Energy News Monitor | Volume XIV; Issue 48

     Energy Monitor,ENM,May

    The largest wind farm of India in Muppandal, Tamil Nadu

    RURAL ELECTRIFICATION TO BOOST COAL DEMAND

    Coal News Commentary: April 2018

    India

    The CEA has revised the NEP after getting feedback from more than 30 state-owned and private institutions, mostly questioning the redundancy of coal. From retiring coal-based power completely, the CEA has said India would need 6,440 MW thermal power during 2017-22. In the earlier version of the NEP, which was out in 2017, the CEA had said the country did not need coal-based capacity addition till 2022. However, the CEA said coal-based power projects of 47,855 MW were likely to yield benefits during the period 2017-22. They are currently under different stages of construction. This translates into a likely capacity addition of 176,140 MW in the next five years, according to the plan. The total coal requirement in the year 2021-22 and 2026-27 has been estimated at 735 mt and 877 mt, respectively, including imported coal of 50 mt. The World Energy Council said the larger the renewable capacity addition, the larger will be the cycling stress on the coal-based power plants and the lower will be the power factor. The CEA also said the coal-based capacity of 22,716 MW is considered for retirement during 2017-22. Additionally, a coal-based capacity of 25,572 MW, has been considered for retirement during 2022-27, which will be completing 25 years of operation by March 2027.

    With an assessment suggesting the current trend may not warrant pursuing the projected coal output target of 1 bt by 2020, the government gave indication of revising the production target of the dry fuel. The government had earlier set a target of 1 bt of coal output by FY2019-20 for CIL. CIL accounts for over 80 percent of domestic coal production. However, the government had in December last year said that of 1.5 bt the country is expected to produce by 2022 and of this, 1 bt would come from CIL. The government plans to put out the list of available coal blocks in the public domain and then depending on the interest, the blocks can be auctioned. This idea comes at a time when there have been occasions where coal block auctions did not attract enough demand.

    Coal supply position for thermal power plants is expected to remain tight for about two years, after which new railway links will help ease the situation. Demand for coal is expected to outpace domestic supplies beyond 2020 keeping supply position tight, KPMG said. The government’s push for rural electrification is also expected to add to power demand that will exert supply pressure on coal. CIL said logistics was the key issue. CIL production target for FY18 was set at 630 mt, later reset to 600 mt and the company ended up producing 567 mt.

    Shortage of coal at Jindal Tamnar Thermal Station, Chhattisgarh, and Jhabua Thermal Station, Madhya Pradesh, has hit power supply in Kerala. Adding to the woes of KSEB, a technical snag at the Moozhiyar power house of its own Sabarigiri Hydel Station did its bit in snapping blackouts in various parts of the state. However, KSEB does not prefer to call it “load-shedding”. KSEB said that there is shortage of about 300 MW in the power brought through long-term PPAs because of the coal shortage. Meanwhile the technical issues at Moozhiyar power house are getting sorted out. Supply contracts, stretching comfortably to as far ahead as 2040, with Jindal Power (Chattisgarh), Balco (Chattisgarh), Jhabua Power Ltd (Madhya Pradesh), and Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd (Odisha) are its mainstay. This is why the coal availability in these thermal plants have been vital to lighting up Kerala in the South. In desperation, the Kerala government is even considering bidding for its share of coal block through the coal ministry, tying up with Jindal or Balco as the end user. While CIL maintains that there is no shortage of coal, early this month, Indian Captive Power Producers Association had been complaining against NTPC Ltd supply pact with Bangladesh that could use up the coal earmarked for Indian consumers. Out of the 40,000 MW generating capacity of Captive Power Producers in India, as much as 30,000 MW is produced out of coal.

    Ruling out any possibility of dry coal shortage in the upcoming monsoon season, the coal ministry said it has sufficient stocks to meet the demand of power plants. The ministry, however, stressed that it expects power plants to lift their requirement in time to avoid any shortage which was witnessed last year after the rainy season. The ministry hopes that the electricity producers which faced fuel problem last time would be careful this year and pile up adequate stocks. Power plants were hit by coal shortages in the second half of 2017 which affected power production in some states. The ministry said it is fully geared to meet the increased coal demand this time as it has adequate fuel. Moreover, the ministry has also charted out a plan on this year's production and supply. In October last year, the Karnataka government had asked the Centre to ensure adequate supply of coal and early allocation of a coal block in Odisha to meet the severe fuel shortage faced by power units. In the same month, Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam had said that power generation at thermal power stations had reduced by 2,700 MW due to shortage of coal, forcing it to resort to load shedding in the state.

    CIL has sought suggestions from stakeholders on issues related to the proposed new pricing policy for coal which will be linked strictly to quality. During the meeting, CIL had requested the participants from sectors like cement, steel and power for a detailed list of difficulties that they foresee in implementation of GCV-based billing system and suggestions for resolving the issues. CIL on April 1 said it is working out the modalities to raise coal sales bills on GCV basis and it will soon intimate the implementation date. In January this year, CIL had informed that sales bills will be raised on GCV basis with effect from April 1, 2018. At present prices are computed based on grade policy. The new mechanism will compute prices on every unit of GCV of coal, doing away with the grade policy at present.

    Based on comments received so far CIL has put in abeyance implementation of its new coal pricing methodology “till further advice” after customers pointed out that the new regime should be introduced only after the state-owned coal behemoth has the requisite supporting infrastructure. CIL met coal consumers to discuss the issue, in which the latter pointed out several problems such as slow processing speed of GCV measurement and uncertain tax implications. Some companies also questioned the absence of white paper before launching such a different pricing system. More than 70% of coal produced by CIL is consumed by the power sector. Power companies are also worried about the regulatory implications of the proposed step, as regulators take a long time to pass through the additional fuel costs into power tariffs.

    After the cancellation of coal mines auction twice, the government is exploring certain relaxations for bidders and plans to put on sale 19 blocks in the current quarter. The government had last year annulled the fifth round of auction on account of poor response from bidders. Of the 19 blocks to go under the hammer, 6 have been identified for the steel sector while the remaining 13 mines are for non-regulated sectors like cement, sponge iron and captive power, he said. In order to attract more bidders and make successful the next round of auctions the coal ministry is also looking at providing certain relaxations but subject to adequate transparency and competition. The fifth round of coal blocks auction was annulled last year in the absence of good response from the bidders as the steel industry was not in a good shape. In December 2015, the government had annulled the fourth round of coal mine auctions planned for January 2016 on account of tepid response from bidders in sectors such as steel besides depressed commodity prices and adverse market conditions.

    Meghalaya Chief Minister discussed the coal mining ban that has hit the northeastern state hard for the past four years. The National Green Tribunal had banned mining of coal in Meghalaya in 2014 after it received petitions on rampant violation of environment norms and utter disregard for safety measures by miners. The state cabinet had decided to pursue a resolution passed by the state Assembly to urge Centres intervention for resolving the ban on coal mining in the state.

    Odisha Chief Minister (asked the Centre to re-examine its decision to allot four coal mines to WCL, instead of MCL, which already operates several mines in the state. Operationalisation of coal mines requires close coordination with the local administration for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected families, he said. The WCL, which is headquartered at Nagpur in Maharashtra, may not be in a position to effectively tackle the issues, which are critical to the smooth operationalisation of coal mines. The MCL has achieved a record production of over 143 mt of coal during 2017-18 and with a more focussed approach towards rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected families, it can grow further in partnership with the local communities. In case MCL is unable to handle more coal mines in view of its existing commitments, CIL may consider to set up another subsidiary for Talcher Coalfield and the MCL may further scale up its operations in the Ib valley region.

    The government has assured CIL union leaders that the company would remain dominant even after private commercial mining begins, but workers have decided to go ahead with the April 16 strike. Union leaders, who held talks in Delhi, do not want private competition. INTUC, which had so far kept away, has also joined the strike called by CITU, BMS, HMS and AITUC. These five represent almost the entire workforce of the company.

    Power plants in eastern India received a major boost after SER started loading its first coal rake in Sardega, Odisha for transportation to the Kolaghat Thermal Power Plant in East Midnapore. Loading was completed and the rake is headed to the power plant with 3,953 tonnes of coal from the Basundhara Project of MCL. MCL signed a memorandum of understanding with SER to extend tracks 51 km beyond Jharsuguda to Sardega. The project worth ₹ 10.07 billion was completed in December 2017 and the entire cost was borne by MCL. The large yard at Jharsuguda will be put to good use by SER. Not only will this space help in transporting coal to eastern power plants but also western and southern ones from the Basundhara Project. The rake loaded will fetch ₹ 4,554,359. It is estimated that SER will be in a position to load a mt of coal from Sardega annually by 2020-21. The High Court of Bombay at Goa has suggested that MPT and Vedanta Ltd chalk out a solution to the imbroglio over unloading a vessel of coking coal at the port. Vedanta approached the high court after MPT informed it on April 2 that it was withdrawing its permission sated February 12, 2018, to dock its vessel alongside berth No 9. Based on the February 12 communication, Vedanta had ordered a ship to bring in coking coal from Australia. Vedanta, moved the court to allow the ship to berth, failing which they would have to pay high demurrage charges. When the matter came up, the court felt the two parties must find a solution between themselves.  Earlier this year, the state pollution control board refused MPT permission to use Mooring Dolphins for coal transfer from incoming ships. Subsequently, the port authorities decided to allow Vedanta to berth at berth no 9.

    The government said CIL has the potential to invest around ₹ 200 billion over the next five to seven years to own around 1,500 to 1,600 railway rakes. The government is also working towards expanding the rail network. CIL accounts for over 80 percent of domestic coal output. The PSU is eyeing 1 bt of coal output by FY2019-20.

    Rest of the World

    The price of seaborne thermal coal in Asia may come under pressure as China moves to impose some import restrictions on imports of the polluting fuel. Several ports in southern and eastern China have introduced controls on coal imports, ranging from bans on unloadings to tightening customs clearances. What does appear somewhat clearer is that the authorities in Beijing wish to restrict growth in coal imports in order to support domestic coal prices and encourage an increase in local production. While the authorities don’t officially target domestic coal prices, it’s widely believed in the industry that a range anchored around 550 yuan a tonne is a level that Beijing feels provides miners with sufficient revenue while not unduly boosting costs for power generators. It’s also currently a price level that makes domestic coal attractive versus seaborne supplies, especially once the duties and taxes on imported coal are taken into account. Imports of all types of coal rose 16.6 percent to 75.41 mt in the first three months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, according to China’s preliminary customs data.

    China’s imports of coking coal staged a strong comeback in March after a weak start to the year, and may be poised for further strength as steel output rises. Imports of coking coal, used to make steel, jumped to 4.02 mt in March, up 38 percent from the 2.91 mt recorded in February, according to customs data. However, the robust outcome in March went only some way to reversing the weaker trend so far this year. Imports for the first quarter as a whole totalled 12.05 mt a drop of 28 percent on the same period last year. In some ways the decline in first-quarter coking coal imports isn’t that surprising, given the winter restrictions placed on steel production as part of the authorities’ efforts to limit air pollution. China’s total coal production, including both thermal and coking grades, fell to the lowest in five months in March, totalling 290 mt. Coking coal prices in the first quarter certainly wouldn’t have been encouraging additional buying beyond what was absolutely necessary to sustain operations. Both of China’s largest providers of coking coal, Australia and Mongolia, have the capacity to supply more and competition between the two is somewhat limited, given they largely supply different steel-making regions.

    China’s coal imports rose in March from a year ago as utilities boosted their purchases to replenish inventories amid colder-than-usual winter weather that drew down fuel stockpiles. Coal imports last month climbed 20.9 percent from a year ago to 26.7 mt data released by the General Administration of Customs showed. That was up from 20.9 mt in February. For the first quarter, China imported 75.41 mt of coal, up 16.6 percent from the same period a year earlier.

    China’s coal imports are expected to fall this year because of increased output at home. Arrivals from abroad will be 250 mt down 8 percent from 271 mt in 2017. But shipments will drop because of greater domestic supplies and lower demand. Output is expected to rise 5 percent. Executives at utilities are worried that customs will increase inspections of low-quality coal imports, such as those from Indonesia, potentially inflating prices, hurting their access to raw materials and denting profits. Beijing has banned coal imports at some smaller ports in southern China starting this month in a move to boost domestic prices.

    The eastern Chinese province of Fujian has temporarily banned foreign coal imports into the small port of Luoyan from April 1, according to a government notice. The notice, issued by the city of Fuzhou in Fujian where the port is located, said the ban is aimed at curbing coal imports, but it did not give a reason. The ban may boost domestic thermal coal prices even as demand wanes following the end of the winter heating season, one of the busiest periods of the year for the nation’s coal-fired power plants. In December, China temporarily halted coal imports at some small ports by delaying customs clearance after the total import volume exceeded an unofficial government target.

    Virginia's Hampton Roads region continues to export the most amount of coal from the US through its ports. And the numbers continue to soar. The Virginian-Pilot said that the region's coal exports have jumped 16 percent this year compared to first-quarter 2017. The US Energy Department said in February that coal consumption has decreased domestically. But higher demand in Asia and Europe has led to greater coal production in the US and therefore more exports. Much of what moves through the Port of Virginia is coal from America's central Appalachia region. It's hauled in by train before being loaded on to ships. Between 2016 and 2017, coal exports out of Hampton Roads increased by nearly 60 percent.

    Indonesian coal miner Adaro Energy is targeting coking coal output of 1 mt this year, up from 740,000 tonnes in 2017. That excludes any increase in Adaro’s coking coal output that may come from its planned purchase of the Kestrel mine in Australia from Rio Tinto. Adaro unit AMC has 54 mt of metallurgical coal reserves at one of its seven mine concessions in East and Central Kalimantan provinces. AMC is now exploring its other concessions. Adaro acquired a 75 percent stake in the AMC mine concessions, then known as the IndoMet Coal project, from partner BHP Billiton for $120 million in October 2016, amid a slump in metallurgical coal prices. South African power utility Eskom, which is battling to recover from a financial and leadership crisis, said that it was facing coal shortages at seven power stations. Eskom supplies around 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity, predominantly by burning coal. The state-owned utility has been forced to introduce nationwide electricity cuts in the past decade, the latest in 2015, denting economic output. Eskom has asked the finance ministry for permission to procure more coal and is temporarily using diesel-fuelled turbines to meet electricity demand. Part of the reason for the coal shortages is that Tegeta Exploration and Resources has cut supplies to Eskom as it seeks insolvency protection.


    CEA: Central Electricity Authority, NEP: National Electricity Plan, MW: megawatt, mt: million tonnes, bt: billion tonnes, CIL: Coal India Ltd, FY: Financial Year, KSEB: Kerala State Electricity Board, PPAs: power purchase agreements, GCV: gross calorific value, WCL: Western Coalfields Ltd, MCL: Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd, SER: South Eastern Railway, MPT: Mormugao Port Trust, US: United States, AMC: Adaro MetCoal Companies


    NATIONAL: OIL

    India scraps plan to privatise oilfields following opposition from companies

    8 May. The government has shelved the plan to privatise several key ageing fields of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) following strong opposition from the state-run companies and consultations between the oil ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The two companies will now draw up their own proposals to boost output from the fields. The oil ministry drew up a detailed plan last year to sell up to 60% participating interest in 11 ageing fields of ONGC and four of OIL to private companies under the so called Production Enhancement Contract (PEC) aimed at raising output. The plan also included another 44 older fields of ONGC and OIL that could take on private technological partners under a process managed by the government. The government planned to privatise some of the ONGC and OIL fields. Soon after the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the technical arm of the oil ministry, began circulating its draft policy paper on oilfield privatisation, ONGC launched a strong protest, triggering a pause among policymakers and exchanges between the oil ministry and the PMO. ONGC had already launched a similar plan independently for two of its ageing fields in Gujarat and Assam. It’s seeking partnerships with oilfield service providers under a long-term contract in which private partners will get a predetermined fee for every unit of oil and gas produced. The government now wants ONGC to use these learnings to attract more private capital and capabilities to ageing fields. The oil ministry changed its mind on the proposed policy after consultations with the PMO, which had heard all sides and didn’t want to invite controversy over a privatisation move in the fifth year of its term.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Oil PSUs froze fuel prices to avoid consumer pain: IOC

    8 May. With oil PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) deciding not to hike petrol and diesel prices ahead of Karnataka elections, IOC Chairman Sanjiv Singh said the company has decided to "temporarily moderate" prices to avoid sharp spikes and panic among consumers. State-owned oil firms have since April 24 not changed petrol and diesel prices despite benchmark international product rates going up by nearly $3 per barrel. Separately, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the government has nothing to do with fuel pricing after it deregulated and gave PSUs freedom to fix retail rates. Singh however indicated that retail prices will rise if the current trend in international oil prices continues. Karnataka goes to polls on May 12. The freeze in fuel prices follows the finance ministry's refusal to cut excise duty to give relief to the common man after petrol hit a 55-month high of Rs 74.63 a litre and diesel touched a record high of Rs 65.93.

    Source: Business Standard

    HPCL begins home-delivery of diesel

    6 May. After Indian Oil Corp ((IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) has launched home-delivery of diesel in Mumbai and has plans to expand it to other parts of the country. IOC had in March launched home-delivery of diesel in Pune. Like IOC, HPCL too has mounted a diesel dispenser, similar to the one seen at petrol pumps, on a midsized truck along with a storage tank for delivering the fuel at customers doorsteps in Pune. Initially, the company is targeting 'static customers' like shopping malls and commercial establishments that use diesel in gensets for producing electricity, and transport companies with large diesel consumption. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had in April last year stated that the government was looking at options to home deliver petrol and diesel to cut queues at fuel stations and give consumers an option. But, for home delivery of fuel, a clearance from PESO (Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation) is required as both petrol and diesel are highly inflammable fuels and require adequate safety precautions. So far, PESO has given approval for doorstep delivery of diesel only on a trial basis. India currently has 61,983 petrol pumps with state-owned firms operating 90 percent of them. The country consumed 194.6 million tonnes of fuel in 2016-17, nearly 40 percent of which was diesel. Diesel consumption in 2016-17 was 76 million tonnes, while petrol was 23.8 million tonnes.

    Source: The Times of India

    80 lakh households in Odisha to be provided gas connections by December-end: Oil Minister

    5 May. The government has set a target of providing gas connections to 80 lakh households in Odisha by December-end, Oil Minister Dharmednra Pradhan said. LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) penetration in Odisha has already reached 58.55 percent till 1 May 2018 from 20 percent level in June 2014, Pradhan said. Pradhan said that 24.23 lakh connections have been released in the state under the Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojna. He said that, currently, four bottling plants are there in Odisha and three new bottling plants are being planned to be set up in Khorda, Bolangir and Rayagada districts. LPG Panchayats are being observed to promote learning through peer group interaction - Kuch Seekhein, Kuch Sikhayein, where apart from experience sharing, it also aims at safe and sustained usage of LPG.

    Source: Business Standard

    ONGC floats first tender to sell Brazil's Ostra crude

    4 May. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) floated a mini tender to sell Brazil’s heavy oil Ostra in June-November, a tender document showed. The tender will close on May 15 with bids remaining valid till May 17. ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas investment arm of ONGC, owns a 27 percent stake in BC-10 block in Brazil. Prior to tender, block operator Shell was marketing Ostra oil. The tender document said ONGC would sell its entire Ostra crude entitlement from the block over the period of the contract. ONGC has offered to sell 750,000 barrels for lifting in June, while for the remaining period it has not specified any quantity. BC-10’s current production is about 40,000 barrels per day.

    Source: Reuters

    Union Urban Development Minister distributes gas connections to BPL families in Amritsar

    3 May. Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri distributed free gas connections to nearly 123 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in Mudhal village. Puri said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had instructed all Members of Parliament to address problems faced by BPL families living in under-developed areas. Puri assured the residents that their problems with regard to development would be sorted out soon.

    Source: Business Standard

    ONGC shortlists Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker for boosting output at 2 oilfields

    3 May. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) will hire international oil service companies for the first time to raise output from mature oilfields. ONGC has shortlisted Schlumberger, Halliburton and GE subsidiary Baker Hughes for raising output from Kalol field in Gujarat and Geleki field in Assam, according to tender document floated by the company. Other oilfield service providers meeting pre-qualification criteria can also bid for the job by May 25, it said. The service providers will be paid a fee for raising output beyond an agreed baseline production. ONGC is looking to raise domestic output quickly to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi's target of cutting import dependence by 10 percent by 2022. India currently imports over 80 percent of its oil needs. Originally, ONGC had on December 7, 2016 signed a Summary of Understanding (SoU) to give Kalol field to Halliburton and Geleki field to Schlumberger for raising production above the current baseline output. Though the contracts were signed in presence of Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, ONGC rescinded them last year on fears of courting controversy for handing fields on nomination basis. Thereafter, the company in June 2017 floated an expression of interest (EoI) from service providers for undertaking production enhancement. The 15-year Production Enhancement Contract (PEC) will require the oilfield service producer to commit to investing in capital expenditure and operating expenditure to increase production from the existing 'baseline' output.

    Source: Business Standard


    NATIONAL: GAS

    India launches biggest CGD auction

    8 May. In a major step towards ushering in a clean gas-based economy, India launched its biggest auction of city gas distribution (CGD) networks, offering permits for selling compressed and piped natural gas (CNG and PNG) in 86 geographical areas. Awards from the 9th CGD licensing round would help bring gas coverage to 174 districts in 22 states and Union Territories, covering 29 percent of the country's area and 24 percent of the population, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. According to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), which organised a roadshow to promote the auction, the ninth bid round is expected to attract investment of Rs 70,000 crore. Cities for which CGD licences are on offer include Bhopal, Ahmednagar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Barmer, Alwar, Coimbatore, Salem, Allahabad, Amethi, Rai Bareli, Burdwan and Dehradun.

    Source: Business Standard

    ONGC clocks 6.3 percent rise in gas production

    7 May. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) registered 6.3 percent increase in natural gas production in 2017-18 and is on track to double the output by 2022. It produced 23.484 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in 2017-18 as against 22.088 bcm in 2016-17, he said. This is the highest gas output by ONGC in five years and the growth rate is higher than the global average of 3-4 percent year-on-year. ONGC has stepped up on bringing newer fields into production after Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a stiff target of reducing oil import dependence by 10 percent by 2022. India currently imports over 80 percent of its oil needs. The overall gas production, which includes production from the joint ventures, registered a growth of 5.8 percent at 24.610 bcm, as against 23.270 bcm in the previous year. During the last financial year, ONGC's offshore gas production stood at 17.845 bcm against 16.883 bcm produced in 2016-17. The onshore registered a production of 5639 bcm gas in the last fiscal year against the production of 5.205 in the previous fiscal. ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Shashi Shanker said the company has been aggressively pursuing the gas production growth in line with the government's drive for cleaner gas economy. He said the company has charted out a mission to double the gas production at 42.7 bcm by 2021-22. The total investment in the ONGC's ambitious gas projects stands at Rs 57,000 crores, which is one of the highest investments in the world as far as the gas projects are concerned. This investment includes the high potential KG-DWN-98/2 project which is being implemented on a fast track basis. First gas from the project is targeted for 2019. ONGC has drastically reduced gas flaring during the last fiscal, leading to considerable savings. The gas flaring stood at 1.92 percent in 2017-18, lowest since 1999-2000. This is only technical flaring and due to non-availability of customers like in the previous years.

    Source: Business Standard

    EWPL seeks tripling of KG gas transportation tariff

    7 May. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led East-West Pipeline Ltd (EWPL) has sought nearly tripling of the tariff it charges for transporting Krishna-Godavari (KG) gas from east coast to Gujarat. Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) floated a public consultation paper on EWPL, earlier known as Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd (RGTIL), seeking a rise in pipeline tariff from Rs 52.23 per million British thermal unit charged till 2017 to Rs 151.84 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) for 2018-19 to 2035-36. A rise in tariff would lead to increase in the price of electricity and fertiliser as well as city gas like CNG (compressed natural gas). The pipeline primarily transports KG-D6 gas, which has steadily dipped from 69.43 million metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd) achieved in March 2010 to just 4.3 mmscmd in January-March quarter. Originally, EWPL had proposed a levelised tariff of Rs 55.91 per mmBtu for transporting Reliance Industries’ eastern offshore KG-D6 gas from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Bharuch in Gujarat beginning April 1, 2009. However, the PNGRB fixed a provisional tariff at Rs 52.23 per mmBtu. The company on October 27 last year proposed a final tariff for the pipeline at Rs 78.72 effective from April 1, 2009, till the end of economic life of the pipeline — up to March 31, 2034. When PNGRB sought clarifications, EWPL updated the tariff filing to state that Rs 52.23 per mmBtu would be the tariff till 2017 and Rs 151.84 would be charged from 2018-19 to 2035-36, the regulator said in the notice.

    Source: The Financial Express


    NATIONAL: COAL

    MAHAGENCO’s coal block too in trouble

    7 May. The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MAHAGENCO)’s plan to put an end to coal shortage at its thermal power stations and problems of low quality and unwashed coal by developing its own coal mine in Chhattisgarh has received a major jolt. Pre-poll atmosphere in Chhattisgarh has stalled the development of Gare Palma sector-II captive coal project of the company situated in Raigarh district. MAHAGENCO said project was facing strong opposition from villagers and politicians of both opposition (Congress) and ruling party (BJP).  Elections in Chhattisgarh are slated for November and new government will take office in January 2019. The Central government had sanctioned the block having 1,059.29 million tonne reserves on March 31, 2015. MAHAGENCO’s target was to start production in December 2018. The government’s deadline to MAHAGENCO for starting coal production is December 2019. Both seem very difficult to achieve now. Another major problem is that 31 more villages are supposed to be rehabilitated for captive coal blocks of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The coal blocks of two states are adjacent to MAHAGENCO’s block. One of the reasons for strong opposition is need for rehabilitation of 45 villages, a big number. The project cannot come up in case strong opposition continues even after the elections. The block is crucial for MAHAGENCO and state’s power scenario. It was allotted for six new units including three at Koradi, two at Chandrapur and one at Parli. All units are commissioned and play an important role in state’s power scenario. At present, coal is being supplied by Coal India Ltd’s subsidiaries to new units on temporary allocation. MAHAGENCO said other process like identification and demarcation of project’s land, identification of land for rehabilitation of villages etc will be continued.

    Source: The Times of India

    CIL boosts supplies to power plants by 14 percent in April

    6 May. Coal India Ltd (CIL) revved up fuel supplies to power plants by 14.4 percent to 40.30 million tonnes in April compared to the same month last year ahead of the monsoon season. Coal supplies to the power sector from CIL in April 2017 were 35.20 million tonnes (mt). CIL has gradually improved coal stocks at power plants to around 16 mt as of April 30 from that of a little over 7 mt six months ago. The government earlier had ruled out any possibility of coal shortage in the upcoming monsoon season and asserted that it had sufficient stocks to meet the demand of power plants. Rake loading per day last month to the whole coal consuming sector grew by 10.4 percent as CIL loaded 245.7 rakes on an average compared to 222.6 rakes per day during April 2017. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier asked the Railways to increase coal loading to up to 500 rakes per day to meet increased power demand in summer. In January, the government decided on various steps, including the use of dedicated rail transportation and setting up of power projects only within 500 km from coal mines, to boost supplies to power plants. According to the latest Central Electricity Authority data, 32 power plants out of 114 plants with total generation capacity of 140,065 MW were facing fuel shortage as of May 1. Primary reasons were less allocation of coal by companies.

    Source: Business Standard

    Adani unable to provide viable coal off-take agreement for Carmichael

    4 May. Adani Power Ltd is unable to provide a viable or bankable coal off-take agreement for Adani Enterprises Ltd for the Carmichael proposal in Australia, a report by US (United States)-based institute IEEFA said. Its analysis came a day after Adani Power Ltd, a part of Adani Group, announced its financial results for the quarter and financial year ended on March 31. The US $317 million net loss would have been worse except that Adani Power Ltd turned off most of its imported coal-fired power plants for much of the last quarter, reneging on power supply contracts in the process, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said.

    Source: Business Standard

    West Bengal has sole operatorship of India's largest coal block: CM

    2 May. West Bengal Chief Minister (CM) Mamata Banerjee claimed to have got the Centre's clearance for the sole operatorship of India's largest coal block Deocha-Pachami in the state's Birbhum district. The CM claimed that she had got the clearance from the Union Coal Minister Piyush Goyal after holding discussions related to certain complications Bengal was facing regarding the coal block. The state government has a plan of Rs 12,000 crore to develop the huge coal block in the Deocha-Pachami belt. The state government has shown interest to develop the block that can produce coal worth more than Rs 2 lakh. Responding to the state government's proposal the Centre has already set up an intra-ministerial committee to explore the project. The block was originally offered jointly to West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and SJVNL. None, however, showed any interest in developing the block in the last three years or so, prompting Banerjee to seek sole operatorship. The Centre had responded to Banerjee's demand by setting up an inter-ministerial committee to examine her proposal. After two years of deliberations, the Centre has now agreed to allow Bengal to develop the mine.

    Source: Business Standard


    NATIONAL: POWER

    Tata Power output at 53,556 mn units in FY18

    7 May. Tata Power said it produced 53,556 million units of electricity in financial year 2017-18, registering an increase of 1.9 percent. The company generated 52,512 million units of power in 2016-17 from all its units, ranging from thermal to solar, Tata Power said. During the March quarter, Tata Power's generation stood at 14,255 million units. Tata Power, together with all its subsidiaries and jointly controlled entities, has an installed generation capacity of 10,757 MW (as of May 2018) as compared to 10,613 MW in 2016-17.

    Source: Business Standard

    Rajasthan discoms yet to deliver despite UDAY lifeline

    7 May. Saddled with a debt burden of Rs 80,500 crore, discoms (distribution companies) in Rajasthan were given a lifeline in 2016 under the UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme. But after two years, their performance on many parameters shows that the scheme is far from being a panacea for the beleaguered power sector even as it left the state finances in complete disarray, constraining its spending for developmental works. The latest data available till December 2017 shows that the discoms in the state are still struggling to achieve the mandated level operational efficiency in key parameters. The progress in reducing aggregate technical and commercial (AT&T) losses has fallen short by a huge margin. While the target was to bring down the AT&T losses to 18.42%, the reduction has been marginal, falling to 24.44% from 26.02% in the previous year. Similarly, the state discoms have failed to meet the improvement in reducing the aggregate cost of supply (ACS) and aggregate revenue realization (ARR) per unit of power. Against a target ratio of 0.2%, the gap is still 0.26% showing an anemic fall from 0.29% in the previous year. The performance on the profit & loss front is neither encouraging. Instead of reducing the losses to Rs 1055 crore, they still remain higher at Rs 1446 crore.

    Source: The Times of India

    HPSERC announces hike in power tariffs

    7 May. The Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission (HPSERC) has announced revised tariffs for domestic and commercial consumers. Though there has been an increase in the energy charge rates for domestic category of consumers, but the same has been kept same as last year after accounting for the subsidy provision made in the budget. There is average increase of 1.5% in tariff for non-domestic and non-commercial power supply, 1.5% for industries, 2.5% for commercial and 3% for domestic water pumping supply. The state government has made a provision of Rs 475 crore in the financial budget for 2018-19 for providing rollback subsidy to electricity consumers of domestic and agriculture categories during the year. Therefore, there is no effective increase in energy charges for domestic category and they will continue to pay the same energy charges as earlier. For agricultural consumers under the irrigation and drinking water pumping supply (IDWPS) category, the energy charges shall be Rs 0.75 per kilo watt hour (kWh) for consumer category up to 20 kW under single part tariff and Rs 0.75 per kVAh only for LT category under a two-part tariff. These revised energy charges on account of government subsidy would only be applicable to agricultural and allied activities and which are paid for by individuals/ user groups but shall not be applicable on government supply. The Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd (HPSEBL) had projected the annual revenue requirement of Rs 6,954.71 crore for financial year 2018-19, which includes true-up gap of Rs 365.47 crore for financial year 2016 (based on final audited account) and true-up gap of Rs 252.03 crore for financial year 2017 (based on provisional audited account). Total revenue income and expenditure approved for HPSEBL for 2018-19 are Rs 5,396 crore and Rs 5,389.26 crore, respectively. The commission has allowed Rs 41.92 crore against the demand of Rs 365.47 crore for true-up gap of financial year 2016 by the HPSEBL. The commission has not considered the true-up gap of Rs 252.03 crore for financial year 2017 as the same was not based on final audited accounts. It has also approved a provisional amount of Rs 200 crore towards arrears liability accruing on account of the Seventh Pay Commission against the total demand of Rs 672.18 crore made by the HPSEBL on this account. Considering the revenue from the existing tariff, a revenue gap of Rs 138 crore has been observed for financial year 2019. Therefore, it has approved an overall tariff increase to meet this gap.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Locals facing hardship due to power cut in storm-hit Rajasthan

    7 May. Days after a high-intensity storm in northwest and northeast regions of the country, the people of Rajasthan's Bharatpur district are still waiting for water supply and electricity to be restored. The fierce storm that hit Rajasthan caused major damage in many districts including Alwar and Bharatpur where trees fell and power cables snapped, plunging many localities and hundreds of villages into darkness. Though the power supply has been restored in 60 percent of the area of Bharatpur, many villages in the district is still reeling under water and electricity crisis.

    Source: Business Standard

    102 villages in Jammu region "un-electrified": Power Development Minister

    6 May. Over hundred villages in Jammu and Kashmir are "un-electrified", the state's Power Development Minister Sunil Kumar Sharma has said adding efforts were on to ensure power supply reaches them by the end of next month. A total of 102 villages in Jammu region remain un-electrified and all out efforts are on to cover these villages. We are hopeful of electrifying these villages by June 30 this year, Sharma said. He said the work to electrify these villages was on at war footing as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it his priority to provide electricity to each and every household in the country. To meet the deadline, he said the department had deployed the Indian Air Force (IAF) to reach inaccessible areas. The Chenab river alone has a potential to generate 22000 MW of power, he said.

    Source: Business Standard

    NTPC targets 268 billion units in FY19

    4 May. NTPC Ltd has said that it aims to generate 268 billion units of electricity during the financial year 2018-2019. Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NTPC and Ministry of Power, revenue from operations is targeted at ₹ 85,500 crore. The company said that parameters related to financial performance, improvement in operational efficiency, capital expenditure, projects monitoring, technology upgradation and HR Management were also part of the MoU. The company has a total installed capacity of 53,651 MW from its 21 coal based, 7 gas based, 11 solar PV, 1 hydro, 1 small hydro, 1 wind and 9 subsidiaries or joint venture power stations. NTPC is currently building an additional capacity of over 21,000 MW across the country.

    Source: The Hindu Business Line

    Power Minister lays foundation of underground cabling project in Kumbh area of Haridwar

    4 May. Power Minister R K Singh laid foundation stone of underground cabling project in the Kumbh area of Haridwar. The project is very significant as Haridwar is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India and a large number of devotees visit this holy city round the year, the power ministry said. Underground cables have several advantages like reduced losses, low chances of developing faults and low maintenance costs whereas overhead lines are vulnerable to lightning strikes which may lead to interruption. Singh said that millions of devotees come to Haridwar during Kumbh and this project will ensure the safety of pilgrims and enhance the aesthetics of the divine city. The project will benefit citizens of Uttarakhand by way of reduced electricity losses. Roads will also become wider once overhead electric poles are removed. This project will be implemented in Haridwar under the government's flagship scheme Integrated Power Development Scheme' (IPDS), he said.

    Source: Business Standard

    PGCIL to invest Rs 250 bn in the current fiscal

    4 May. Power Grid Corp of India Ltd (PGCIL), India's largest power transmission utility, will invest Rs 25,000 crore across various projects in the current financial year ending March 2019. The firm has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the power ministry dealing targets that also include parameters related to human resources, project management, R&D and innovation and efficiency. The MoU was signed by Power Secretary A K Bhalla and Power Grid Chairman I S Jha. The company currently owns and operates over 148,800 circuit kilometer of transmission lines, 236 Extra High Voltage (EHV) sub-stations with transformation capacity of more than 322,000 Milli Volt Ampere (MVA). Availability of this transmission network has been maintained at over 99.5 percent, the company said.

    Source: The Economic Times

    Modi government adopted 'Saubhagya' scheme from Bihar model of providing free electricity: Bihar CM

    4 May. All 39,073 villages and 1,06,249 ‘tolas’ (sub-unit in villages) of Bihar are now electrified. Bihar Chief Minister (CM) Nitish Kumar said all 26 lakh households in Bihar would be provided free electricity connection by end of coming December. Lauding the energy department for achieving the target of electrifying all ‘tolas’ ahead of the stipulated deadline, CM said that the centre adopted ‘Saubhagya’ scheme from Bihar model of “Har Ghar Bijali Lagataar’, a major component of the state government’s ‘Saat Nischay’ (seven resolves) programme which promises free electricity connection to each households across the state. CM had launched the Bihar model of free electricity connection programme at an event on November 15, 2016. The Saubhagya scheme was launched by PM Narendra Modi on September 25, 2017, more than 10 months after Nitish launched ‘Har Ghar Bijali Lagataar’ scheme. While the centre’s Saubhagya scheme promises to provide free electricity connection to over 4 crore households by December 2018, Bihar government’s ‘Har Ghar Bijali Lagataar’ has resolved to provide free electricity connection to all 26 lakh households of the state by the same period. CM laid foundation stones and inaugurated different power schemes worth over Rs 3650.83 crore on this occasion.

    Source: Business Standard

    UP cabinet overturns SP government order on Karchana power plant

    2 May. The UP (Uttar Pradesh) cabinet overturned the SP (Samajwadi Party) government decision to construct the Karchana power plant in Allahabad by the state government. The cabinet instead decided that the project will be developed through competitive bidding. The 1,320 MW power project was to be developed by the state-owned UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam. State Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma said Karchana power plant was getting delayed due to high cost. According to the detailed project report of the state government, the project is expected to cost around Rs 10,500 crore. The cabinet also decided to get the transmission substations constructed for Jawaharpur and Obra power plants through a tariff based competitive bidding. The state government plans to construct a 400 kilovolt transmission substation each in Badaun and Firozabad for evacuation of power from Jawaharpur power project.

    Source: The Times of India


    NATIONAL: NON-FOSSIL FUELS/ CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS

    Solar leads India's electricity generation transition: IEEFA

    8 May. India installed a record 10 GW of solar electricity capacity in 2017-2018, twice the rate logged in the previous year and nearly double the country's entire solar base, the United States (US)-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said. The gains put India at 22 GW of total cumulative capacity and the trend is continuing. A number of announcements in this April show momentum building. Solar technology continues to advance, with floating solar, hybrid wind-solar-battery and blended solar-thermal tariff developments now underway, an IEEFA analysis said. Renewables now account for 20 percent of total installed capacity in India and 7.7 percent of electricity generation. While the surge in new renewable generation has increased concerns about grid constraints, the right level of ongoing investment will make those issues manageable even as renewable energy installs double to more than 20 GW annually by 2020, the IEEFA said. Tying new solar tenders to domestic manufacturing investment aligns both strategies, with the likely outcome that the world's leading solar module manufacturers will set up operations in India, bringing employment opportunities and, more important, world-leading solar technology at scale, the analysis said.

    Source: Business Standard

    Himachal Pradesh approves amendments in hydropower policy to promote investment

    8 May. The Himachal Pradesh government approved amendments in the hydropower policy with a view to reviving 737 stalled projects of 5,500 MW capacity and attracting investors for new projects. The state cabinet in its meeting decided to make it mandatory for State Electricity Board to purchase power produced by hydro projects with capacity up to 10 MW gave approval to the proposal that the generic tariff applicable in case of Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) up to 25 MW will be from the date of the commissioning and not from the date of implementation agreement. The state cabinet decided to rationalise royalty rates for allotment of new projects and keeping in view the provisions of national hydropower policy and bordering hilly States of Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting presided over by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur further decided to defer 12 percent free power for first 12 years in case of already allotted projects.

    Source: Business Standard

    GMR signs pact with investor group to sell off hydropower project

    7 May. GMR Energy Ltd has signed a definitive agreement with a consortium of international investor Group for divesting its entire stake in Himtal Hydropower Company Pvt Ltd and its associated transmission company Marsyandgi Transmission Company Pvt Ltd, in Nepal. GMR Group said that the project is currently under development stage and is expected to be commissioned by 2021-22. GMR said it signed the agreement with SCIG International Nepal Hydro Joint Development Company Private Ltd, SCIG International Ltd, Xingcheng International Investment Company Ltd and QYEC International Company Ltd and a Nepal-based Butwal Power Company Ltd. GMR Energy, a subsidiary of GMR Infrastructure Ltd, is developing the 600 MW Upper Marsyangdi -2 Hydro Electric Power Project (UMHEP) on the river Marsyangdi in Lamjung and Manang districts of Nepal. According to GMR, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade has already granted a long term license which is valid for 30 years for the import of power from this project.

    Source: Business Standard

    Spent fuel will be stored at KKNPP site itself: NPCIL

    7 May. The Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) plans to hold the spent nuclear fuel from the two units at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) at the site itself till the ‘away from reactor’ (AFR) is ready. According to a status report submitted by the NPCIL to the AERB last December, the revised schedule for the completion of construction of the AFR is April 2022. In the report, the NPCIL said the spent fuel assemblies (FA) would have at least five years of cooling in the fuel pool prior to the transfer from the pool to outside the reactor. Considering that the transfer of the first batch of FAs from the reactor core to fuel pool was completed in September 2015, the transfer of FA to AFR could be done only after September 2020, according to the report. According to the report, the total capacity of the fuel pool is 565 cells for spent fuel assembly and 64 cells for sealed cans for storing defective fuel assemblies. As per the report, the AFR will be needed in operational status at the end of the eighth operational year of Unit-1, which is before August 2023.

    Source: The Hindu

    Rooftop solar panels must in Gurugram government buildings

    6 May. The Haryana government is going to make it mandatory for all public buildings, like schools, health centres, offices etc., to have rooftop solar panels as part of a state-wide project that will be first implemented in Gurugram and Faridabad. PK Mahapatra, additional chief secretary, new and renewable energy department, Haryana, made the announcement, days after a WHO report listed Gurugram as the 11th most polluted city in the world. And one of the main culprits behind the city’s high pollution levels is diesel gensets that are used as backup at a large number of residential societies, government offices and commercial complexes. Mahapatra said the government wanted every public office to have its own solar power generation system, and would ensure “solarisation” of the entire state in a phased manner. Tangible change would be visible in that direction in next six months. In Gurugram, the installed capacity of solar power reached 25 MW earlier this year — far less than what is required (a peak demand of 1,600 MW on a summer day) — almost four years after the government made it mandatory for every new home with an area up to 500 square yard or more to install solar panels. The Haryana government in September 2014 had announced a grid-connected solar rooftop policy and made it mandatory for every new home across the state with an area up to 500 square yard or more to install a solar power system. The policy was all applicable for commercial and industrial consumers, besides hospitals, malls and hotels. Mahapatra maintained that buyers of solar rooftop panels would eventually get the subsidies, even if late. To help residents procure rooftop panels, Gurugram First has launched a help desk.

    Source: The Times of India

    Climate change hits mango output in Chittoor district

    5 May. The tail-end Chittoor district, considered number one in mango yield in the State, is facing adverse conditions at the field-level with heavy gales and hailstorm hitting vast stretches of mango plantations in the first week of May, leading to crop damage to the tune of hundreds of tonnes. Generally, one who would pass through highways of the district would notice rich flowering in the mango gardens from mid December. But this year, the flowering came up only February mid, immediately followed by untimely rains. By April, the first batch of mangoes of various varieties would hit the markets all over the district. In contrast, even by first week of May, the markets are yet to see the mango stocks.

    Source: The Hindu

    Haryana to introduce solar based tubewell scheme for farmers

    5 May. Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu said that the state government is mulling to implement a solar based tubewell scheme in the state. The scheme aims to benefit the farmers as they would be able to generate electricity and earn income. He said that under this scheme, six lakh tubewells in the State would be linked with solar energy. The farmers would be able to utilize the solar energy as per the requirement and also sell the surplus power available with them. This would help them earn income, he said. He said that the aim of the scheme is to make the farmer producer besides the consumer. The power subsidy of Rs 7000 crore to be given under this scheme would also be borne by the state government. This scheme would be finalized soon, he said.

    Source: The Economic Times

    BSES installs first grid-connected rooftop solar plant

    4 May. Delhi electricity distribution company (discom) BSES-Rajdhani announced it has installed the first grid-connected 100 KW solar rooftop plant in a residential housing society in Dwarka locality of the city as part of its Solar City Initiative to "solarise" the area. Shiv Bhole Cooperative Group Housing Society (CGHS) in Dwarka has become the first such housing society to install a 100 KW grid-connected rooftop solar plant, BSES said. Solarise Dwarka initiative, launched in January, is being implemented by BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ India) under its Indo-German Solar Partnership project, it said.

    Source: Business Standard

    Haryana disputes WHO pollution report on Faridabad

    4 May. The Haryana Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) has disputed the recent report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating that Faridabad is at second place in the list of most polluted cities in the world. Haryana Environment and Climate Change Minister Vipul Goel said that the HSPCB has been monitoring the data since 2010 through a Continuous Air Ambient Quality Monitoring Station in Faridabad and Gurugram, both adjoining New Delhi. The WHO report had recently listed the most polluted cities in the world, 14 out of the top 15 most polluted cities listed were from India, with Kanpur and Faridabad leading the pack. The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had earlier disputed the WHO report on Patiala city being among the top 15 most polluted cities in the world.

    Source: Business Standard

    Delhi seeks meet of NCR Environment Ministers on air pollution

    2 May. Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain asked the Central government to call a meeting of Environment Ministers of NCR (National Capital Region) states and other stakeholder departments to find solution to the issue of air pollution in the capital. Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Harsh Vardhan said that there was a need for Environment Ministers and other agencies to come together to resolve the issue of pollution from bio-mass burning, industries, vehicular emissions, construction and demolition activities, selection of landfill sites for municipal solid waste management etc.

    Source: Business Standard


    INTERNATIONAL: OIL

    OPEC to keep working for stable oil market: Barkindo

    8 May. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)-led efforts to stabilise the oil market will be maintained, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said when asked about the consequences if the United States (US) exits a nuclear agreement with OPEC member Iran. US President Donald Trump will announce whether he will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. An exit has raised concern that Iranian oil exports could be cut, putting upward pressure on prices.

    Source: Reuters

    Poland cuts dependence on Russian oil but at a cost

    8 May. Poland’s imports of Russian oil last year fell to their lowest level since 2005, a central bank report showed, though Warsaw’s bid to diversify its energy imports also meant paying higher prices. Russian oil accounted for 76 percent of all oil purchases, down from 96 percent in 2012, as state-run refiners PKN Orlen and Lotos increased their purchases of oil from sources other than Russia. PKN Orlen signed a long-term agreement on regular oil supplies with Saudi Aramco in 2016 and since then both PKN and Lotos have also purchased oil from Iran and the United States. But Poland is paying a price for its diversification. While the cost of Russian crude in December averaged $59.70 per barrel, Kazakh oil was $60.20 and U.S. oil $65.60 a barrel, the report said. Polish refineries rely mostly n Russian oil delivered via pipelines built in the 1960s but last year every third barrel of oil imported was shipped, the report also said.

    Source: Reuters

    Iran prepares to export new oil grade amid sanctions threat

    8 May. Iran is readying the first commercial exports of its West Karoun crude oil grade for May or June, even as fresh economic sanctions against the country loom. Iran has already been shipping samples of the grade to customers since production from the West Karoun oilfields in southwest Iran nearly doubled in the past year to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). A new export facility allows West Karoun to be shipped directly rather than blended with other grades. Iran used to sell crude only under long-term deals before economic sanctions were imposed in 2012, but began spot sales after sanctions were lifted in 2016 to regain market share. Iran’s effort to develop demand for West Karoun suggests Tehran hopes to sell the oil even in the face of possible new sanctions.

    Source: Reuters

    Russia's oil exports to Europe decline as quality worsens

    8 May. Russia has exported less crude oil to Europe this year as the quality of the fuel on offer deteriorated and tense diplomatic relations prompted it to redirect more volumes to China. Russia increased oil pipeline exports to China by almost 50 percent in January-April from a year earlier to 12.4 million tonnes, Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for Transneft, Russia’s oil pipeline monopoly, said. The increase in oil supplies to China has resulted in a worsening quality of Europe-bound Urals blend, including an increase of unwanted sulfur content. Dyomin said that Hungary, Slovakia and Poland cut Russian oil imports by around 10 percent in January-April, and shipments to Europe via the two branches of the Soviet-built Druzhba pipeline declined by 225,000 tonnes to 15.75 million tonnes in the first fourth months of the year.

    Source: Reuters

    Conoco aims to seize PDVSA oil inventories in Curacao

    7 May. ConocoPhillips is trying to seize PDVSA’s oil assets at the 335,000 barrel per day (bpd) Isla refinery in Curacao, which would expand its control over the Venezuelan state-run company’s barrels for export. Under court orders to enforce a $2 billion arbitration award by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the United States (US) oil firm temporarily seized about 4 million barrels of crude that PDVSA had stored on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius and took control of a terminal on Bonaire, prompting PDVSA to move several oil tankers away from the region. Bonaire held about 800,000 barrels of fuel oil, according to a source close to the operations. In Aruba, most oil inventories belong to PDVSA’s US refining arm Citgo Petroleum.

    Source: Reuters

    Sudan in talks with Saudi Arabia on five-year oil aid agreement

    7 May. Saudi Arabia would supply Sudan’s energy needs for five years on credit under an agreement being discussed by both governments, Sudan Oil Minister Abdulrahman Othman said. Othman said the deal would provide about 1.8 million tonnes of oil a year to Sudan, which in recent months has been hit by a sharp foreign currency crisis and an acute fuel shortage that has forced people to queue at gas stations for hours. Once an oil exporter, Sudan was forced to begin importing it after the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output and its main source of foreign currency.

    Source: Reuters

    Iraq, BP sign Kirkuk oilfield development contract

    7 May. Iraq’s North Oil Company signed an agreement with BP to triple output from the Kirkuk fields in the north of the country, Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said. Under the deal, BP will boost output capacity from six fields in the Kirkuk region to a total of more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd). Iraq plans to start trucking crude from Kirkuk to Iran, but the road to the border has yet to be secured from attacks by Islamic State insurgents. Kirkuk is one of the biggest and oldest oilfields in the Middle East, estimated to contain about 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to BP. BP has provided technical assistance in the past to North Oil to help redevelop the Kirkuk field. Iraq, the second biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) behind Saudi Arabia, has capacity to produce almost 5 million bpd, but now produces 4.45 million bpd to comply with an OPEC-led deal to curb supplies. Most of Iraq’s crude is produced from areas managed by the central government of Baghdad, in the south, and exported from southern ports on the Gulf. The KRG exports about 300,000 bpd of crude from northern Iraq through a pipeline across Turkey.

    Source: Reuters

    Tehran prefers 'reasonable' oil price: Iranian Oil Minister

    6 May. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said that Tehran preferred a “reasonable” crude oil price to avoid market instability. He said that “manufactured tensions” were the reason behind the current rise in oil prices. Oil prices rose about 2 percent, with Brent settling up $1.25 at $74.87 a barrel, as global supplies remained tight and the market awaited news from Washington on possible new US (United States) sanctions against Iran.

    Source: Reuters

    Brazil energy council proposes September 28 for 5th pre-salt oil auction

    4 May. Brazil’s energy policy council CNPE has proposed September 28 for a fifth auction of blocks in Brazil’s choice pre-salt offshore oil play, the mining and energy ministry said. The proposed auction, which needs presidential approval, will include the Saturno, Tita, Pau-Brasil and Southeast of Tartaruga Verde fields in the Campos and Santos basins. In the coveted pre-salt area, billions of barrels of oil are trapped under a thick layer of salt beneath the ocean floor. Brazilian oil regulator ANP also approved a permanent tender of oil blocks that have been returned to the state or were not sold at auction, selecting an initial 1,054 blocks in 20 onshore and offshore basins.

    Source: Reuters

    US lifts Keystone oil pipeline pressure restrictions

    4 May. Pressure restrictions on TransCanada Corp’s Keystone oil pipeline were lifted in a letter issued by US (United States) pipeline safety regulators. It was not immediately clear what current flow rates are, the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said.

    Source: Reuters

    Carnarvon plans drilling of first production well at Buffalo oil field

    May 3. Carnarvon Petroleum said that redevelopment of its Buffalo oil field in the Timor Sea is progressing with plans to drill the first production well. Carnarvon is extensively engaging with suppliers for the drilling of the Buffalo-10 well and the subsequent re-development of the field. The Buffalo-10 well is intended to be the first production well in the oil field redevelopment, positioned to test the new oil in the attic accumulation as well as drill deeper into the oil pool in the previously developed portion of the field. The previously developed portion of the oil field was producing at around 4,000 barrels of oil per day when the field was shut in. All interpretations on the further improved seismic data support the existence of the attic containing an undeveloped oil column of up to 60 metres, up-dip of the previously highest perforated interval in the field.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    Mexico's Pemex weighs beginning crude swaps later this year: CEO

    3 May. Mexico’s state-run oil company Pemex could start swapping domestic heavy crudes for foreign light oil in the second half of the year to raise the quality of its fuels production, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carlos Trevino said. The company, whose crude output fell 3 percent to 1.89 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter, is looking for lighter crude grades for its refining network, which is currently operating at 48 percent of its 1.54 million bpd capacity. Exchanges, which would allow Pemex to access foreign crudes from West Africa and Colombia, would be temporary as new domestic barrels from ventures with foreign and local firms are expected to reach up to 50,000 bpd in 2019. Lower refining runs has allowed Pemex to export slightly more crude in recent months, but to increase both oil exports and fuel production it must reverse a 14-year-long decline in output. Pemex sees production gaining by mid-year.

    Source: Reuters


    INTERNATIONAL: GAS

    Croatia seeks fresh bids to supply future LNG terminal

    8 May. Croatia issued a fresh tender to provide a ship-based import terminal for a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the island of Krk in the northern Adriatic, part of an EU (European Union) drive to diversify away from Russian gas imports. LNG Croatia, the firm behind the project, said the previous tender has been canceled because of the need to scale down the size of the project and its cost, but did not provide details. The initial projected capacity of the terminal was 2.6 billion cubic meters of gas a year. Few bids were submitted in the first round, although LNG Hrvatska has not given any official figures. Croatia hopes the terminal will start operations in early 2020. The level of demand is likely to determine whether the project will go ahead.

    Source: Reuters

    Morocco gas discovery 'significantly exceeds' pre-drill estimates

    8 May. North Africa focused oil and gas company, SDX Energy Inc, has made a conventional natural gas discovery at its LMS-1 exploration well on the Lalla Mimouna permit in Morocco. LMS-1 was drilled to a total depth of 3,799 feet and encountered 54 feet of net conventional gas pay sands. The well is now being completed as a conventional natural gas producer and will be perforated and tested approximately 30 days after the drilling rig has left the site. The latest discovery on Lalla Mimouna follows SDX’s previous conventional natural gas find on the permit, which was announced on April 20. This discovery was made at the company’s LNB-1 well, which was drilled to a total depth of 6,105 feet and encountered 984 feet of gas bearing horizons.

    Source: Rigzone

    Cyprus-Egypt gas pipeline to cost $800 mn-$1 bn

    7 May. A planned pipeline connecting Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field to Egypt’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities will cost between $800 million and $1 billion, Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla said. Egypt has rapidly increased its production of natural gas and hopes to become a hub for exporting to Europe after making a series of big discoveries in recent years. Molla said Cypriot gas would be used in part for domestic consumption and in part for export. Molla said that Egypt aims to sign an agreement with Cyprus for a pipeline to transport gas from the Aphrodite field to its LNG facilities. Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said a final agreement on the pipeline would be signed as quickly as possible but did not specify when. Egypt hopes to halt gas imports by 2019 and achieve self-sufficiency. Egypt has an extensive pipeline network and two idle gas liquefaction plants ready to export new gas as it arrives. Molla said that domestic gas production has increased to 5.7 billion cubic feet per day as a result of new production coming online, up from 5.5 billion in February.

    Source: Reuters

    Cyprus, Israel seek gas-sharing formula to unlock East Mediterranean energy hub

    7 May. An ownership squabble over Cyprus’ main natural gas field is threatening to delay multi-billion dollar plans to turn the eastern Mediterranean into a major energy hub. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz are flying to Cyprus to spur plans to join the two countries’ electricity grids and construct a pipeline to link newly found gas fields to mainland Europe. Standing in the way, however, is a dispute over Aphrodite, a gas field discovered in 2011 at the edge of Cyprus’ economic waters. At stake is 7-10 billion cubic meters of gas worth close to $1.5 billion, according to one recent estimate in Israel.  That is less than 10 percent of Aphrodite’s total reserves and a fraction of the gas already discovered in Israel.

    Source: Reuters

    Greece's gas company DEPA to take part in a market test for LNG terminal

    4 May. Greek gas company DEPA will take part in a market test for the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in northern Greece, DEPA said. Greece currently has one LNG terminal on an islet off Athens. Gastrade, part of Greek energy group Copelouzos, is planning a second LNG terminal near the northern city of Alexandroupolis. DEPA last year agreed to participate in the project, while Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) has also expressed interest in the scheme. DEPA has agreed with BEH and Gastrade on the future capacity reservation by DEPA and for the company’s participation in the test that will carried out in the coming months, DEPA said. The LNG facility, with an estimated annual capacity of 6.1 billion cubic metres (bcm), will seek to supply gas to southeastern Europe via another natural gas pipeline scheme that will cross through Greece, the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB).

    Source: Reuters

    Sri Lanka approves $500 mn LNG plant near Chinese-controlled port

    4 May. Sri Lanka’s state-run investment body has approved a $500 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant by China Machinery Engineering Corp near a Chinese-controlled port and industrial zone, the Development Strategies Minister Malik Samarawickrama said. The state-run Board of Investment has approved investment projects worth $1 billion in the first quarter, said, the largest of which was the LNG project in Hambantota, where China Merchants Port Holdings controls a Chinese-built port on a 99-year lease.

    Source: Reuters


    INTERNATIONAL: COAL

    Indonesia sees coal output flat in 2019 amid equipment shortage

    7 May. Indonesia is targeting annual production of 481 million tonnes of coal this year and next, the mining ministry said, as producers of the fuel are struggling to get new heavy equipment and parts. That’s up around 4 percent from the 461 million tonnes Indonesia produced in 2017. Indonesia’s National Development Planning Board (BAPPENAS) has pushed for coal output to be capped at 400 million tonnes in 2019, but according to coal and minerals director general Bambang Gatot Ariyono that target needs to be “harmonised” with other considerations. Amid concerns Indonesia could exhaust existing minable coal reserves of 13 billion tonnes 25 years, the government is considering measures to push miners to carry out exploration work before they can obtain permits to increase output. Indonesian coal exploration has increased as “almost all” miners have increased their capital spending this year, the Indonesian Coal Mining Association said.

    Source: Reuters

    Bangladesh signs deal with China to set up coal-based power plant

    7 May. The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and China Huadian Hongkong Company Ltd (CHDHK) have signed an agreement to form a joint venture company to set up a coal-based power plant with a capacity of 1,320 MW, BPDB said. The joint venture, equally owned by both the companies, will take four years to start production. Bangladesh plans to provide electricity to all of its more than 160 million citizen by 2021, the year in which it aims to enter the league of middle-income countries. At present, 20 percent of its people do not have electricity while the country is facing a shortage of between 1,000 and 1,500 MW electricity a day which goes up to 2,000 during peak season of summer. Bangladesh at present produces up to 9,500 of electricity a day with a capacity of 12,000 MW, but owing to the shortage of primary fuel the country has not been able to utilize its full capacity.

    Source: Reuters


    INTERNATIONAL: POWER

    FirstEnergy on track to complete transmission line project in Northern Ohio

    8 May. FirstEnergy said that one of its subsidiaries is all set to energize a new 138 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and substation to improve service reliability for Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison customers in northern Ohio. The project includes a new transmission line that extends about 28 miles between existing substations in Erie and Sandusky counties. The line will also connect a new substation under construction near Bellevue, Ohio, giving grid operators added flexibility to help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages. Line construction began late last year after a FirstEnergy subsidiary, American Transmission Systems, Inc., (ATSI) obtained approval to build the project from the Ohio Power Siting Board. The new facilities are on schedule to be energized ahead of a May 31 in-service deadline. The project, which costs more than $50 million, is part of Energizing the Future, a multi-year investment initiative aimed at upgrading FirstEnergy's transmission facilities with advanced equipment and technologies that will reinforce the power grid and help reduce the frequency and duration of customer outages.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    France should end regulated power tariffs: Court adviser

    5 May. A senior counsel of France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has recommended that France end regulated electricity prices, state-controlled utility EDF said. The utility said it had noted the recommendation, which argued the regulated tariffs, which some 30 million clients are still subscribed to, did not comply with European competition regulations. EDF said it would make no further comment. The court’s final decision is expected by the end of May. An end to regulated prices could intensify competition in France’s retail electricity market, where EDF faces growing competition from alternative suppliers. French oil and gas major Total in April said it would buy a majority stake in electricity retailer Direct Energie in a €1.4 billion ($1.67 billion) deal. Italy’s energy group Eni and French consumer retailer Casino have also entered the power market. A decade after France liberalized it energy sector, former monopoly EDF still holds around an 85 percent share of the retail power market, with most of its customers on regulated tariffs.

    Source: Reuters

    No power cuts this year: South Africa's Eskom

    May 3. South African power utility Eskom, which is grappling with liquidity problems, pledged that it would not resort to controlled power blackouts this year despite reports that it was facing coal shortages. Eskom supplies about 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity, predominantly by burning coal. The state-owned utility has been forced to introduce nationwide electricity cuts in the past decade, the latest in 2015, denting economic output. Eskom said that six power plants currently had less than the required coal supplies, down from seven recently, and the company has raised 43 billion rand ($3 billion) to run its operations since January.

    Source: Reuters

    New York power grid expects demand to decline through 2028

    3 May. New York’s power grid operator forecast that demand for power from the system will decline over the next decade due to efficiency programs and as more homes and businesses generate their own electricity on site. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the grid operator, projected power demand would decline at a rate of 0.14 percent per year through 2028. Annual electric usage in 2017 fell to its lowest level since 2001, according to the NYISO. In 2017, demand peaked at 29,699 MW, which was 7.4 percent below 2016’s peak of 32,075 MW and 12.6 percent below the record peak of 33,956 in 2013. One megawatt can power about 1,000 US (United States) homes. At the same time that demand for power from the grid is declining, the NYISO said the state’s generation mix is changing as energy companies build mostly natural gas-fired units downstate and mostly wind farms update, while coal and nuclear plants retire.

    Source: Reuters

    Entergy begins construction of China-Stowell transmission project in Texas

    2 May. US (United States) energy company Entergy has started construction of the 230 kilovolt (kV) China-Stowell transmission project in Texas as part of a $2 bn investment on modernizing its infrastructure in the state. The $66 mn transmission project will comprise 40.2 kilometre (km) of high-voltage transmission lines spread from just west of China in Jefferson County to the Stowell Substation in Chambers County. Expected to be placed into service in 2019, the China-Stowell transmission project will be the fourth source of high-voltage power in the Stowell region, Entergy said. The company said that the transmission project is expected to help in delivering reliable, low-cost electricity to its customers in Texas. Further, it anticipates the construction of the project to produce additional economic benefits across the area. The new lines to be built as part of the China-Stowell transmission project will support and facilitate economic development in the area, in addition to improving reliability for existing and future customers, Entergy said. As part of the China-Stowell transmission project, Entergy Texas will also expand the existing China Substation and Stowell Substation. The company’s near $2 bn investment will be made over the next three years for expanding its service in Southeast Texas and also for enhancing electrical service to its customers in the 27 counties served by it currently in Texas. Entergy Texas has allocated $825 mn in new power generation, $600 mn in transmission projects such as the China-Stowell project and $415 mn distribution upgrades.

    Source: Energy Business Review


    INTERNATIONAL: NON-FOSSIL FUELS/ CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS

    US President open to exported ethanol qualifying under biofuel laws

    8 May. US (United States) President Donald Trump told a group of Republican senators that he is considering allowing exported ethanol and other biofuels to count towards the annual volumes mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump also backed off plans to put a price cap on compliance credits refiners must submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and supports lifting restrictions on the sales of higher ethanol blends of gasoline. Trump hosted a meeting with a group of senators and administration officials to outline a plan to help refiners with regulatory cost of the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) while boosting demand for corn-based ethanol.

    Source: Reuters

    SkyPower signs PPA with Uzbekistan for 1 GW solar energy

    8 May. Canada-based utility-scale solar power plant developer SkyPower has signed a new power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Government of Uzbekistan for the proposed 1 GW of solar plants to be built in the country. Under the terms of the deal, SkyPower will sell power generated from the new solar power plants, which will be developed with around $1.3 bn investment to be made in Uzbekistan. For the solar projects development, SkyPower will work together with Uzbekistan’s state-owned utility Uzbekenergo. SkyPower said that the development of the plants will represent the largest foreign direct investment in Uzbekistan and the first public-private partnership between the country and a North American company. Additionally, the solar projects’ output will allow Uzbekistan to generate nearly 10% of its total renewable energy and help reach the country’s commitments to the 2030 Paris Climate deal, SkyPower said.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    EU states call for ambitious truck CO2 emissions targets

    7 May. France and four other European Union (EU) countries have called for ambitious carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction targets for trucks, ahead of a proposal from the European Commission expected later this month. The Ministers from Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Luxembourg call on the Commission to set a CO2 emission reduction target of at least 24 percent for 2025 and 35-45 percent for 2030. Unlike other countries such as the United States, China, Japan and Canada, the EU has no limits on CO2 emissions from trucks, which account for a quarter of road transport emissions while making up just 5 percent of the vehicles on the road. The EU wants to curb greenhouse gas emissions from transport as part of a drive to cut emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

    Source: Reuters

    Risen Energy breaks ground on 25 MW solar plant in Nepal

    7 May. Chinese PV (photovoltaic) module producer Risen Energy has commenced construction of a 25 MW solar plant in Nuwakot, Nepal under an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). Risen Energy is the general contractor for the 25 MW solar PV power station. The project represents one of the Chinese solar panel maker's efforts in compliance with the Chinese government's One Belt, One Road initiative by exporting products, brands and technologies abroad, as well as a milestone demonstrating how an efficient and professional solar PV solution from China solves the electricity shortage in Nepal. Upon completion, the power station is expected to become the first large-scale ground-mounted PV station.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    Saudi Energy Minister 'optimistic' on South Korea being shortlisted for nuclear project

    4 May. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said he was “optimistic” about South Korea being shortlisted to build nuclear power plants for the Middle Eastern kingdom. Falih said that South Korea could expect a “good result” when asked about outcome of bidding on the project, without going into details. Saudi Arabia plans to build two nuclear plants to diversify its energy supply and has been in talks with companies from South Korea, the United States, Russia and China for the tender. Should South Korea win the bid, it would be the country’s second nuclear exports deal. In 2009, a consortium led by state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) clinched its first nuclear exports deal with the United Arab Emirates. Falih met South Korean President Moon Jae-in and South Korean Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu to expand bilateral cooperation in energy and other sectors.

    Source: Reuters

    Statoil eyes Britain's 2019 renewable subsidy auction for Dogger Bank

    4 May. Statoil is working with its partner SSE to develop the Dogger Bank offshore wind project so it can take part in Britain’s renewable energy subsidy auction in 2019. The planned 4.8 GW Dogger Bank project, which has approval from the British authorities, is set to become the world’s largest offshore wind park and could deliver more than five percent of Britain’s electricity needs, Statoil said. Britain has replaced direct subsidies with a contracts-for-difference (CfD) system. Qualifying projects are guaranteed a minimum price at which they can sell electricity and renewable power generators bid for CfD contracts in a round of auctions. Statoil has a 50 percent stake in the partnership developing 3.6 GW of the approved capacity at Dogger Bank. Last year, Statoil built the world’s first floating offshore wind park off Scotland, using in-house technology. Its plans also include developing a 1.5 GW offshore wind park in the United States outside New York. Statoil also entered the first project to build a 162 MW solar power plant in Argentina last year.

    Source: Reuters

    Centrus signs long-term nuclear fuel supply deal with Orano

    4 May. Centrus Energy has agreed to expand its supply arrangements with French nuclear fuel cycle company Orano Cycle. Under an agreement signed on April 27, 2018, Orano will provide Centrus with a substantial long-term supply of separative work units (SWU) beginning after 2020. The supply from Orano provides Centrus with access to over 6 million SWU through 2030, a quantity that is equivalent to more than 50 reactor-years of nuclear fuel.

    Source: Energy Business Review

    DATA INSIGHT

    All India Electricity Generation from Wind & Solar Power

    Million Units

    YearsElectricity Generation
    WindSolar
    2014-1533768.34599.02
    2015-1633029.47447.92
    2016-1746004.313499.4
    2017-18*49751.622539.7

    * For the period April 2017 to February 2018

    Trends (in Percentage Change w.r.to Previous Year) in Electricity Generation through Wind & Solar

    Source: Press Information Bureau & Central Electricity Authority


    Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

    Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

    Editor: Akhilesh Sati

    Content Development: Vinod Kumar Toma

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