction since they already had prepared development plans for those. The differences of views between officials and company executives ran deep, resulting in verbal clashes, at times, between ONGC executives and officials of the DGH the oil ministry arm that prepared the list of fields for auction. The government now plans to have a panel comprising senior oil ministry officials, the chief of DGH, and chairmen of ONGC and OIL, to pick discovered small fields for the next rounds as and when they happen. The 67 fields offered in the first round of auction were discovered by ONGC and OIL but not developed for years. The government took these away from the state firms and auctioned them under a new policy that allows contractors the freedom to market natural gas and cuts out bureaucratic micromanagement by introducing revenue sharing between companies and the government. With new incentives in place, ONGC and OIL thought it attractive to bid for some of these fields but a government directive prevented them from placing any bid. But in the second round, ONGC and OIL will be able to participate as any other state or private firm. Some of the leftovers of the first round of small field auction, some relinquished fields from the previous auctions for major fields, and a few fresh fields from ONGC and OIL make up the 60 fields that would be offered in the second round of discovered small field auction. The ministers for finance and oil will together decide on the award of contract based on the recommendations of the Empowered Committee of Secretaries.

ONGC is set to hire international oil service giants for the first time to boost output from domestic oil fields in response to a government push to increase local supplies and cut expensive imports. ONGC, India’s biggest explorer, has shortlisted US oil service companies Halliburton, Schlumberger and GE subsidiary Baker Hughes to submit proposals on boosting production from two onshore fields. The three companies have until May to submit their proposals for what ONGC is calling a “production enhancement contract” for an oilfield in Assam and another in Gujarat. The government last September proposed selling a 60 percent stake in ONGC’s producing fields to foreign companies to ramp up domestic oil and gas output and meet the target of cutting oil imports 10 percent by 2022. India’s oil production has stalled below 1 million bpd in recent years, even as oil demand has surged. That has resulted in its crude oil imports soaring, making it the world’s third-biggest importer, behind China and the US. In January, India’s imports hit a record of almost 5 million bpd. ONGC, which the government hopes to eventually build into a global giant like Exxon Mobil or a state-owned oil major like PetroChina, has often been criticized by analysts and New Delhi for failing to increase its production. ONGC’s output – most of it from fields that have been operating for more than 30 years – is declining at the rate of 7 to 8 percent a year. A major part of the company’s capital expenditure is spent in efforts to pump more oil and gas to set off the yearly decline. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, ONGC’s standalone crude oil production stood at 20.855 mt (417,000 bpd), a one percent fall from the previous year.

Iran has offered to raise the freight discount on oil sales to India in return for New Delhi agreeing to boost imports, as the OPEC member is keen to eat into the market share of other producers including top rivals Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Iran is pushing to retain customers for its oil in Asia, hoping concessions will boost the appeal of its crude compared with other Middle Eastern suppliers, even as the threat looms of potential further US sanctions on the country. For 2017/18 Tehran had reduced the discount to 62 percent of the formula from 80 percent, but Iran has offered to change this if Indian refineries step up purchases. Iran said it expected Indian orders to grow. India had also sought a stake in Iran’s South Azadegan oil field. India recently offered a development plan worth about $6 billion for Farzad B and sought gas pricing of about $4/mmBtu to earn double-digit returns. Since local gas prices in Iran are about $2.1/mmBtu, India has asked for a stake in a producing oil field in Iran in addition to Farzad B to improve its average return on investment.

Rest of the World

Goldman Sachs re-issued its 2018 global oil demand growth forecast of 1.85 million bpd despite recent signs of a slight slowdown, citing a strong start to the year and a pattern of second-quarter demand acceleration. Goldman attributed the recent slide in oil prices to seasonality, saying data from the past decade suggested weakness in demand could now be witnessed during the first quarter of the year, whereas historically it occurred in the second quarter. While a slew of economic data releases came in below market expectations, and trade disputes and tariffs could dampen oil demand, the impact is likely to be gradual and could be offset by a weaker dollar, the bank said.

The global oil and gas industry needs to invest more than $20 trillion over the next 25 years to meet expected growth in demand and compensate for the natural decline in developed fields, Saudi Aramco said. The industry has already lost $1 trillion of investments since the oil price downturn from 2014 to 2016. Even with the growth of electric vehicles, increased demand from petrochemical markets over the next two decades will necessitate additional investment and need for crude oil. The company was confident that oil market fundamentals and future demand growth would be healthy, despite significant oil price volatility and forecasts of rising shale oil production.

The US will overtake Russia as the world’s biggest oil producer by 2019 at the latest, the IEA said, as the country’s shale oil boom continues to upend global markets. According to the IEA the US would overtake Russia as the biggest crude oil producer “definitely next year”, if not this year. US crude oil output rose above 10 million bpd late last year for the first time since the 1970s, overtaking top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. The US EIA said that US output would exceed 11 million bpd by late 2018. IEA said that US oil production is unlikely to peak before 2020, and that a decline is not expected in the next four to five years. The soaring US production is upending global oil markets, coming at a time when other major producers – including Russia and members of the Middle East-dominated OPEC have been withholding output to prop up prices. US oil is also increasingly being exported, including to the world’s biggest and fastest growing markets in Asia, eating away at OPEC and Russian market share.

The US government said it expects domestic crude production in 2018 to rise over 120,000 bpd more than previously expected as shale output surges. Shale production in the US has increased rapidly with improvements in drilling techniques, spurred on by a recovery in international oil prices. Production has grown more quickly than expected by the most authoritative forecasting bodies in the global energy industry, making the US a bigger oil producer than top OPEC supplier, Saudi Arabia. Monthly production shattered a 47-year output record in November, rising to 10.057 million bpd. The US EIA expects US crude output in the fourth quarter of 2018 to reach an average of 11.17 million bpd, up from the previous forecast a month ago of 11.04 million bpd. The EIA forecast US output would hit 11 million bpd a year earlier than it had previously expected. For 2019, the EIA forecast a crude production increase of 570,000 bpd to 11.27 million bpd. The EIA forecast a year-over-year increase of 1.26 million bpd to 10.59 million bpd in 2018.

The Trump administration said it would offer the largest oil and gas offshore auction in US history on March 21 for areas in federal waters off the Gulf Coast, less than a year after a similar sale yielded little corporate interest. The Interior Department said it would offer 77.3 million acres (31.3 mn hectares) offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for oil and gas development, an auction that includes all available unleased areas in the Gulf of Mexico. The blocks are from 3 to 231 miles (5 to 372 kilometre) offshore and in waters 9 to 11,115 feet (3 to 3,390 meters) deep. The department announced the auction in October, without an exact date. The sale is in support of President Donald Trump’s so-called America First Offshore Energy Strategy, which aims to reduce energy imports and boost jobs in the industry. But offshore drilling is expensive in a time of relatively low oil prices held in check partially by plentiful supplies of onshore petroleum, which is cheaper to produce. A lease sale in August last year got a tepid response from oil companies. The offer of 73 million acres received $121.14 million in high bids for 90 tracts covering 508,096 acres (205,619 hectares).

Saudi Aramco has agreed to supply China’s Huajin Chemical Industries Group Corp 12 million barrels of crude oil under an annual deal for 2018, up sharply from last year. This year’s supply to Huajin, a refinery and chemical complex controlled by Chinese defense conglomerate China North Industries Group Corp, compare to an estimated 6-8 million barrels last year. Russia beat Saudi Arabia to be the top oil supplier to China for the second year in a row in 2017. Robust demand from small, independent refineries boosted demand for Russian oil due to its smaller cargo size and proximity, while the Saudis banked on larger state refiners as key clients. In May last year, Aramco signed a preliminary agreement with Norinco to build a refining and petrochemical project in Panjin.

Rising US shale oil production will overwhelm the nation’s refining capacity, with three-quarters of the additional oil produced in the US by 2023 shipped to Europe and Asia, according to a new study by consultancy Wood Mackenzie. The research points to the continued impact of US shale on global markets and the mismatch between domestic refining capacity and rising crude output. The oil could bottleneck at US Gulf Coast ports unless new infrastructure is built, researchers said. US refineries will absorb between 900,000 bpd and 1 million bpd of the expected 4 million bpd of additional production to emerge from U.S. oil fields, Wood Mackenzie said in a study.

US gasoline consumption has levelled off as the stimulus provided by low and falling oil prices between 2014 and 2016 has faded, so refiners are increasingly turning to diesel and customers in emerging markets. US gasoline consumption is forecast to rise by just 40,000 bpd in 2018, after remaining essentially unchanged last year, according to the US EIA. The nationwide weighted-average retail price of gasoline was $2.67 per gallon in January, an increase of more than 60 cents per gallon compared with two years previously. If oil prices continue to climb through the remainder of 2018 and into 2019 as the price cycle matures, US gasoline consumption growth will likely slow even further. After two years in 2015/16 when the US motorists provided a significant boost to global oil demand, the main drivers of demand growth are rotating toward diesel and the emerging economies of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Developing economies accounted for most of the growth in oil consumption between 2004 and 2014 but were hit hard by the slump in commodity prices during 2015 and 2016. US refiners exported more than 1.1 billion barrels of finished petroleum products in the first 11 months of 2017, an increase of almost 12 percent compared with the same period in 2016.

Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has sued a group of oil trading companies through a US trust over a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme to buy petroleum products below market value, the lawyer representing the trust said. The lawsuit accuses a small Miami-based company called Helsinge Inc of obtaining inside information and rigging bid proceedings by bribing PDVSA officials in a scheme that yielded billions of dollars in illicit gains, according to the lawsuit. Helsinge also provided inside information to trading companies including Lukoil Petroleum Ltd, Colonial Oi1 Industries, Inc, Glencore Ltd, Vitol SA and Trafigura AG, which the lawsuit describes as “Oil Company Co-Conspirators” that also benefited.

Venezuela’s oil production is running 1.5 million bpd short of its historic output. OPEC last year discussed member Venezuela’s falling production and offered technical aid to help restore the South American country’s output. Venezuela’s oil production fell 13 percent in 2017 to a 28-year low of about 2.072 million bpd. OPEC believes Venezuela will be able to rebuild its production. The impact of US shale production on global crude markets was downplayed by OPEC noting that shale fields tend to have lower total oil recovery than conventional fields.

Iran’s crude and condensate exports are set to fall to a two-year low this month as loadings for its main Asian buyers will tumble by one-third from the previous month. Global buyers are scheduled to lift 1.94 million bpd of Iranian crude in March, down 21 percent from the previous month. That is the lowest since March 2016. Compared to a year ago, March liftings from Iran, the third-biggest producer among the OPEC will be down 26 percent. The decline is occurring despite its efforts to entice customers, including reducing official selling prices and offering to raise the freight discounts to India. Iranian exports in March are set to fall below year-ago levels for the third month in a row. That should help OPEC to tighten global supply, supporting slumping oil prices that have dropped recently on growing concerns about soaring output from the US. Iran, which has been working hard to regain market share after Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program were lifted in January 2016, aims to raise its crude output capacity by 700,000 bpd to 4.7 million bpd within the next four years.

China’s February crude oil imports fell sharply from January’s record as independent refineries curbed buying amid worries about new tax rules, while natural gas imports held at high levels to heat homes during a bitter winter. China’s February crude oil imports of 32.26 mt or 8.41 million bpd, were 12 percent below January’s record high of 9.57 million bpd, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. For the first two months of the year, China brought in 72.9 mt of crude oil, or 9.02 million bpd, compared with an average of 8.4 million bpd throughout 2017. China issued new tax rules in January that aimed to address a long-held complaint by China’s state-owned oil companies that privately owned refiners and blenders, known as teapots, have grabbed market share by undercutting their prices through tax avoidance.

OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, including Russia, will discuss extending their cooperation for many more years when they meet in June as they seek to avoid major market shocks. OPEC’s biggest producer Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC member Russia support extending energy cooperation beyond 2018. OPEC has agreed to extend oil supply cuts with Russia and other producers until the end of 2018. The global oil industry needs around $10 trillion of investment by 2040 to meet future demand growth.


Gains from low oil prices may not last long: Exim Bank

March 20, 2018. Low oil prices more than offset the negative impact of ballooning imports on India’s macro-economic indicators – trade and current account deficits as well as inflation – and helped the government manage its finances better by reducing fuel subsidies, according to an Exim Bank report. The bank said even though the country’s total import of crude and petroleum product rose to about 268 million tonnes (mt) in 2016-17 from 219 mt in 2013-14, the outgo fell from $165 billion to $87 billion due to the sharp decline in crude prices during this period. Similarly, low oil prices reduced fuel subsidy to Rs 29,999 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 85,378 crore in 2013-14. Had oil prices remained at the 2013-14 levels, fuel subsidy would have been around Rs 61,174 crore, the report said. Thus, the net impact of the slide in oil prices – which began in June 2014 and lasted through much of 2016 – have been positive on government finances. The report said trade deficit would have gone up by $82 billion in 2016-17 had oil prices remained at the 2013-14 levels. Before it is too late, India should move faster to alternate energy to oil.

Source: The Times of India

RIL, other private fuel retailers double market share in 3 yrs

March 19, 2018. Private fuel retailers like Rosneft-owned Essar Oil and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) have doubled their market share in last three years, capturing close to 7 percent of petrol sales and over 8 percent of diesel sales. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said private companies were allowed to sell petrol and diesel in March 2002. From April 2002, fuel pricing was also deregulated. Consequently, RIL, Essar and Shell set up petrol pumps to directly compete with public sector giants like Indian Oil Corp (IOC). In the initial years, private firms were aggressive in setting up of petrol pumps. However, they slowed down once government control over pricing came back in vogue in 2004-05, and they couldn’t compete with subsidised fuel sold by PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings). The government freed petrol price from its control in June 2010 and the same for diesel was done in October 2014, giving fillip to fuel retailing by private firms. He said private players had a market share of 3.5 percent in petrol sales and 3.1 percent in diesel in 2015-16. This rose to 5.3 percent in petrol and 6 percent in diesel in the following year. In 2017-18, private retailers commanded 6.8 percent market share in petrol sales and 8.2 percent in diesel, he said. Private retailers sold 5.18 million tonnes of diesel in 2017-18, up from 1.19 million tonnes in 2015-16, he said. Public sector oil marketing companies – IOC, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), saw diesel sales drop from 61.76 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 58.29 million tonnes in 2017-18. During this period, India’s fuel consumption grew by an average of 3-4 percent annually. He said, in petrol, PSU sales rose from 20.95 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 22.39 million tonnes in the following year before dropping to 21.99 million tonnes in 2017-18. Private retailers, on the other hand, saw petrol sales double – from 767,900 tonnes in 2015-16 to 1.59 million tonnes in 2017-18. India had 61,678 petrol pumps as of January. IOC operates the maximum 26,752 pumps, HPCL has 14,853 and BPCL 14,293 pumps. In the private sector, Essar had 4,275 petrol pumps while RIL had 1,400 retail outlets. Shell operates 100 petrol pumps. In 2016-17, India’s fuel consumption rose 5.4 percent to 194.6 million tonnes.

Source: Business Standard

OIL made significant contribution in Assam’s growth: Sonowal

March 19, 2018. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that Oil India Ltd (OIL) during the last 60 years has made a significant contribution to the growth of the state. OIL’s benefits have not been limited to its employees alone but it has immensely contributed to the growth of Assam, he said during the 60th anniversary celebration of OIL at South Bank oil well at Naharkatia in Dibrugarh district. The state government has signed a Rs 10,000 crore MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with OIL recently at the ‘Advantage Assam: Global Investors Summit’ which would give an added impetus to the state’s resurgent economy, he said.

Source: Business Standard

IOC’s 5 kg LPG cylinders go on sale

March 18, 2018. Customers will now be able to buy 5 kilogram (kg) free-trade LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinders from 20 select Indian Oil Corp (IOCL) petrol pumps, supermarkets and grocery stores in Pune city, just by submitting a proof of identity. The project is formally being launched on the occasion of Gudi Padwa. Refills will be available at IOCL petrol pumps, LPG distributors and point of sale (POS) outlets. Customers can walk into any of these outlets with the empty cylinder and get a refill immediately. A valid ID proof is the only requirement at the time of purchase, IOC said. The initiative will gradually be extended to other IOC petrol pumps, supermarkets and grocery stores in the city. The project aims to make cooking gas or LPG easily available to consumers by making it available in select point of sale outlets. The target consumers are students, caterers, migrant workers, women, hawkers or anyone who is new to the city and does not have an address proof. IOC is also in the process of tying up with supermarkets and select grocery stores, where eventually these cylinders are proposed to be sold. The total weight of the cylinder is about 8 kg, the LPG component being 5 kg. The company is also trying to publicize the initiative by advertisements on buses, and through digital media. The prices will vary monthly. For the month of March 2018, consumers can buy the IOC 5 kg cylinder at Rs 1,285. When the cylinder is empty, they can get a refill for Rs 341. While Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) has no plans start the sale of such cylinders in petrol pumps, HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd) said they too have launched a similar scheme at 15 select petrol pumps.

Source: The Times of India

India’s first home-delivery of diesel kicked off in Pune by IOC

March 16, 2018. In a first of its kind move in the country, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has started home-delivery of diesel in the city of Pune and intends to start pan-India soon. The Oil Marketing Company intends to start home-delivery of diesel in the beginning and may take a call later on home-delivery of petrol too. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had in April last year stated options for home-delivery of petrol and diesel on pre-booking are being explored by the government for the benefit of the consumers. ANB Fuels, under the brand MyPetrolPump, had launched first-of-its-kind home delivery of diesel in Bengaluru with three delivery vehicles in June. The company had to suspend its operation within four days of its launch due to a circular issued by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to oil companies directing it not to supply fuel to the start-up citing safety reasons. IOC Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Singh had said last August the company is more aggressive on diesel because it is safer to handle in such a mechanism.

Source: The Economic Times

BPCL to invest Rs 280 bn through 2020-21: Fitch Ratings

March 15, 2018. Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), India’s second-largest fuel retailer, is expected to have a stable financial profile over the medium term on the back of capital investments of around Rs 28,000 crore over the next four years, higher Gross Refinery Margins (GRMs) from Kochi refinery, growth in marketing volume and a comfortable liquidity position, US-based credit rating agency Fitch has said. BPCL completed the Rs 16,500 crore Integrated Refinery Expansion Project (IREP) at Kochi in October last year, ramping up the capacity of the unit to 15.5 million tonnes (mt) from the earlier 12.4 mt, becoming the largest public sector refinery in the country. That compares with 15 mt capacity each of IOC’s Paradip refinery in Odisha and Panipat refinery in Haryana.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s Oil Minister calls for responsible crude oil prices

March 14, 2018. India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has called for a global regime of responsible crude oil prices in line with the interests of major consuming nations like India. Speaking at the curtain raiser of the upcoming 16th International Energy Forum (IEF) event, the minister reiterated the country’s demand for responsible crude rates and expressed confidence in IEF’s ability to create a new roadmap to move towards such a pricing mechanism. While speaking at the curtain raiser, Pradhan also said India’s energy consumption will be the highest in the world and overtake China’s by 2040. BP had predicted in its latest Energy Outlook 2018 report India will overtake China as the largest growth market for energy by late 2020s with the country’s energy consumption growing by more than 4.2 percent per annum, the fastest among all the major economies of the world. Pradhan had in January said the country will use IEF as a platform to showcase India’s oil and gas reforms and investment scope in the ongoing Open Acreage Licensing Policy biddings and added the needs of consuming countries will take priority this year and removal of Asian premium will be one of the issues to be discussed.

Source: The Economic Times


India seen raising natural gas price to highest in 2 yrs

March 20, 2018. India is poised to lift its domestic natural gas price to the highest in at least two years, boosting earnings of producers like Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), according to a survey of analysts and industry participants. The federal government will increase the price to $3.2 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) for April to September, almost 11 percent more than the current price of $2.89, according to an average of 10 estimates. Higher gas prices may encourage producers to boost investment and production, helping the country meet its goals of cutting energy imports and more than doubling the share of gas in the energy mix. The increase will boost the earnings of India’s largest gas producer ONGC and Oil India Ltd, according to Gagan Dixit, an analyst at Elara Securities India Pvt. This will be the highest gas price since $3.82 for the six months ended March 2016. In October, India raised the domestic gas price for the first time in nearly three years to $2.89. The forecasts in the latest survey ranged from $3.05 to $3.30 per mmBtu. ONGC produced about 64 million cubic meters a day of natural gas in the first 10 months of the financial year that began in April, comprising about 72 percent of India’s total gas output. Companies producing gas from some deep-water fields with high pressure and high temperature areas are allowed a higher tariff of about $6.30 per mmBtu. That price is also due to be revised from April 1.

Source: Bloomberg

GAIL gets nod for pipeline to Guwahati: Oil Minister

March 19, 2018. PNGRB (Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board) has approved extension of state gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd’s ‘Urja Ganga’ pipeline up to Guwahati in Assam, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. GAIL is currently laying a 2,655 kilometre (km) pipeline from Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal and Bokaro in Jharkhand and Dhamra in Odisha at a cost of Rs 12,940 crore. He said the pipeline from Barauni in Bihar to Guwahati in Assam would be 672 km long and would be 24 inch in diameter. The pipeline would be executed in 36 months from the first notification of Right of User (RoU) acquisition.

Source: Business Standard

GAIL proposes 7 US LNG cargo swaps from Cove Point facility

March 16, 2018. GAIL (India) Ltd proposes swapping seven LNG (liquefied natural gas) cargoes across May-October 2018, according to the tender document and traders. The Indian importer has 20-year deals to buy 5.8 million tonnes per annum of US (United States) LNG in total, split between Dominion Energy’s Cove Point plant and Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass. With few tankers to ferry the fuel to India, GAIL has already struck swap deals for a chunk of its Sabine Pass volumes, and is extending that programme to cover Cove Point output. Under the swap, GAIL sells its share of output from US export plant Cove Point on a free-on-board basis in return for taking delivery of equal amounts of LNG to India’s Dahej/Hazira import terminal. GAIL offers a Cove Point cargo loading in May 5-15 and asks for corresponding delivery to India on May 1-10. GAIL offers Cove Point cargo on June 15-25, July 5-15 and August 1-10 but dates for corresponding deliveries to India are yet to be finalised. GAIL offers Cove Point cargo on September 1-10 with corresponding Indian import scheduled for September 1-15. GAIL offers Cove Point cargo on October 1-10 with corresponding Indian import on October 10-31.

Source: Reuters


India’s power plants are short of coal despite rising output

March 20, 2018. Stocks at Coal India Ltd (CIL)’s pit heads have risen from 20 million tonnes in November to 45 million tonnes, enough to run nearly a dozen 1,000 MW plants non-stop for a year at 85% capacity utilisation, but power stations remain starved of fuel. The latest available data from Central Electricity Authority (CEA) indicated that 25 plants had critical stock position while average stocks for 113 plants monitored by CEA was enough for only about 10 days.

Source: The Economic Times

CIL and NTPC plan JV for plants, private stressed assets

March 20, 2018. Coal India Ltd (CIL) is considering floating a joint venture (JV) with the country’s top power producer NTPC Ltd to set up plants at mines that do not have transportation access and acquiring private stressed assets. The two state-run companies have held talks and are in the process of finalising terms of the joint venture after which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is likely to be signed. The proposed JV will look at setting up power plants close to mines that do not have coal evacuation infrastructure. NTPC has in the last three months floated two tenders calling private developers and lenders to offer their stressed coal-based and hydro projects. The company is evaluating three projects — Jaiprakash Power Ventures 1320 MW, Nigrie power project in Madhya Pradesh, Jaiprakash Power Ventures 1980 MW Bara plant and the 1,200 MW power project at Angul in Odisha promoted by Jindal India Thermal Ltd. NTPC is also considering to be part of a proposed JV with Power Finance Corp and Rural Electrification Corp that proposes to bid for stressed assets that will go to bankruptcy courts.

Source: The Economic Times

Odisha: ECoR begins special drive to check coal theft, illegal activities

March 18, 2018. East Coast Railway (ECoR) has started a special drive to check coal theft from goods train running under its jurisdiction. It has alerted its workforce about the illegal activities and intensified frequent patrolling and deputation of staff in sensitive areas to tackle these menace. Braj Mohan Agrawal, divisional railway manager, Khurda Road division, said a lot of such incidents have been reported from Bhadrak-Dhamra Port private rail line under the control of Dhamra Port. The railway line from Dhamra Port to Ranital is owned and operated by Dhamara Port Corp Ltd and falls under the jurisdiction of Bhadrak district administration. Railway receives repeated public complaints regarding rampant theft of coal from coal loaded wagons during their run between Dhamara Port and Ranital station. A group of criminals have been committing theft of coal by utilizing local villagers at Cabin Junction near Ranital. The miscreants unload coal from the wagons of the running trains, ECoR said.

Source: The Times of India

CIL urges government to help recover dues

March 17, 2018. Dues of power plants to Coal India Ltd (CIL) increased to Rs 12,300 crore at the end of February from Rs 9,000 crore in May last year, prompting officials of the state-run monopoly miner to request the power ministry to intervene and help recover the amount. At a recent meeting with power ministry officials, CIL executives said that the miner’s priority was to more than double coal inventory levels at power plants to 30 million tonnes from the present level of 14 million tonnes but they requested that the ministry should impress upon power plants to clear the dues at the earliest. According to the minutes of the meeting, the dues had continued to rise even as it was earlier proposed that outstanding dues be cleared within 90 days. CIL said that the dues had been on the rise because power companies had not been receiving their dues and were in turn unable to settle the due of CIL. As per fuel supply agreements between CIL and power companies, coal is supplied on cash-and-carry basis. However, supplies to states and central generating companies are not regulated due to intermittent payment constraints. The ministry said at the meeting that efforts should be made by coal companies and railways to improve coal supply to the power stations so that power stations have sufficient coal stock to meet their requirement and build up their stock to the levels that there is no shortage of coal during the next monsoon season, between June and September 2018. CIL and the railways plan to jointly load 332 rakes a day till March-end. Of this, power sector would be getting 274 rakes per day – 220 rakes from CIL sidings, 25 rakes from private washeries and 29 rakes from goodsheds. The requirement of power companies for 2018-19 is estimated at 288 rakes per day. Of this 244 rakes would have to be from CIL sidings, 24 rakes from washeries and 20 rakes from goodsheds. The balance requirement of coal would be met from the Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (53 million tonnes), captive mines (37 million tonnes) and from e-auction (12 million tonnes).

Source: The Economic Times

Four miners injured in underground coal mine explosion

March 17, 2018. An explosion in an underground coal mine of Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL) in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district has injured four miners, the company said. The four men were drilling inside the mine while on duty last night when the drill machine came in contact with an explosive stored in the mine in Narka-Sayal area which led to the blast, CCL project officer P Nayar said. Officials of Directorate General of Mine Safety along with senior CCL officials visited the mine to review its safety measures, Nayar said.

Source: Business Standard

Auction of mines for coal sale to bring higher investment: Coal Minister

March 16, 2018. The government decision to auction coal mines for sale of dry-fuel in return will bring higher investment, create jobs and bring efficiency in the sector, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said. Enabling provisions have been made in the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 for allocation of mines by way of auction and allotment for sale of coal. The government approved the methodology for auction for coal mines/blocks for sale of coal under the provisions of the Coal Mines (Speical Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

Source: Business Standard

11 non-operational auctioned coal mines to start production from June

March 16, 2018. As many as 11 coal blocks, which were non-operational at the time of auction, are likely to start production from June this year. Among the 17 producing coal mines that were auctioned, 12 have started operations, according to Coal Minister Piyush Goyal. The government had auctioned 31 mines, including 17 schedule II (producing) and 14 schedule III (non-producing) through E-platform. He said out of the 14 mines under Schedule III agreements for development and production were cancelled with two mines in connection with a court order while in the case of one the pact was terminated for violating terms and condition of the tender. He said in respect of remaining five mines action has been taken under provisions of coal mine development and production agreement.

Source: Business Standard


Bihar power generation may reach 1.9 GW in 2018-19: Energy Minister

March 20, 2018. Bihar’s own power generation will reach up to 1990 MW by the end of 2018-19 from the current 720 MW of power generation, Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav said. Yadav announced that two units of 250 MW each of Barauni Thermal Power Station will start commercial generation from next month. Power generation of 1980 MW is expected to start from Stage I of Nabinagar Power Generating Company Pvt Ltd (NPGCL)- a 50:50 joint venture of the NTPC and Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Ltd – in 2018-19, Yadav said. Of the 1980 MW, the state is expected to get 1552.50 MW as its share from the plant. Due to various measures taken by the two distribution companies, North and South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd, the AT&C (Aggregate Technical and Commercial) loss has reduced to 36.75 percent by the end of third quarter of current fiscal from 46.33 percent in 2013-14, Yadav said.

Source: Business Standard

Sterlite Power acquires Rs 15 bn Goa-Tamnar

March 20, 2018. Sterlite Power said it has acquired the Rs 1,500 crore Goa-Tamnar Transmission Project. The project will deliver an incremental 400 kilovolt (kV) feed to Goa and scale up the transmission network for power evacuation from generation projects pooled at Raigarh (Chhattisgarh), Sterlite Power said. According to the Sterlite Power, with 15 power transmission projects including three in Brazil, Sterlite is poised to increase its current market share of 30 percent of the PPP (public private partnership) market. The Raigarh pool had been facing high-fault levels and this project aims at creating an alternative path of evacuation. The project will help address the quality of power transfer from generating stations connected to the Raigarh pool.

Source: Business Standard

In UP, private discoms to take charge of supply in 5 cities

March 18, 2018. The state government has decided to hand over the power distribution network of five cities, Lucknow, Varanasi, Meerut, Gorakhpur and Moradabad, to private companies. The Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd (UPPCL), which got the proposal approved by state cabinet, will now invite bids from private companies. UP Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma said that private companies will be responsible for maintenance, fault repairing and bill collection. He said that government would improve the power distribution network in rural areas. The decision was driven by government’s commitment to Centre’s ambitious 24×7 ‘Power For All’ scheme. The cabinet gave nod after taking up the case study of Agra where power distribution system was handed over to Gujarat-based company Torrent by Mayawati government in 2010. The cabinet also approved transfer of UPPCL employees to private franchisee on mutual consent and on not less than present salary. The power distribution privatization was planned by Akhilesh Yadav government in 2013 but was rolled back amid furious protests by employee unions. Employees in Varanasi staged a demonstration at Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd headquarters at Bhikharipur. Lucknow is headquarter of Madhyanchal distribution company (discom), Varanasi of Poorvanchal and Meerut of Paschimanchal distribution company. Kanpur, which has been in news for power theft, has been left out for now.

Source: The Economic Times

Base tariff unchanged but power cost rose 39 percent in Gujarat

March 18, 2018. Despite the base power tariff remaining largely unchanged, the cost of power to consumers of distribution companies affiliated with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) increased by 39% in the last decade thanks to the fuel surcharge increase. The actual power tariff paid by consumers in Gujarat has risen by 39% for residential customers with a monthly consumption of 200 units. The state has the highest tariff in the country after Maharashtra. The rise is mainly on account of the fuel price and power purchase adjustment (FPPPA) increasing from 61 paisa per unit in 2007 to Rs 1.71 per unit in 2017, K K Bajaj, a city-based energy expert, said. A power company is allowed to offset any increase or decrease in fuel (coal and gas) cost by way of the FPPPA, also known as the fuel surcharge. FPPPA charges are revised every three months based on power purchase cost and are approved by Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC). According to Bajaj, the effective power tariff for consumers of GUVNL, which supplies power to all of Gujarat except Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Surat, rose to Rs 6.65 per unit in December 2017 from Rs 4.80 per unit in 2007. Apart from the base tariff, final power tariff charged to consumers also includes electricity duty, FPPPA levy, fixed charges and meter rent.

Source: The Economic Times

Smart meters to rationalise electricity consumption in India

March 18, 2018. Come May, you can get smarter. You can operate your home appliances remotely by just installing a smart electricity meter. Soon, you would also be able to check which appliance is consuming more electricity and synchronise usage of power-hungry equipment, such as geysers, with off-peak hours, when pricing would be lower. The Internet of Things (IoT) solution would be made possible for the first time in India by Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), a joint venture of the Delhi government and Tata Power, which is set to install smart meters and also launch a mobile app for Android (to start with). In the first phase, 2.5 lakh smart meters would be installed in north and north-west Delhi. By 2025, 16 lakh smart meters would be operational. Consumers need not buy a smart appliance but can use their existing appliances and still automate their homes. With smart meters and the back-end infrastructure of a smart-grid network, even the distribution company would start behaving smartly. Power theft is a huge challenge in a country like India, where the aggregate technical and commercial losses are over 20%. Pilferage by tampering with meters and distribution lines has been plaguing the sector. But the smart grid would help tackle this. TPDDL, with Omron, has developed a tamper-proof sensor that can withstand high temperature and is water- and fire-proof. The sensor detects tampering, stores the information on the meter and communicates it to a central server. It also enables the distribution company (discom) to disconnect power supply remotely. Wireless power sensors detect hooking and other such tampering of distribution lines. This move would set the stage for Delhi to move towards the Smart City mission, a project the government has been pushing hard. Today, residential consumption accounts for 24% of electricity produced in India, of which 75% is used for lighting and cooling. By 2021, according to the World Bank, residential consumption would surge 260%.

Source: The Economic Times

Taking efforts to accelerate power projects: TN government

March 15, 2018. The Tamil Nadu (TN) government has taken steps to expedite the commissioning of various power projects in order to meet the growing demand, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said. The government has added 10,777 MW of power generation capacity since 2011 which made it possible to meet the peak demand of 15,343 MW in April 2016, he said while presenting the budget in the state assembly. He said the works are in progress for the 660 MW Ennore expansion project, 800 MW North Chennai Project Stage-III, two units of 800 MW each in Uppur project and two units of 660 MW each in Stage-I in Udangudi project. He said the state-government owned Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency would enter into an MoU with public sector Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. He said an amount of Rs 13,964.08 crore has been provided for the energy sector in the budget 2018-19, which includes Rs 7,537.78 crore as power subsidy for agriculture and other purposes.

Source: Business Standard


Suzlon retains top spot in India’s renewable energy sector

March 20, 2018. Volumes in India’s solar sector plunged by 70% during first nine months this fiscal owing to policy changes, but Suzlon has retained market leadership and is poised to bounce back as a vertically-integrated player, group chief executive JP Chalasani said. During the plunge in the market, the company worked on significant fixed cost reductions and now hopes to gain significantly once the market reaches 6 GW for executions next fiscal from a low of 1.5GW this fiscal, he said. On the improving volumes, he said, award of some 6 GW of bidding was slated for this fiscal to be executed during the next fiscal. He said that Suzlon was also coming up with improved technology products that will help power producers improve productivity and reduce the cost per kilowatt of power generated, helping them to cover up for falling tariffs. Though the pressure on margins will continue, Suzlon expects to significantly improve its top and bottomlines from the next fiscal, he said. Having started offering technologies such as wind-solar hybrid, Suzlon is currently working on technologies like windsolar-gas-based power hybrid, wind-solar-hydro-based power, he said.

Source: The Economic Times

Solar power to light up Salt Lake civic headquarters in Kolkata

March 20, 2018. Solar power will soon light up Poura Bhavan, the Bidhannagar Municipal Corp’s headquarters in Salt Lake. It will help the civic body to save several lakhs annually in the form of electricity bills. According to Salt Lake civic officials, the building has a large open space on the roof, which is ideal for installation of solar panels. Besides, there is space around the main building where the panels could be installed. The decision on where the panels will be set up is yet to be taken. Rough estimates show the civic authorities pay a montly electricity bill of around Rs 1.5 crore. Once all the sodium vapour lamps are replaced with LED (light emitting diode) lights, about 60% of the current bills will be reduced. A total of 351 old sodium vapour lamps were recently removed from the stretches of Broadway and Metro corridor near Karunamoyee and the civic authorities have decided that these old lamps will be equally distributed from ward 1 to ward 27 as a temporary arrangement.

Source: The Economic Times

India to meet solar capacity addition target of 10 GW

March 19, 2018. India is set to meet its target of adding 10,000 MW of solar capacity in 2017-18, almost twice that of the increase in 2016-17. The country had added 5,526 MW of solar capacity in the last fiscal, which was itself a record at the time. The total capacity at the end of 2016-17 was 12,288.8 MW, which means that 7,295 MW had been added till end-February and another 2,700 MW is expected to be commissioned in March. The capacity addition is expected to accelerate further in 2018-19. Solar tariffs reached a record low of Rs 2.44 per unit at an auction held by Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI) for 500 MW of projects at the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan in May 2017, which compares favourably with the cost of thermal power. India has declared an ambitious target of 100,000 MW of solar capacity by 2022, which MNRE officials are hopeful of reaching. Of the 7,295 MW added until end-February, the highest was by Karnataka, which commissioned a record 2,628.62 MW of projects in 11 months. For many years, Gujarat had the highest solar capacity, until it was overtaken by Rajasthan in 2015-16. Rajasthan, which also enjoys the highest solar radiation, was in turn overtaken by Andhra Pradesh in 2016-17, which added the highest capacity of 1,294.26 MW that year. In end March 2017, Andhra Pradesh had a total solar capacity of 1,867.23 MW against Rajasthan’s 1,814.28 MW. But with its spurt of activity in 2017-18, Karnataka is now the new No. 1in solar among Indian states, with a total capacity of 3,657.52 MW as of end-February. Telangana follows in second place, with a cumulative 3,282.67 MW of solar projects. Rajasthan is in third place, with 2,317.11 MW, and Andhra Pradesh in fourth with 2,170.32 MW. Gujarat has fallen to sixth place with 1,587 MW, behind Tamil Nadu at 1,822.57 MW.

Source: The Economic Times

BHEL commissions 1st unit of Kishanganga hydro project in J&K

March 19, 2018. State-run power equipment maker BHEL said it has commissioned first unit of 110 MW of the Kishanganga hydro-electric project (HEP) of NHPC in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Located on the river Kishanganga, a tributary of the Jhelum in Bandipora district, all the three units of the 340 MW project will generate 1,350 million units (MU) of clean electricity annually, BHEL said. The other two units are also in advanced stages of commissioning. The equipment was supplied from BHEL’s manufacturing units at Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur and Bengaluru while the execution of works on site was carried out by the company’s Power Sector Northern Region division and Transmission Business Group. In J&K, BHEL has so far commissioned 31 Hydro sets with a cumulative capacity of 1,257 MW. It is executing hydroelectric projects of more than 2,900 MW in the country and 2,940 MW in Bhutan which are at various stages of implementation.

Source: Business Standard

Suzlon wins two wind power projects in Gujarat

March 19, 2018. Renewable energy solution provider Suzlon Group said it has won two wind power projects of 300 MW and 200 MW. The Suzlon will install 238 units of S111 140m wind turbine generators (WTGs) with rated capacity of 2.1 MW each, Suzlon said. The projects will be located at Kutch district in Gujarat. Suzlon will execute both the projects on a turnkey basis and will also provide comprehensive operation and maintenance services. The S111 WTG is the latest addition to the 2.1 MW platform and features the time tested Doubly Fed Induction Generator (DFIG) technology.

Source: Business Standard

Trying to bring entire Maharashtra under solar power: Power Minister

March 19, 2018. Maharashtra Power Minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule told the Legislative Assembly that his department would try to bring the entire state under solar power. The Minister was speaking after the total demands of Rs 8,240 crore for power ministry were passed in the House. The Minister said the department was trying to bring the entire state under solar power.

Source: Business Standard

Bikramgarh Jheel to get Kolkata’s first floating solar power plant

March 17, 2018. The Kolkata Municipal Corp (KMC) and the state power department is planning to set up a 300 KW floating solar power plant on Bikramgarh Jheel, located behind South City Mall. This will be the first floating solar power plant in the city proper. According to an agreement, solar power to be produced from the project will be sold to CESC. The project will help to save around Rs 4.5 lakh electricity bill per month. Solar power expert Santi Pada Gon Chowdhuri, who heads the Arka Renewable Energy College, is providing technical assistance and designing the plant. According to Gon Chaudhuri, Bikramgarh Jheel used to cover an area of about 7-8 acres earlier but has now been reduced to almost half. The entire project, including beautification, will require about Rs 3 crore.

Source: The Economic Times

Mahindra Renewables announces financial closure for 250 MW MP solar project

March 17, 2018. Mahindra Renewables, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mahindra Susten Pvt Ltd, announced it has achieved financial closure for 250 MW solar power project in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh (MP). The project is expected to commence commercial operations by December 2018 and is part of the 750 MW Rewa solar park. Mahindra sourced the debt of the project to the extent of Rs 750 crore from Yes Bank and Rs 200 crores were raised from other financial institutions. The project is expected to generate over 525 million units of electricity and is envisaged to sell 78 percent of the power to Madhya Pradesh Electricity Distribution Utilities and the balance 22 percent to Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC). Mahindra Renewables had won 250 MW capacity at levelised tariff of Rs 3.3 per kilowatt hours (kWh). ACTIS PE-backed Solenergi and ACME Group were other winning bidders. Yes Bank has been a partner to Mahindra Group’s renewable energy venture since 2011 and has so far underwritten five solar projects for the group with a total capacity of 382 MW.

Source: The Economic Times

India tweaks $1 bn line of credit plan for solar power boost in Africa

March 17, 2018. India has announced specific solar energy projects in parts of Africa in consultation with local governments and is seeking to ensure effective implementation of its Line of Credit (LoC) of $1billion offered at a time when China is striving to emerge as a partner for much of the developing world. The initiative is part of the external affairs ministry’s efforts to finetune its earlier strategy of extending blanket LoC to African countries for implementing projects. The Modi government, at the International Solar Alliance meet in Delhi on March 11, extended the LoC specifically for 23 solar energy projects in 13 African countries. This was in contrast to the announcement by France, which made a blanket offer of 700 million euros (about $863 million) for solar projects. The countries where India will be executing solar energy projects include some of its emerging partners in French speaking Western Africa – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Togo, Guinea, besides Democratic Republic Congo in Central Africa and traditional partners Ghana and Nigeria. Some of these countries will house more than one solar project. Other countries where specific solar projects are being executed include Seychelles, Tanzania and Rwanda. The goal is to also produce solar panels in India for these projects at rates which at cheaper than those made in China.

Source: The Economic Times

Dry winter shrinks hydro power growth to 3.5 percent in India

March 16, 2018. Hydro power generation in India is all set to increase by 3.5 percent in the current financial year even as dry winter (63 percent below normal rainfall in January and February) has impacted generation in the last quarter. Scanty rains has decreased the overall hydro power generation by 15 percent in February as projects are affected in North, West and Eastern region by falling water levels in rivers. Lack of snowfall in North this year has already shrunk generation at country’s largest hydro power company, National Hydro Power Corp (NHPC) by half in the month of February and also affected projects in of other power companies in North, West and Eastern. The NHPC generation had grown by 3 percent till month of January in the current financial year compared to same duration in the last year. Despite dry winter spell hydro power generation has recorded a revival in generation this year after two-years of lean generation primarily due to less rain in monsoon. This financial year the overall hydro generation stood at 119 billion units till February compared to 114 billion units in same duration last year, an increase of 104 percent. The hydro power generation posted a marginal growth of under a percent in FY 17 after two-years of consecutive dip of 6 % in FY 16 and 4 % in FY 15 compared to respective corresponding period. The total hydro generation was recorded at 122 billion units in FY 17, a marginal increase of 0.8 percent over FY16. The generation had decreased by 6% in FY15.

Source: The Economic Times

Niti Aayog working on new transport policy: Vice Chairman

March 16, 2018. Niti Aayog is working on a comprehensive policy to ensure connected, shared, electrified mobility for the people, Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said. He was delivering the keynote address on the theme of “Future of mobility in India: Outlook and challenges” at the 15th Petro India Conference, organised by Observer Research Foundation and India Energy Forum. Kumar said Niti Aayog is well placed to come up with a reality-based transport model, with consultations with all the stake-holders. Meanwhile, Director of Observers Research Foundation (ORF) Kolkata, Ashok Dhar, said that India is a very complex transport market where there is a big gap between the supply and demand. Wondering whether electric vehicles (EVs) alone would be able to bridge the gap in India, Dhar suggested using technological advances in bio-fuel engines to lessen pollution. ORF Chairman Sunjoy Joshi said there are ‘many moving parts’ in this market and there is a need for everyone to come together and work together. He said that the pace and direction of transition of uncertain, making it more complex. Former Union Power Secretary, Anil Razdan also stressed the need for a clear policy regarding the EVs. Even, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) partner Girish Sirodkar said transition to EVs is indispensable and the government should come up with a clear, comprehensive policy in remove the uncertainty in the market. Maruti Suzuki Senior, Vice President Dr Tapan Sahoo also felt that focusing too much on EVs is not the right choice. He suggested that policy makers should prioritise on hybrids. Hero Electric global CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Sohinder Gill explained how the “confusion among policy-makers” is leading to “uncertainty” and destroying the EV industry and damaging the image of the country outside investors.

Source: Business Standard

India to take criminal action against errant solar power developers

March 15, 2018. India will penalize solar power developers who are using foreign equipment in power generation projects that were awarded on the basis that they would only use locally-made solar cells and modules. According to an office memorandum from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), these actions include filing of criminal case under 420 and related sections of the Indian Penal Code, blacklisting of the developer for 10 years, forfeiting of bank guarantee and disciplinary case against the concerned officers of the state-run firms and the state governments. These projects, awarded under the so-called domestic content requirement (DCR) route by state-owned firms, are required to use solar cells and panels made in India. Also, under the solar rooftop scheme, the government gives subsidy on the condition that the modules should be made in India wherein solar cells can be imported. This assumes significance as of India’s plan to add 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022, 40 GW is to come from rooftop projects. Solar modules or panels account for nearly 60% of a solar power project’s cost. For China’s solar panel manufacturing capacity, estimated to be around 70 GW per year, the major markets are the US, India and China itself. Seized of the issues, the Indian government also introduced stringent quality norms in August for solar equipment to be sold in the country and made the destruction of sub-standard equipment mandatory.

Source: Livemint

Phelan Energy in talks to acquire 200 MW of solar power projects in India

March 15, 2018. South Africa’s Phelan Energy Group, which has played a part in lowering India’s solar tariffs with its aggressive bids, is in talks to acquire 200 MW of projects. This is the first buyout in India planned by the Cape Town-based firm that bid Rs 2.62 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in May last year to win contracts to build a 50 MW unit at Bhadla in Rajasthan. The firm is also in partnership talks with investors for its first project in the country. With India’s wind and solar tariffs at a record low, it is the lower cost of foreign capital and the size of the Indian clean energy market that has helped India’s emerging green economy. There is growing overseas interest in India’s clean energy programme, with the government targeting 175 GW of clean energy capacity by 2022. India registered a record low solar tariff of Rs 2.44 per unit in May last year. While solar power tariffs rose to Rs 2.65 per kWh at an auction conducted by the Gujarat government in September, last December’s auctions conducted by state-run Solar Energy Corp. of India threw up winning bids of Rs 2.47 and Rs 2.48 per unit.

Source: Livemint

Centre to amend solar bid rule to allow import duty hike pass through

March 15, 2018. The Centre is set to amend the bidding rules to allow the pass through of duty hike in solar energy programme after the recommendation of 70 percent safeguard duty on solar cells. On being asked if the amendment in the bidding rules would need permission from Parliament, Power and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said it can be done by his approval. Singh said an inter-ministerial committee headed by commerce secretary will finalise the recommendation on the proposal of Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) in a week. The DGS in its preliminary report investigating the dumping of solar cells, has suggested a 70 percent safeguards duty on imports. Meanwhile, a Parliamentary panel has also questioned the proposed 70 percent safeguard duty on solar equipment saying there is no valid ground for it and would affect the viability of existing projects and dampen investor sentiment.

Source: Business Standard

Vardhan unveils solar jacket with phone charging feature

March 14, 2018. Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan unveiled a solar jacket with hi-tech features such as mobile phone charging, GPS and a solar fan. He said the jacket, an innovation of the Department of Science and Technology, can be used by defence personnel and officials working in remote areas. The solar jacket has facilities such as mobile phone charging, a GPS, a torch with a beam and a pocket solar fan. Displaying the solar jacket by wearing it himself, Vardhan highlighted the features of the solar jacket.

Source: Business Standard

IOC, Tata Motors to jointly develop hydrogen fuel cell technology

March 14, 2018. Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Tata Motors have started collaboration to jointly develop indigenous hydrogen fuel cell technology. IOC’s Director-Research & Development (R&D) S S V Ramakumar said both the companies have initiated test trials on the demo hydrogen fuel cell powered bus which was launched. A hydrogen fuel cell bus is an electric vehicle that uses compressed hydrogen to generate electricity which powers the drive motor for propulsion. The fuel cell generates electricity through an electro-chemical reaction, leaving only water and heat as by-products. The demo hydrogen fuelled bus launched has been developed by Tata Motors where the Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell was outsourced. R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and board members of IOC flagged of the hydrogen fuel bus, also marking the inauguration of IOC’s Fuel Cell laboratory at the company’s R&D facility at Faridabad in Haryana. According the Ramakumar, IOC’s recently inaugurated Fuel Cell Laboratory at Faridabad in Haryana is also working on developing PEM fuel cell used for transport application apart from Solid Oxide Fuel Cell which can be used for stationary assets including telecom towers. According to IOC, Tata Motors has requested the fuel retailer to collaborate on developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, providing hydrogen gas and production technology. Ramakumar informed IOC is already producing hydrogen gas and IOC’s R&D facility in Faridabad houses the country’s first hydrogen filling station.

Source: The Economic Times


Chinese diesel to be shipped to ‘west’ in VLCC

March 20, 2018. In a rare shipment, a diesel cargo will be loaded into a very large crude carrier (VLCC) from a refinery at China’s Tianjin port next month before heading to Europe or West Africa. The newly-built ‘Maran Aphrodite’, which can carry about 285,000 tonnes of diesel, has been chartered by oil major Total to load from Chinese state-run giant Sinopec’s refinery in the northern port to head “west”. This is the second time a VLCC will load with diesel from the Chinese refinery. The first cargo was shipped late last year as part of a plan by Unipec – the trading arm of Sinopec – to expand in Europe.

Source: Reuters

OPEC’s Barkindo hopes for oil market stability this year

March 19, 2018. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said he hoped a global deal to reduce oil production would help restore stability to global oil markets in the course of the year. Barkindo said that oil producing countries participating in the deal members are currently focused on extending the deal to December 2018. The OPEC and other large oil producers lead by Russia agreed last November to extend the deal to cut their combined oil output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of 2018. The next meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC oil ministers, including from Azerbaijan, is set for June where ministers may adjust the agreement based on market conditions. Barkindo said he will meet Azeri Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov to continue their dialogue on the role of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s oil production stood at 806,000 bpd in February, compared to 814,600 bpd in January.

Source: Reuters

US crude exports becoming bigger presence in global oil

March 18, 2018. Boosted by surging output, the United States (US) is becoming a significant exporter of crude oil, a shift that is remaking American infrastructure and altering the global petroleum market. Now pumping more than 10 million barrels per day, the US has become the second biggest oil producer in the world behind Russia and ahead of Saudi Arabia. The bounty is the result of the shale oil boom due to new drilling and production techniques. Eyeing this jump, the US at the end of 2015 scrapped its embargo on exports, a policy in place since the 1970s oil shocks. Energy companies have seized on the opening, exporting 1.1 million barrels per day to 37 countries in 2017.

Source: Arab News

Seven firms bid for majority stake in Zambian oil refinery

March 17, 2018. Seven firms have submitted bids to buy a majority stake in Zambia’s sole 24,000 barrel per day Indeni Petroleum Refinery. Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) procurement specialist Mwila Kapita said Glencore Energy UK Ltd, Vitol SA, China Petroleum Technology and Development Corporation and Philia Trading were among the firms that had submitted bids. The others are Joint Stock Company Global Security of Russia, Sahara Energy Resources Limited and a consortium of Beijing Huiersanji Green Chem Company Limited and AVIC International Holding. Zambia is looking for a strategic partner to work with Indeni Petroleum Refinery, built in 1973. The oil company is currently 100 percent owned by the state-controlled Industrial Development Corp Ltd.

Source: Reuters

Angolan deep offshore field starts oil production

March 16, 2018. Eni and Sonangol have commenced oil production from the Ochigufu project, located in Block 15/06 of Angola’s deep offshore. The field, which is located approximately 93 miles west from Soyo, will add 25,000 barrels to current production levels, according to Eni. Production start-up at Ochigufu was achieved one and a half years after the presentation of the plan of development. The project marks the first start-up for Eni and Angola in 2018. Eni has been present in Angola since 1980 through its subsidiary Eni Angola. The company’s equity production amounts to 150,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Source: Rigzone

Nigeria hopes to send oil bill to president by end-March

March 16, 2018. Nigeria hopes a long-delayed bill to overhaul parts of the country’s oil industry can be sent to President Muhammadu Buhari to be signed into law by the end of March, the head of a parliamentary petroleum committee said. The OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) member is Africa’s largest oil producer. Crude sales are the nation’s economic mainstay, making up two-thirds of government revenue, but the sector’s development has been held back for decades by mismanagement. The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) is the first part of a larger piece of legislation, known as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), to pass through parliament. The PIB, debated for over a decade, was broken up into sections to help it pass into law more easily. Nigeria’s lower house of parliament in January passed a version of the PIGB which was the same as one approved by the Senate last year – the first time both houses have approved the same version of the bill. It needs the president’s signature to become law. The PIGB would create four new entities whose powers would include the ability to conduct bid rounds, award exploration licences and make recommendations to the Oil Minister on upstream licences.

Source: Reuters

Vietnam oil firm sells 5 percent interest at offshore block to Murphy Oil

March 16, 2018. Vietnam’s PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corp., or PVEP, has signed an agreement to sell a 5 percent working interest in an oil block offshore Vietnam to US (United States)-based Murphy Oil Corp, the Vietnamese company said. Under the agreement, PVEP will jointly develop the 15-1/05 production-sharing contract in Cuu Long basin off southern Vietnam with Murphy Oil and South Korea’s SK Innovation Company, PVEP said. PVEP said it hoped the cooperation with Murphy Oil would help it develop small-sized oil fields in a more efficient manner amid low oil prices. Murphy Oil has already invested in other oil blocks offshore Vietnamese.

Source: Reuters

Angola’s growth outlook boosted by oil price, policy shifts: IMF

March 16, 2018. Angola’s economic growth prospects are on the rise as higher oil prices and sounder policies under President Joao Lourenco bring greater stability to Africa’s second biggest crude exporter, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. Angola’s economy is expected to expand by 2.25 percent this year from 1 percent in 2017 and growth should reach 5 percent in the medium-term, IMF said.

Source: Reuters

OPEC unlikely to change output deal this year: Iranian Oil Minister

March 15, 2018. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) was unlikely to change before the end of the year a deal among oil producers to reduce output. Members of OPEC and non-OPEC players including Russia have reduced their output since January 2017 under a pact aimed at supporting prices and reducing oversupply. The pact currently runs until the end of 2018. Iran is allowed to pump up to 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd) under the deal. Zanganeh said that OPEC when it meets in June could agree to begin easing current curbs in 2019. Zanganeh said that Iran wanted OPEC to work to keep oil prices at around $60 per barrel to contain US shale oil production, adding that Iran could produce about 100,000 bpd more.

Source: Reuters

Global oil demand picks up but still lags rising supply: IEA

March 15, 2018. Global oil demand is expected to pick up this year but supply is growing at a faster pace, leading to a rise in inventories in the first quarter of 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. The IEA raised its forecast for oil demand this year to 99.3 million barrels per day (bpd) from 97.8 million bpd in 2017. Commercial oil inventories in industrialized OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations rose in January for the first time in seven months to 2.871 billion barrels, 53 million barrels above their five-year average, the Paris-based IEA said. The IEA raised its estimate for demand for OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil to 32.4 million bpd for 2018 from last month’s forecast of 32.3 million bpd. It said growth in world trade had been strong, accelerating from 2.5 percent in 2016 to 4.7 percent in 2017, citing this as the likely reason behind a sturdy 1.8 percent rise in 2017 in global gasoil demand.

Source: Reuters

Iraq’s oil ministry calls for investors for Anbar refinery

March 15, 2018. Iraq’s oil ministry called on companies to invest in a project to build a 70,000 barrel per day oil refinery in the western province of Anbar. Potential investors have until June 14 to make proposals, the ministry said. The project is offered on a Build-Own-Operate or Build-Own-Transfer basis. The Anbar refinery, near the town of Hadditha, is part of a government plan to increase the nation’s oil processing capacity and reduce its oil products imports. Baghdad in recent months has announced plans to build four refineries and to refurbish oil and gas processing plants destroyed during fighting with Islamic State insurgents.

Source: Reuters

Oil firms must explore more off Norway to maintain output: Petoro

March 14, 2018. Oil companies must explore for more offshore oil and gas reserves if Norway is to maintain energy production at its current level, state-owned oil firm Petoro said. Petoro holds stakes in several oil and gas firms off Norway and represents the state’s interests in discussions with partners. Norway is forecast to produce 4 million barrels per day of oil equivalent this year, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said. The oil industry’s safety record should also be improved, Petoro said, despite improvements made last year.

Source: Reuters


Qatar selects Japan’s Chiyoda Corp for gas field’s design contract

March 19, 2018. Qatar Petroleum has chosen Japan’s Chiyoda Corp for front-end engineering and design of the onshore facilities of the North Field expansion. Qatar lifted a moratorium on gas development from the North Field, the world’s biggest natural gas field, in April last year. Qatar Petroleum said the facilities will produce an additional 23 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG, which will raise Qatar’s production from 77 to 100 mtpa.

Source: Reuters

Merkel looks to LNG to cut Germany’s dependence on Russian gas

March 19, 2018. Angela Merkel’s government is seeking to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in Germany basically from scratch to reduce the nation’s dependence on supplies arriving by pipeline from Russia and Norway. With gas reservoirs depleting from the United Kingdom (UK) to the Netherlands, Germany is becoming increasingly reliant on Russia for its energy needs at a time when political tensions are mounting with Vladimir Putin’s government in Moscow. That’s prompting Merkel to think again about LNG as an option, building terminals on the North Sea and Baltic Sea that could import the fuel and bypass facilities in the neighbouring Netherlands, Poland and Belgium. Her newly formed coalition has a “coalition contract” that among other policies sets out an energy agenda including LNG for the next four years. Gas consumption rose 5 percent last year, the AGEB industry group said. And since Germany currently has no terminal for importing the fuel in its liquid form and turning it into gas, those supplies arrived by pipeline. Russian gas made up more than 60 percent of Germany’s total imports for most of last year, according to data from Marex Spectron Group Ltd. Across Europe, LNG use is on the rise. Imports to the 28 member states increased an annualized 22 percent at the end of the third quarter, with nations such as the UK and Spain in the lead in developing import capacity. Still, most terminals in northwestern Europe are underused. Merkel also is allowing German companies to promote the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an expansion of an existing route for gas to flow from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea.

Source: Bloomberg

Iran has nearly doubled gas production at South Pars: Rouhani

March 18, 2018. Iran has nearly doubled gas production at South Pars, the world’s largest gas field, in the past year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. Gas production at South Pars increased from 285 million cubic meters to 555 million cubic meters in the past Iranian calendar year, which started in late March 2017, Rouhani said. Total signed a deal with Tehran last July to develop phase 11 of Iran’s South Pars field with an initial investment of $1 billion. Total will be the operator with a 50.1 percent stake, alongside Chinese state-owned oil and gas company CNPC with 30 percent and National Iranian Oil Co subsidiary Petropars with 19.9 percent.

Source: Reuters

Ten companies vie to supply pipes for Bulgaria-Greece gas pipeline

March 16, 2018. Ten companies have expressed an interest to bid in a €60 million ($74 million) tender to supply pipes for a 185 kilometre (115 miles) gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria, the Bulgarian energy ministry said. ICGB, a joint venture for the €240 million pipeline, will select up to five companies to file offers for the tender in April and hopes to pick a winner by the end of June, ICGB executive director Teodora Georgieva said. Companies from Turkey, India, Russia, Greece, Germany and Bulgaria, including Welspun Corp. and Salzgitter  have filed requests to participate. ICGB plans to open a tender for construction of the pipeline next month and have the gas link ready in 2020, when Bulgaria should start receiving 1 billion cubic meters of gas per year from the Shah Deniz 2 gas field in Azerbaijan. At present, Bulgaria meets over 95 percent of its gas needs with shipments from Russia’s Gazprom.

Source: Reuters

Bulgaria launches gas hub feasibility study

March 15, 2018. Bulgaria, which has ambitions to transform from a transit country for Russian gas to an energy trading centre, said it would start a feasibility study on creating a natural gas hub at the Black Sea port of Varna. Sofia’s plans for the hub are backed by the European Commission. They followed the cancellation in 2014 of Russian Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline project, which would have shipped Russian gas under the Black Sea via Bulgaria to central Europe. State gas company Bulgartransgaz signed a 2.3 million levs ($1.5 million) contract with a Bulgarian-Swiss consortium, AF-EMG Consult, to conduct the feasibility study and complete it by early July, the Bulgarian energy ministry said.  The cancellation of South Stream was a blow to Bulgaria, which relies almost exclusively on Russian gas, and Sofia hopes the Balkan gas hub project would keep Russian gas flowing through its territory on its way to central Europe. European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic reiterated Brussels’ support for the plan, which will help boost gas liquidity and energy security in the southeastern Europe. At present, Bulgaria transports about 12 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Turkey a year, but these shipments may stop in 2019 if Russia delivers on its plan to complete TurkStream pipeline. Bulgaria also hopes to attract Azeri natural gas, as well as LNG (liquefied natural gas) supplies from Greece, Qatar and elsewhere.

Source: Reuters


Zimbabwe’s coal output set to quadruple as investors arrive

March 15, 2018. Zimbabwe has attracted around $300 million in its coal industry that will quadruple production next year versus 2017, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said. Chitando said interest had focused on coal, as well as on lithium and platinum. He said London investors coal output in Zimbabwe would reach more than 8 million tonnes next year compared with around 2 million in 2017. He said that followed investment of around $300 million. The world’s biggest shipper of export quality coal Glencore says the best coal will generate profits for the foreseeable future because of a shortage of new supply following a collapse in investment during the 2015-16 commodity downturn.

Source: Reuters


French unions plan to disrupt electricity production

March 20, 2018. French workers plan to cut output at electricity generation sites as part of a nationwide strike by unions against planned government liberalisation reforms, hardline union CGT said. Power sector workers will join rail and public sector workers who will take to the streets to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned reform of the rail and French civil service. The CGT said the French power sector was under the threat of planned liberalisation reforms which could jeopardise French energy security. The union did not say by how much it planned to curb French power production. French electricity grid operator RTE forecast peak electricity demand at 78.2 GW, and 77 GW as temperatures fall by over 3 degrees Celsius below seasonal norm. France’s power grid operator RTE said that workers at Uniper’s French power generation sites plan to strike but it was uncertain whether it would have an impact on output.

Source: Reuters

Puerto Rico power utility hacked but customer data not at risk

March 20, 2018. Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power utility, PREPA, said it had been hacked over the weekend, but customer information was not compromised. The computer infrastructure of PREPA, as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is known, suffered a cyber attack, Executive Director Justo Gonzalez Torres said. PREPA’s customer service system was not affected and customer information was not at risk, the utility said, though the attack led to longer wait times at its service center.

Source: Reuters

Thousands of Australian homes without power after cyclone hits

March 18, 2018. About 25,000 homes were without power in Australia’s northern city of Darwin after a tropical cyclone felled trees, cancelled flights, closed schools and delayed shipping. Residents of the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory have been warned to boil their water as a precaution after Tropical Cyclone Marcus lashed the city with 130 kph (80 mph) winds.

Source: Reuters

Venezuela begins power rationing as drought causes severe outages

March 17, 2018. Venezuela imposed electricity rationing in six western states, as the crisis-hit country’s creaky power grid suffered from a drought that has reduced water levels in key reservoirs needed to run hydroelectric power generators. Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela’s power supply for years. In the worst-hit western cities, business has all but ground to a halt at a time when the OPEC nation of 30 million is already suffering hyperinflation and a profound recession. But because of the economic crisis, Venezuela has reduced electricity consumption to about 14,000 MW at peak hours, according to engineer and former electricity executive Miguel Lara. Two years ago, state-run Corpoelec put the figure at 16,000 MW.

Source: Reuters

China’s Southern Power buys stake in Chile’s Transelec

March 15, 2018. China’s Southern Power Grid received final approvals to purchase Brookfield Infrastructure’s stake in Chile’s largest electric transmission system, Transelec, the Chilean company said. Late last year, Canada’s Brookfield agreed to sell its 27.7 percent stake in Transelec to China Southern Power for $1.3 billion, but the deal required regulatory approvals to close. Transelec operates more than 6,213 miles (10,000 kilometre) of transmission lines in Chile, covering nearly 98 percent of the country’s population.

Source: Reuters


Construction begins on 700 MW concentrated solar power plant in Dubai

March 20, 2018. United Arab Emirates (UAE) Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has broken ground on the 700 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) phase 4 of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. Claimed to be the biggest of its kind in the world, the AED14.2 bn ($3.8 bn) phase 4 of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is being developed in phases. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is planned to generate 1,000 MW by 2020 and 5,000 MW by 2030. Additionally, the project is claimed to feature the world’s largest thermal energy storage capacity and provide clean energy to power over 270,000 residences while reducing 1.4 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Source: Energy Business Review

Sweden’s Vattenfall wins Dutch 700 MW offshore wind tender

March 19, 2018. Swedish utility Vattenfall has won the right to build a 700 MW subsidy-free wind farm in the Dutch part of the North Sea, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs said. The Netherlands’ government is among the first to offer a so-called zero subsidy tender for wind power, in which only bids that required no government support could compete for the two 350 MW slots known as Hollandse Kust I and II. Vattenfall beat Norway’s Statoil and Germany’s Innogy in the tender. Its Dutch subsidiary Nuon will build and operate the wind farm, with an expected completion by 2022. The Hollandse Kust was the third of five tenders being held by the Dutch in a push to create 3,500 MW of offshore wind power by 2023. The Hollandse Kust wind farm, to be located 22 kilometre (13.7 miles) off the coast, will help the Dutch reach a renewable energy target of 16 percent of their energy mix by 2023. The government plans to add a further 7,000 MW in offshore wind capacity between 2024 and 2030, as it seeks to turn around a track record as one of the most polluting countries in Europe. Solar, wind and biomass accounted for only 6 percent of all energy used in 2016, making the Netherlands the worst performer in the European Union apart from Malta and Luxembourg. The next tender for offshore wind power in the Netherlands will be held later this year for Hollandse Kust Wind Farm Sites III and IV.

Source: Reuters

British wind power generation hits record capacity

March 19, 2018. Wind power generation from Britain’s wind farms hit a record level of 14.2 GW on March 17, National Grid said. The record generation represented 34.2 percent of the total electricity generation in Britain at that time, National Grid said. The previous record, of 13.8 GW was set on March 1, when Britain was gripped by a cold snap, and National Grid issued its first gas deficit warning in eight years.

Source: Reuters

Total Eren targets Africa’s power-starved mining sector

March 19, 2018. Renewable energy company Total Eren said it had opened the world’s largest solar-thermal hybrid plant in Burkina Faso, the first of what it hopes will be many projects supplying the African mining industry’s growing need for power. Total Eren and Africa-focused independent power producer AEMP inaugurated Essakane Solar over the weekend, adding 15 MW of solar capacity to an existing 57 MW heavy fuel oil power plant at Toronto-listed IAMGOLD’s Essakane mine. Total Eren said the plan was to replicate this with other mining projects. The Essakane plant, made up of nearly 130,000 solar panels, is expected to decrease the mine’s fuel consumption by some 6 million liters per year and reduce CO2 emissions by around 18,500 tonnes per year.

Source: Reuters

NASA’s new instrument to help measure Sun’s incoming energy

March 19, 2018. To continue long-term measurements of the Sun’s incoming energy, NASA has powered on a new instrument installed on the International Space Station (ISS). The instrument, Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), became fully operational with all instruments collecting science data as of this March, NASA said.

Source: Business Standard

US nuclear power regulator urged to reject limits on cyber protections

March 17, 2018. A science advocacy group urged the United States (US) Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to reject a longstanding industry request to limit cyber-attack protections at nuclear plants, a day after the Trump administration publicly blamed Moscow for hacking into nuclear power and other energy infrastructure. The Nuclear Energy Institute industry group petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June 2014 to limit the scope of the agency’s cyber-protection safeguards to only systems with a direct impact on safety. The institute said in the petition that such limits would be “less burdensome” for operators of nuclear power plants while being “adequately protective” of public health and safety.

Source: Reuters

French utility EDF confident that lifespan of its reactors can be extended

March 15, 2018. French utility EDF is confident that nuclear safety regulator ASN will allow it to extend the lifespan of its nuclear reactors beyond 40 years, EDF said. Dominique Miniere, head of EDF’s French nuclear and thermal fleet, told a parliamentary committee hearing about nuclear safety that the company has been having discussions with the regulator on what safety aspects it should tackle if it wants to extend the lifespan of its reactors. ASN will rule on a potential lifespan extension of EDF’s nuclear reactors in 2020-21.

Source: Reuters

Big energy users oppose South Africa’s proposed carbon tax law

March 14, 2018. Big energy users including Sibanye-Stillwater and ArcelorMittal’s local unit opposed plans by South Africa to enact long-delayed carbon tax laws in 2019, arguing the levies are unaffordable and should be scrapped or delayed. The carbon tax has already been postponed at least three times since first being mooted in 2010, after mining companies, steel firms and state-owned power utility Eskom said it would erode profits and push up electricity prices. Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said that Africa’s most industrialised economy would implement the carbon tax from January next year – part of a raft of tax changes that include raising value added tax for the first time in 25 years in a bid to plug a revenue hole. The new law would affect about 1,000-1,500 companies and 75 percent of national emissions. It proposes a tax rate of 120 rand ($10) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent and states that total tax-free allowances during the first phase until 2022 can be as high as 95 percent. South Africa ratified the Paris climate change pact two years ago and has pledged to cut emissions by almost half by 2030, when they are seen peaking between 398 and 614 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Source: Reuters


Downstream Sector in India: Refinery Installed Capacity & Utilisation

Refinery 2017-18 (April – November)
Prorated Installed Capacity (‘000 Tonnes) % Utilisation
IOCL -PARADIP 10027 92.19



2005 94.44
BPCL- BORL-BINA 4011 110.04
TOTAL 156425 106.01
Source: Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas

Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

Editor: Akhilesh Sati

Content Development: Vinod Kumar Tomar

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