MonitorsPublished on Apr 01, 2019
Energy News Monitor | Volume XV; Issue 42


Power News Commentary: February - March 2019


A Group of Ministers is learnt to have discussed external factors —including irregular payments from distribution companies, shortage in fuel supplies and regulators delay in raising power tariffs, that have led to the stress in the sector, and work out certain solutions. Power producers have been pitching for a relief from the RBI’s February 2018 circular, asserting that the stress in the sector is caused by factors beyond their control. The circular stipulates a one-day default rule on term loans, which mandates treating a borrower who misses repayments as a defaulter the very next day. It requires banks to finalise a resolution plan in case of a default on large accounts of ₹20 bn or more within 180 days (irrespective of sectors), failing which insolvency proceedings will have to be invoked against the defaulter. According to an industry estimate, promoters of most among the 34 identified stressed power projects could lose ownership. A large chunk of the 34 projects, with a combined capacity of about 39 GW and banks’ exposure of ₹1.7k bn, would now take the insolvency route. In its report after consultations with stakeholders, the finance ministry last year said the RBI’s “one-size-fits-all approach” under the circular might not be the most suitable response to deal with stressed assets in the power sector. For its part, the RBI has stuck to its ground and refused to give any special relief to the power sector from its circular, partly due to apprehension that any such move could spur demand for similar relief from other sectors.

Ratings agency ICRA has termed approval of HLEC’s recommendations for resolution of stressed thermal power plants as a positive move. Use of domestic linkage coal would enable generators to offer more competitive tariffs for short-term sale, which is also likely to benefit discoms given that they are purchasing larger volumes through short-term PPAs. While the CCEA has recommended a regular auction of coal linkages and increase in quantity of coal for special forward e-auction, this would require significant ramping up of production and supplies by CIL. ICRA estimates that this increase in output would have to be at least 8 percent higher than the current levels under the assumption of the aforesaid 16 GW capacity operating at 50 percent power load factor under the short-term/medium-term PPAs. The government is focused on the medium-term PPA route to resolve the issue of lack of PPAs for coal-based independent power producers as seen from the first 2.5 GW pilot scheme executed in 2018 and the second 2.5 GW scheme announced in January 2019. However, the recommendations of the HLEC related to payment security mechanism involving the bill discounting framework with discoms to address the issue of delayed payments and measures for improving the utilisation of the stranded gas-based power projects have remained pending.

Power industry experts have hailed the new tariff regulations announced by the central electricity regulator for the period between 2019 and 2024, welcoming several new guidelines. They, however, also cautioned against the possibility of a marginal negative impact on generation projects with respect to new operating norms. The new regulations are set to benefit state-owned utilities including largest generator NTPC Ltd and PGCIL that transmits around a half of the country’s total electricity through its transmission network. The new CERC regulations state that the assets installed for implementation of the revised emission standards will form a part of the existing generation project and tariff thereof will be determined separately on submission of the completion certificate by the board of the generating company. CERC has approved recovery of capacity charges for thermal generation projects separately during high demand season (three months) and low demand season (remaining nine months).

The Centre is likely to come up with a nationwide tariff policy by 31 March to make it a legal obligation for power discoms to provide 24x7 electricity supply. The discoms found indulging in load shedding without proper reasons such as natural calamity will be liable to pay penalty. Power was being supplied for 22-24 hours in urban areas and 18-22 hours in rural areas across the country.  India has become a “surplus” country in terms of power generation and it is supplying electricity to countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

CERC has allowed power plants (selling electricity under the ‘cost plus’ system) to receive higher compensation for loss in fuel quality while coal is ferried and stored. Additionally, for computing tariff of power from such plants, the electricity regulator maintained the base return on equity at 15.5 percent. The latest regulations will impact the electricity tariff for 76 GW power plants that sell power under the ‘cost-plus’ system between FY19 and FY-24. CERC kept the definition of ‘useful life’ for coal power plants intact at 25 years.

The CERC has announced new regulations that will govern trading of power with neighbouring countries. The new regulations have allowed cross border entities to trade on Indian Day Ahead Market on exchanges for the first time. Under the Cross Border Trade of Electricity Regulations 2019, sale and purchase of power between India and the neighbouring countries will be allowed through mutual agreements between the local entities and the entities of the neighbouring countries through bilateral agreement between two countries, bidding route or through mutual agreements between entities. According to IEX, the new regulations were long due and awaited as they have allowed trading through power exchanges. The regulations state that the tariff for import or export of electricity across the border will be determined through competitive bidding or through mutual agreements signed between the parties under the overall framework of agreements signed between India and the neighbouring countries. Under the new regulations, foreign entities will have to apply to the Central Transmission Utility for seeking connectivity, long-term access or medium-term access while applications for short-term access will have to made to the NLDC which will act as the system operator. Currently, a mere 3,000 MW of power is traded in the South Asia region among seven countries including India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The country annually imports around 1,200 MW power from Bhutan, exports 1,200 MW to Bangladesh, exports 450 MW to Nepal and 3 MW to Myanmar.

In a ruling that offers some relief to consumers, Bombay High Court has held power supply cannot be cut over non-payment of past consumption if the dues were not reflected as arrears continuously for the preceding two years. However, the decision to disconnect would depend on "facts and circumstances of each case", the court held. The legal issue arose after power supply utilities threatened disconnection on bills raised for the first time for power consumed, in some cases, 17 years ago.

The power ministry is likely to issue soon new norms for bringing greener options of electricity transmission cables like aluminium to protect environment from ill-effects of lead-based equipment. The ministry along the CEA has been discussing issue with industry players to bring new guidelines to avoid use of the material. According to World Health Organisation estimates, 240 mn people globally are overexposed to lead poisoning. The lead-based metallic sheath used in power cables for earthing and anti-corrosion purposes contributes to 35-48 percent of the weight of cables of voltage levels ranging from 66 kV to 220 kV. A single km of cable, which weighs about 20 tonne/km has lead content of almost 8 tonne/km. The underground power cables have an average life of 25-30 years and once they are laid, they are never dismantled. An industry expert said that power cable manufacturers need to be further encouraged to innovate more and prove the alternatives as rugged and reliable as lead sheathed cables.

Electrification work is currently under progress in four naxal-infested districts in Chhattisgarh. Data sourced from the portal of Saubhagya scheme shows 97.32 percent households have been electrified in Chhattisgarh and 19,896 houses are still awaiting power connection. The number of un-electrified households stands at 10,213 in Bijapur; 6,942 in Sukma; 6,942 in Narayanpur; and 687 in Dantewada. The government electrified 74,343 households in Chhattisgarh in October 2018, 51,046 houses in November, 23,465 in January and in February 15,150 houses have been electrified so far.

Several government agencies and public utilities are disincentivising e-payments by refusing to bear transaction costs charged by banks even as the government promotes digital India. Banks are passing on the cost of online payment to customers in several e-portals. In some cases, not only are charges being illegally passed on, the amount is also higher than what banks are allowed to charge merchants as fees. Electricity consumers in Delhi have to pay 1 percent extra on their bill amount when they make payments through UPI. Consumers of Tata Power end up paying a surcharge when their bills are over ₹2,000 in Mumbai and ₹5,000 in Delhi. A study on surcharges in digital payments has shown that despite a well-meaning policy and directives against passing on the surcharge to customers by the RBI, banks continue to facilitate surcharging. Delhi residents pay 1 percent extra on power bills paid through UPI According to Das, the surcharge is different from a ‘service charge’ or a ‘convenience fee’ that merchants are allowed to charge.

India is likely to save an estimated 3 bn units of electricity by 2030 as a result of the newly launched star rating programme for microwave ovens and washing machines. The power ministry has expanded its ambitious Standards & Labeling (Star Rating) program for energy efficiency for appliances to cover the two appliances. The programme has been formulated by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. It will be initially implemented for the two appliances on a voluntary basis and will remain valid till 31 December, 2020.

Average spot power price slipped 4 percent to ₹3.08/kWh in February at IEX, compared to ₹3.23/kWh a year ago, mainly on subdued demand following extended winters. Lower DAM volume of 2,794 MU in February was primarily due to extended winters and thus subdued demand for power from northern and western states, as per the IEX said. One Nation, one price was realised only for 4 days during the month, primarily due to constraints in southern import. On daily average basis, 722 participants traded in the market during the month, the IEX said. The TAM traded 84 MU in February 2019, registering an increase of 67 MU over same month last year. The IEX said that all India peak demand touched 162 GW on 5 February 2019, 3 percent increase over highest peak demand of 157 GW during February 2018 as per NLDC reports. The electricity market at IEX the DAM and TAM combined traded 2,879 MU in February 2019, a decline of 15 percent over 3,343 MU traded in February 2018. In 2018-19 (year to date), IEX has cumulatively traded 80,21,412 units over 72,49,454 traded in the same period last year, registering an increase of about 11 per cent, the IEX said.

The capital’s power demand is expected to cross 7,400 MW this summer — around 400 MW more than last year. Arrangements have been firmed up by BSES discoms to source adequate electricity to meet the demand of over 4.2 million consumers. These arrangements include long-term PPAs and banking arrangements with other states, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Manipur and Sikkim.

Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd joined hands with European firms Enedis, Schneider Electric, Odit-e and VaasaETT to implement a 1 MW smart grid demonstration project in the national capital, which would be insulated from any blackout in the main grid. This microgrid will cater to a specific area which could be connected to main grid or can be at an isolated place. The project is planned to start in May this year and is expected to be completed by October 2022.

With an aim to improve the reliability of power supply in the national capital, NCT of Delhi is planning to spend ₹46 bn on power transmission projects for the period till 2022, according to the Economic Survey of Delhi 2017-18. Various new and augmentation transmission network projects of 400 kV and 220 kV with an approximate cost of ₹46 bn for adding 7,680 MVA transformation capacity at 220 kV level and 6,815 MVA including 4,000 MVA of inter-state transmission system substations at 400 kV level in the network are envisaged in business plan for the period up to 2022, the Economic Survey noted. For improving the power conditions in Delhi, all three companies including BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, and Tata Power Delhi Distribution are augmenting infrastructure such as power transformers, EHV cables, installation, 11 kV feeders, and shunt capacitors, etc. According to the Survey, the total capital investment made by these three distribution companies since financial year 2010-11 was ₹57.84 bn till 2017. However, the capital investment for the financial year 2016-17 was 15 percent high at ₹10.73 bn as compared to ₹9.28 bn of 2015-16. The Delhiites pay the "lowest" power bills among large cities of the country. Around 50 percent of the energy charges are subsidised for domestic consumers consuming up to 400 units by ₹2/kWh per month by the government.

Jhalpi Para village in Chhattisgarh’s Balrampur district got electricity connection for the first time. The region was deprived of power supply since independence. The discontent of residents of the village over the absence of power supply there even while claiming that they received electricity bills regularly. The villagers alleged that there is no electricity connection in the houses but meters have been installed due to which they are receiving electricity bills. In March last year, the Government of India had stated that out of 18,452 villages in India that were power deprived 3 years ago, 17,181 have been electrified.  KSEB has approached the power regulator seeking permission to utilize around ₹1.68 bn for meeting compensation claims of landowners in the Edamon-Kochi sector, where a 400 kV power line is being built for sourcing power from Kudankulam nuclear power station to Madakkathara (Thrissur) substation. The total compensation amount to be distributed has been pegged at ₹47.30 bn. PGCIL, which is building the line, the state government and the KSEB would jointly share the costs. The transmission line, for which work had begun in 2008, hit a series of roadblocks after landowners, especially planters, raised protests. As per the original schedule, Thirunelveli-Madakkatara transmission line was to be completed by 2010. After the failure in meeting the deadline, the KSEB is currently drawing its share of power from Kudankulam through Udumalpetta in Tamil Nadu. The winding line causes heavy transmission loss and a host of practical difficulties to the state power utility. The new line traverses through Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts. The work came to a grinding halt after rubber growers, especially in Kottayam, came up against building the power line over rubber plantation.

UPPCL will get 0.40/kWh cheaper electricity from Prayagraj Power Generation Company’s plant at Bara in Prayagraj district, which will translate into savings to the tune of ₹5 bn annually. An arm of Tata Power-backed Resurgent Power Ventures, Renascent Power Ventures, which has acquired 75.01 percent stake in the Bara power plant, will be offering 40 paise per unit cheaper electricity to UPPCL under revised terms of power purchase agreement. UPPCL is responsible for electricity transmission and distribution within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The revised PPA would also be approved by the state power regulator while disposing off the plea. The average pooled power purchase cost of the UPPCL is around ₹4.40/kWh. The UPERC has also asked UPPCL to explain the benefit that would accrue to consumers, with takeover of the Prayagraj Power Generation Company Ltd by Resurgent Power. Industry experts believe the average pooled power purchase cost is expected to increase in the coming months owing to increase in various taxes and duties during the last three years. Besides, UPPCL would be buying 100 percent power from plant to cater to the upcoming summer power demand surge, which wold further lead to savings for UPCCL.

Bihar State Power Holding Company Ltd will install smart prepaid meters in all the households by August 15 next year. This will result in restrained use of power, besides eliminating the burden of paying electricity bills, while the replacement of the old rickety transmission lines by the new conductors would stop human casualty caused and also prevent power theft. Work regarding installation of separate agriculture feeder and replacement of the existing old electric transmission lines should be completed by 31 December this year. Government subsidy to power consumers during fiscal 2018-19 would be to the tune of ₹50 bn.

In a relief to about 4 mn power consumers, the APERC announced that there will be no hike in electricity tariff for the ensuing financial year 2019-20. It has provided a minor financial relief to the consumers by rounding off the charges to the nearest five paise or 10 paise. This will benefit all categories of consumers. The state has 3.942 million power consumers. The APERC released the Retail Supply Tariff Order for 2019-20. Peak-time TOD charges for industry have been reduced from ₹1.05/kWh to ₹1/kWh. The aggregate revenue requirement and proposal for tariff of the two discoms in the state projected a deficit of ₹ 89.62 bn. However, the APERC estimated the expected deficit to be ₹70.64 bn. Thus, it avoided the possible burden of a further sum of ₹18.98 bn on consumers or the state government. The APERC has also simplified the categories. The existing 16 categories, 51 sub-categories and 25 slabs are now reorganised into 5 categories, 30 sub-categories and 21 slabs. Also, there is no hike in tariff to any category of consumers due to simplification of categories. The APERC has accepted the state government’s proposal for free power to all non-corporate farmers irrespective of their land holdings, type of land and number of connections.

Rest of the World

China offered to help Venezuela restore its power grid, after the current President accused US of cyber “sabotage” that plunged the South American country into its worst blackout on record. With the power blackout in its sixth day, hospitals struggled to keep equipment running, food rotted in the tropical heat and exports from the country’s main oil terminal were shut down. Chinese foreign ministry said China had noted reports that the power grid had gone down due to a hacking attack.

Total annual investment in the off-grid energy access sector surpassed $500 mn in 2018 globally, according to a new report by natural resources consultancy Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, and Energy 4 Impact, a non-profit organisation. Nearly $1.7 bn in cumulative disclosed investment was deployed into energy access markets by the end of 2018, with over $1.2 bn deployed since the beginning of 2016, it said. The report finds that for utility-minded strategic investors like Engie, Shell, EDF, and Total there is strong interest in evolving the utility business model beyond electricity service provision. It said 75 percent of all strategic activity in the off-grid energy access sector is commercial in nature. Of that figure, direct investments and M&A represent nearly 25 percent.

South African state utility Eskom stepped up rolling blackouts as it lost 900 MW of electricity imports from neighbouring Mozambique, which was hit by a cyclone. Eskom, which generates nearly all of the power for Africa’s most industrialised economy, said that it had cut 4,000 MW, double the 2,000 MW it had said would be cut over the weekend after repeated faults at its coal-fired power stations. The situation worsened after a fall in electricity exports from Mozambique, which is cleaning up after a powerful cyclone knocked out communications and electricity pylons.

Britain’s Tempus Energy has lodged a challenge in the EU’s General Court against the European Commission’s approval of a multi-billion euro Polish scheme to pay energy firms to provide back-up power, the company said. Poland last year held its first so-called capacity auction under the scheme aimed at avoiding electricity shortages, awarding contracts to companies such as PGE and Tauron. Tempus Energy was successful last year in a challenge against the European Commission’s approval of Britain’s power capacity market.

Payments under Britain’s scheme have been suspended since the November ruling pending further investigation. Tempus has objected to the schemes saying they amount to subsidies for fossil fuel generators and discriminate against technology designed to cut electricity demand during peak times. Poland generates most of its electricity from coal-fired power plants but aims to reduce it 60 percent in 2030 from around 80 percent now.

French electricity exports to neighbours rose to an all-time high due to warm weather in the country, which curbed consumption, while its power generators were producing at winter capacity, grid operator RTE said. Power exports from France to neighbouring countries - particularly Spain and Italy - reached 17.4 GW. French electricity demand was at 55.2 GW during the same period, equivalent to the typical consumption during a spring break holiday, compared with 74.4 GW demand a year ago. The RTE said exceptionally warm weather in France - with temperatures up over 3 degrees Celsius above the seasonal level - was the reason for that low demand. France remains a net power exporter in Europe, mostly thanks to its 58 nuclear reactors that account for over 75 percent of its electricity needs.

French energy market regulator CRE said that it had approved daily rules for access to the France-England high-voltage electricity interconnector which would come into force in case Britain were to leave the EU without a deal. The regulator CRE said daily auctions would be held from 31 March 2019 delivery, to allocate capacity for the France-England power interconnector. CRE had previously said that it was preparing a mechanism which would allow continuity in day-ahead electricity auctions between Britain and France in case there is no deal for Britain to leave the EU on 29 March.

Oman has received 25 expressions of interest from investors interested in buying stakes in two electricity companies under a privatisation plan aimed at boosting state coffers. Nama Group, a government holding company, plans to sell a 70 percent stake in Muscat Electricity Distribution and 49 percent of Oman Electricity Transmission. The firms have combined assets worth $3.2 bn. Nama said that it had received 14 offers for Muscat Electricity Distribution and 11 bids for Oman Electricity Transmission. It said that three other power distribution companies would be privatised in the second half of next year.

A 7 percent tax on Spanish power generation that received a six-month suspension in October will be reinstated after the government ruled out an extension of the waiver, the government said. Market participants differed on the impact of the reinstatement, with some saying it had already been priced into forward contracts, while others expected prices to jump.

The Texas power grid operator warned that projected record demand for electricity and tight reserves this summer could result in an increased chance of alerts calling on customers to conserve energy. At the same time, oil and natural gas developers are consuming rising amounts of power to run their West Texas operations, power companies are delaying or cancelling planned generation facilities and retiring existing plants because power prices are not high enough to support more projects. The ERCOT, the grid operator, forecast the system should have 78,154 MW of capacity this summer to meet a forecast peak demand of 74,853 MW. The current all-time high is 73,473 MW set on 19 July 2018. ERCOT said its current planning reserve margin is a historically low 7.4 percent. The reserve margin is the difference between total generation available and forecast peak demand, with the difference expressed as a percentage of peak demand. ERCOT manages the grid for more than 25 mn Texas customers, representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. Some of the biggest power companies with operations in Texas include units of Sempra Energy, CenterPoint Energy Inc, American Electric Power Co Inc, NRG Energy Inc and Vistra Energy Inc.

The International Finance Corp, a member of the World Bank Group, said it had arranged $202 mn of debt finance and a guarantee package for the construction of a 250 MW power plant in Armenia. The combined-cycle gas turbine power plant, which is aimed at producing up to 2,000 gigawatt hours annually, will be built in the south of the capital Yerevan. The plant will help to increase efficiency for gas-fired electricity generation and ensure a reliable power supply in the former Soviet country, which relies on ageing low-efficiency thermal power plants. Two-thirds of Armenia’s electricity comes from imported fuel.

Zambia and Zimbabwe reduced power generation to around half capacity at their power stations at the Kariba Dam as water levels in the reservoir fell, Zambia’s state-owned ZESCO Ltd said. ZESCO said power generation on both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides had been restricted to 500 MW each from total capacities of around 1,000 MW.

Indonesia state electricity utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) targeted an additional 4,000 MW capacity from new power plants this year. Most of the power plants will be coal-fired while others are gas-fired or renewable energy power plants. Meanwhile, national energy demand is expected to grow by 6 percent in 2019, accelerating slightly from 5.15 percent growth in 2018. The Indonesian government projected that the country’s electricity demand will grow by an average 6.42 percent every year in 2019-2028.

RBI: Reserve Bank of India, MW: megawatt, GW: gigawatt, HLEC: High-Level Empowered Committee, discoms: distribution companies, mn: million, bn: billion, PPAs: power purchase agreements, CCEA: Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CIL: Coal India Ltd, CERC: Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, FY: Financial Year, IEX: Indian Energy Exchange, NLDC: National Load Dispatch Centre, CEA: Central Electricity Authority, kV: kilovolt, km: kilometre, kWh: kilowatt hour, DAM : day-ahead market, TAM: term ahead-market,  MU: million units, MVA: megavolt-ampere, NCT: National Committee on Transmission, KSEB: Kerala State Electricity Board, PGCIL: Power Grid Corp of India Ltd, UPPCL: Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd, UPERC: Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission, APERC: Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission, TOD: Time of Day, US: United States, EU: European Union, ERCOT: Electric Reliability Council of Texas


India records lowest crude oil production in nine years

26 March. India produced 31,349 thousand metric tonne (tmt) of crude oil in the first eleven months (April-February) of the current financial year (2018-2019), the lowest output recorded in the past nine years during the same period, according to fresh data sourced from the oil ministry. The declining trend in the country’s domestic crude oil production is coming at a time when the country’s oil import bill has already ballooned 29 percent to $102.9 bn during the April-February period of the current fiscal. Also, the decline in domestic crude oil production has pushed India’s oil import dependence to 83.8 percent, the highest recorded in the April-February period in the last five years for which data is publicly available. The government had earlier said it is working towards a plan to reduce the country’s crude oil import dependence by 10 percent by 2022. India’s crude oil production in February 2019 declined 6.4 percent to 2,564 tmt, as compared to 2,731 tmt produced in the corresponding month a year ago, primarily due to fall in production from fields operated by Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), private players and fields operated under a Joint Venture, data showed. Cumulatively India’s crude oil production in April-February period declined 4 percent to 31,349 tmt, as compared to 32,643 tmt recorded in the corresponding period a year ago. India’s oil production has declined over the past nine years mainly due to ageing fields leading to fall in output from nearly all the offshore and onshore blocks, data shows. ONGC’s crude oil production during February 2019 declined 5 percent to 1,599 tmt mainly due to decreased production from Western Offshore fields. Cumulatively, the firm’s oil production during the first 11 months of the current fiscal dropped 5.38 percent to 19,274 tmt. Oil India’ crude oil production during February 2019 declined 6.45 percent to 244 tmt mainly due to fall in production from Assam fields. Cumulatively, the company’s oil output during the April-February period declined 3 percent to 3,015 tmt.

Source: The Economic Times

Nayara Energy operationalizes rail-fed oil depot in Maharashtra

26 March. Nayara Energy, integrated downstream oil company, said it has operationalised its rail-fed Petroleum Oil Lubricant (POL) depot at Wardha in Maharashtra. According to the company, the depot, spread over 50 acres, has a capacity of handling over 16,000 kilolitres of oil products, which will be supplied from the company’s refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat. The company which is called Nayara Energy post-acquisition, owns India’s second largest single site refinery at Vadinar, Gujarat with a current capacity of 20 million tonnes per annum. Also, the company has over 5,000 retail outlets across the country.

Source: The Economic Times

RIL sends fuel from India, Europe to Venezuela to sidestep US sanctions

22 March. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is selling fuels to Venezuela from India and Europe to sidestep sanctions that bar US (United States)-based companies from dealing with state-run PDVSA. RIL had been supplying alkylate, diluent naphtha and other fuel to Venezuela through its US-based subsidiary before Washington in late January imposed sanctions aimed at curbing the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) member’s oil exports and ousting Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. At least three vessels chartered by the Indian conglomerate supplied refined products to Venezuela in recent weeks, and another vessel carrying gasoil is expected to set sail to the South American nation as well. RIL has significant exposure to the financial system of the US, where it operates subsidiaries linked to its oil and telecom businesses, among others.

Source: Reuters

Mohali petrol pumps lose 18 percent diesel sales to Chandigarh

20 March. Petrol stations in Mohali have seen an 18 percent dip in sale of diesel even as those in Chandigarh have seen a 45 percent surge in the past five months. As far as petrol sales are concerned, Chandigarh petrol pumps registered a 17 percent rise in petrol sales as compared to that in Mohali, which saw no change in sales of petrol. The Petrol Pump Dealers Association in Mohali alleged that a continuous drop in VAT (Value Added Tax) rates by the Chandigarh administration from October 2017 resulted in a complete shift of petroleum trade from bordering districts of Punjab to Chandigarh. Ashwinder Singh Mongia, president of the Petrol Pump Dealers Association, Mohali, said it was abundantly clear that Chandigarh had seen a growth of 44.47 percent in diesel sales and 16.91 percent in those of petrol from October 2018 to February 2019. Mohali on the other hand has lost 17.63 percent sales of diesel and has remained more or less static as far as petrol sales are concerned.

Source: The Economic Times


Regulator drops plan to force LNG terminals to reserve share for common use

26 March. The downstream regulator has scrapped its plan to force LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals to reserve a share of their capacity for common use after industry opposed the move arguing the proposal was premature and would hurt local gas demand. In March 2018, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) had published a draft regulation for LNG terminals in the country, requiring them to register with the board, follow certain safety standards and, most contentiously, offer some common carrier capacity. The draft provoked strong reaction from industry players, who felt proposed rules could upset the economics of LNG terminals as they may have to make additional investment for the capacity that will have to be reserved for common use. India has added about 10 million tonnes (mt) a year LNG regasification capacity in the past six months to about 37 mt. This is expected to rise to 50 mt a year by 2022. The capacity explosion and the government’s aim to push up gas usage in India’s primary energy mix to 15 percent from 6 percent had triggered temptation to regulate LNG terminals.

Source: The Economic Times

Essar to start shale activity in Raniganj by drilling 20 pilot wells

23 March. To explore shale gas reserves in the region, Essar Oil & Gas Exploration and Production (EOGEP) plans to drill two pilot wells in the Raniganj coal-bed methane (CBM) block by the end of 2019. The number of wells will later be increased to 20 at an investment of Rs5.51 bn. The exploratory arm of Essar Group has already received the environmental clearance for 20 wells. According to estimates, the Raniganj CBM block has a potential shale reserve of 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, and a recoverable potential of 1.6 tcf. To establish the shale potential in the Raniganj Coalfield block on an urgent basis, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has requested all operators in the region – Oil and Natural Gas Corp, Great Eastern Energy Corp, Essar and Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research to collaborate and establish a synergy in shale development, EOGEP said. Exploration of shale gas and development of CBM blocks have a potential to produce 8.5 million metric standard cubic metre per day (mmscmd) of gas from five-six CBM blocks in India.

Source: The Financial Express

Change in gas allocation policy key risk to profitability of city gas entities: ICRA

22 March. With softer gas prices propping up CNG (compressed natural gas) and piped cooking gas consumption, city gas distribution (CGD) entities will continue to see robust margins but any adverse change in the policy of gas allocation is a key risk for the industry's profitability, ratings agency ICRA said. The volume consumption of CNG by automobiles and piped natural gas (PNG) in domestic kitchens has been witnessing an increasing trend, supported by softer gas prices in the last 2-3 years, ICRA said it has prepared on the domestic CGD sector. Currently, CGD entities get first priority in the allocation of cheap domestically produced natural gas. According to ICRA, CGD projects are exposed to large execution risks and the construction period involved is long and needs a host of approval from multiple agencies. ICRA said most existing CGD players enjoy strong parentage, track-record and have high financial flexibility.

Source: Business Standard


Government reduces its holding in CIL to 72.33 percent in FY19

25 March. The government has pared its holding in Coal India Ltd (CIL) to 72.33 percent in the current financial year from 78.5 percent in 2017-18. Following the recent buy back of 0.72 percent of shares, the promoters (government) holding is now at 72.33 percent, the company said. In the 2018-19 financial year, the government has received in excess of Rs180 bn by twin dividends and stake sale by various modes like public offer and ETFs. During the last financial year, the total payout to government was around Rs100 bn, without any stake sale.

Source: Business Standard


Unitech sells power transmission business to Sterling and Wilson

26 March. Crisis-hit realty firm Unitech Ltd said the company has sold its power transmission business to Sterling and Wilson. Unitech Power Transmission is engaged in the business of manufacturing and installation of power transmission lines. Unitech said it has entered into a share purchase agreement with Sterling and Wilson Pvt Ltd to sell entire issued and paid-up share capital of Unitech Power Transmission Ltd. After the completion of this transaction, Unitech Power Transmission Ltd will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Shapoorji Pallonji-promoted Sterling and Wilson Pvt Ltd.

Source: Business Standard

Over 4k poll booths under DVVNL in UP remain in darkness

22 March. With less than a month left in the first and second phase of Lok Sabha polls on 11 and 18 April respectively, state government-owned distribution company (discom) – Dakshinanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd (DVVNL) - has finally swung into action. There is urgent need of power supply in over 4,000 polling booths in eight districts, including Agra. Incidentally, the state government had given directions for providing electricity at polling booths in February. However, there was hardly any action on the ground. DVVNL is responsible for power supply in 21 districts of UP (Uttar Pradesh). Out of these, report concerning arrangement of power supply in polling booths has been complied by eight districts. Managing director of the discom, S K Verma, has directed superintendent engineers of other districts to coordinate with the primary education department and send the report without any further delay. According to reports from the eight districts, the booths have no power connection yet. Surprisingly, 48 polling booths in the home district of power minister Shrikant Sharma are in darkness. In Agra, 1,100 polling booths are in a similar condition. Besides, similar condition persists in 1,185 booths in Farrukhabad district, 656 in Jaluan, 391 in Etah, 338 in Mahoba, 212 in Kanpur (rural), 78 in Jhansi and 23 in Hamirpur. The report said that a majority of the polling booths without power supply are actually government-run primary schools. A large number of schools in every district have power connection only on paper. There are no cables and power meter installed in these places.

Source: The Economic Times

Private power players want Trade Receivables Discount System

21 March. The privately owned power generating companies which are reeling under escalating dues because of pending payment from states and litigation, have asked the power ministry to set up a ‘Trade Receivables Discount System’ for the same. The total pending dues of the power distribution companies (discoms) stand at Rs412.40 bn as on January 2019. Of this, Rs172.46 bn is dues from sale of power, Rs68.65 bn are projects wanting compensation for change in law and Rs171.28 bn arising out of several other litigation. In a letter written to the power ministry, Association of Power Producers (APP) said the delay in recovery of receivables, especially regulatory receivables, has created stress on the finances of private generators. APP is the representative body for private power generators.

Source: Business Standard

Surat airport authorities wake up to power capacity enhancement

21 March. Surat airport authorities have written to Gujarat Government for taking up immediate enhancement of electricity capacity keeping in mind proposed extension of terminal building. Electricity to Surat airport is supplied by Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Ltd (DGVCL). Earlier, power consumption at airport was less due to operation of one or two flights in a day. However, power consumption at the airport has increased three fold with operation of 27 flights in a day and increase in passenger traffic from 20,000 to more than 1.45 lakh. Since 2006 till date, Gujarat Government has borne Rs160 mn payment on account of the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for supplying free electricity to airport, with a condition that such facility will cease once the airport gets developed. Now Surat airport has started handling international flights with 24 hours activity as well, so power consumption need has also increased exponentially.

Source: The Economic Times


Work on Badradri thermal plant on schedule, project to be ready by year-end

25 March. The boiler of the first unit of the 4x270 MW (1080 MW) Badradri Thermal Power Station (BTPS) has been lit up, which is a major step towards commissioning the greenfield coal-fired thermal unit in Telangana. Construction works of the BTPS in Manuguru mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district, has been taken up at a capital outlay of Rs78.57 bn. This is the second greenfield project started after the formation of Telangana state in 2014. The State Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao laid the foundation stone for the project.

Source: The Hindu Business L ine

Chandigarh administration to use social media to encourage residents to install solar plants

23 March. As the UT (Union Territory) administration extended its deadline to install solar plants till 30 June, the Chandigarh Renewal Energy, Science and Technology Promotion Society (CREST) has planned to spread awareness through different social media platforms to encourage residents to install solar panels. CREST, the nodal agency for installation of solar plants in Chandigarh, had recently proposed to extend deadline to install solar plants by six months. Though the deadline for installing rooftop solar power plants at residential properties in Chandigarh expired on 17 November, the CREST had decided to continue accepting applications. The administration, in a notification issued on 18 May 2016, had made installation of rooftop solar power plants mandatory in residential houses measuring 500 square yards and above and group housing societies. There are around 10,000 such houses in different parts of the city, including sectors 8 (417 houses), 11 (493 houses), 33 (643 houses), 35 (419 houses) and 36 (417 houses). Till date, only 50 percent of the residential properties have installed solar plants. Earlier, the deadline was set for 6 May last year, but was later extended to 17 November 2018. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) had enhanced the city’s solar power generation target from 50 MW to 69 MW, to be achieved by 2022, through net and gross metering. Local authorities are struggling to meet the target due to shortage of space in the city, which is spread in an area of just 114 square kilometre. CREST has only managed to install a solar power plant with a capacity of 24 MW in the past six years. It will have to ensure generation of 45 MW within four years to meet the target under the model solar city project.

Source: The Economic Times

Andhra Pradesh asks power discoms not to back out of green PPAs

21 March. The Andhra Pradesh government has directed state-run power distribution companies (discoms) to honour contracts signed with renewable energy developers, offering relief to generators at a time when several clean energy buyers are backing out of agreements and seeking lower tariffs. Andhra Pradesh, one of the leading states in using renewable energy, has more than 7,000 MW of solar and wind projects and aims to take it to 18,000 MW by 2021-22. Tariffs have dropped sharply at wind project auctions over the last two years, and discoms that had signed PPAs (power purchase agreements) earlier are now seeking renegotiation to lock in lower rates. Earlier this year, state utilities of Andhra Pradesh had moved a petition before the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) seeking consent for revisiting PPAs already signed with wind developers.

Source: The Economic Times

Modifications in solar parks scheme may raise project costs for developers

21 March. The modifications in the ‘Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Project’ scheme, released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), will lead to increase in project costs, according to solar industry players. The new guidance could lead to additional cost of ₹200 mn for each 100 MW solar capacity built in a solar park. The annual impact per 1 MW could be in the range of ₹40,000-80,000 considering the modifications required by developers to add ₹0.02 per unit to the tariff as facilitation charge towards the State governments and another ₹0.02 per unit as charges for payment security mechanism when bidding for capacities in solar parks. Industry experts said the proposed modifications are likely to complicate the process of setting up projects in solar parks as well as squeeze the already thin margins of the developers. The MNRE had issued an official memorandum suggesting a new mode for developing solar, wind or hybrid parks in order to address the two most critical issues for developers — land allocation and developing power evacuation infrastructure. Under the new mode (Mode-7) introduced by MNRE for renewable energy parks developed through Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI), the developers will be required to pay State government a facilitation charge of ₹0.02 ($0.029) per unit of power generated from the projects for facilitating the identification of land and making its right of use available to SECI.

Source: The Hindu Business L ine

NTPC’s Karsada plant in Varanasi achieves full generation capacity

20 March. NTPC Ltd said its 200 kilowatt waste-to-energy plant in Karsada has achieved full generation capacity. The plant is located in Karsada at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (UP). The project, NTPC said, is in line with the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission, promoting a healthy environment through proper waste utilisation. The compost created as a by-product is also sold as organic fertilisers to the farmers, it said. NTPC has already signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Purvanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd of UP for evacuation of electric power generated at this waste-to-energy plant.

Source: Business Standard


Amazonian residents seize PetroTal’s oil installations in Peru

26 March. Residents of a remote Amazonian region seized a small oil installation operated by Canadian energy company PetroTal Corp to demand electricity and other government services. The latest protest to target oil and mining operations in Peru in recent months has sparked calls for the government of President Martin Vizcarra to take steps to prevent the incidents, which risk deterring investment in the country. Production from PetroTal’s Block 95 halted after about 70 residents of the village of Brena in the Amazonian region Loreto took control of its installations, Peruvian Society of Hydrocarbons (SPH) said. Peru, a major minerals exporter but a relatively small oil producer, is rife with conflicts, especially in places where international companies operate alongside poor communities that lack basic services. Block 95 has produced about 2,000 barrels of oil per day since it started operating in June of last year, according to PetroTal.

Source: Reuters

Iran’s crude oil pipelines undamaged by heavy rain and flooding

26 March. Iran’s crude oil pipelines have not been damaged by flooding in recent days and the transfer of oil is taking place normally, Abbasali Jafarinasab, the director of the Iranian Oil Pipeline and Telecommunication Company, said.

Source: Reuters

Global commodities trader Trafigura sees oil price rising to $70s a barrel in 2020

25 March. Global commodities trader Trafigura Group sees Brent oil staying around current levels, about $66-$67 a barrel, or slightly higher for the rest of the year, and rising to the $70s in 2020, its co-head of oil trading Ben Luckock said. After the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iranian oil in November, Washington then issued waivers to a number of key importers. Luckock warned that several factors could still throw predictions off balance such as whether Iranian waivers are renewed and the stability of Libyan and Venezuelan output. Trafigura’s chief economist Saad Rahim said the Geneva-based firm expected a tighter market in the second half of the year but gains would be capped by weaker macro indices. Looking ahead to next year when a new, lower sulfur cap on shipping fuels is due to take effect, Trafigura’s chief economist Saad Rahim expects a deficit in diesel capacity of around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd), which could be met by China. The new rules imposed by the International Maritime Organization mean that shippers cannot use fuel with a higher sulfur content than 0.5 percent unless the vessel installs a sulfur filter, known as a scrubber. As a result, demand for high sulfur fuel oil, the main fuel on ships, is expected to drop sharply in favor of diesel and very low sulfur fuel oil, a new type of fuel that is starting to be produced in various different blends. Trafigura expects 25 out of the 35 new crude and product tankers that it has leased to be delivered by end of the first quarter.

Source: Reuters

US oil prices rise above $60 a barrel on tightening supply

20 March. US (United States) crude prices rose to a four-month high above $60 a barrel after US government data showed tightening domestic oil supplies, but gains were capped by concerns over global economic growth due to the ongoing US-China trade war. International Brent crude rose 89 cents, or 1.32 percent, to settle at $68.50 a barrel. Prices rose after the US Energy Information Administration posted a large and unexpected drop in crude inventories due to strong export and refining demand. Rating agency S&P Global raised its Brent oil price assumptions back up to $60 a barrel, on the back of the production cuts by OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and Russia. However, an eight-month trade war between China and the US has worried global markets already concerned by signs of a slowdown in economic growth this year.

Source: Reuters

'Japan refiners unlikely to import Iranian oil from April'

20 March. Japanese refiners will unlikely continue to import oil from Iran from April unless Japan gets a sanctions waivers extension from the US (United States) government, Takashi Tsukioka, president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), said. Tsukioka said he believes the government is negotiating with the US to get such a waiver and that PAJ would support this effort. Japanese refiners have been asking the government to seek an extension of the US sanctions waivers after the initial 180-day exemption period is over in early May.

Source: Reuters


Brazil’s Petrobras fines Bolivia for failing to meet LNG deliveries

26 March. Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras (Petroleo Brasileiro SA) has fined Bolivia’s state oil company YPFB after it failed to deliver liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes secured under a contract through the Bolivia-Brazil pipeline during 2018. Marcelo Cruz, the executive manager of gas and energy at Petrobras, said the fine, paid, was aimed at offsetting possible losses for Petrobras, which ends up having to compensate the volumes from other sources. Cruz said YPFB had not been able to deliver the volumes Petrobras needed due to a reduction of exploratory investments in recent years, which had led to a drop in production. Last year, Petrobras demanded an average of 26 mn cubic meters per day of natural gas, while YPFB delivered 22.6 mn. Due to Bolivia’s difficulties, Cruz said companies are negotiating a possible revision of the volume of gas contracted.

Source: Reuters

Nord Stream 2 upbeat Denmark will approve gas pipeline proposal

25 March. The Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline company expects to receive approval from Danish authorities for a 180 kilometre (km) stretch of the pipeline under the Baltic Sea in time to finish the pipeline by the end of 2019 as planned. The pipeline, which would carry gas straight to Germany under the Baltic Sea, has also been criticized in some quarters because it would deprive Ukraine of lucrative gas transit fees. Four countries - Finland, Sweden, Germany and Russia - have approved the pipeline’s construction, but Denmark has been holding out. Nord Stream 2 in August 2018 proposed an alternate route that would route the pipeline through Danish exclusive economic zone waters, but avoid its territorial waters.

Source: Reuters

China’s Sinopec to develop new shale gas field at Weirong in Sichuan

25 March. Sinopec Corp, China’s biggest shale gas operator, said it plans to develop a new field this year able to produce 1 billion cubic meters (bcm) of shale gas annually. The company said the field will tap a proven reserve equivalent to 124.7 bcm of gas at Weirong in the southwestern province of Sichuan. This marks its second major shale gas discovery after a flagship development at Fuling in the Chongqing region, situated in the same geological basin of Sichuan. The company is drilling for shale gas in a 20,000 square kilometre area in southern Sichuan, as well as western Chongqing. It earlier set a target to produce 10 bcm per year of shale gas by 2020. China’s shale gas output accounts for only a small part of the country’s total gas production, at about 6 percent. Separately, Sinopec reported high volumes of gas flows in an exploration well Dongye-1 in the Dingshan-Dongxi block, close to Chongqing.

Source: Reuters

Turkey plans to import more Iranian gas

25 March. Turkey plans to increase imports of Iran’s natural gas, the head of Iran’s National Gas Company (IGC), Hassan Montazer Torbati, said. Based on previous agreements, Iran is currently increasing gas exports to a number of countries including Turkey, Iraq, Armenia and Azerbaijan, he said.

Source: Reuters

Israel’s Delek exploring partnership with Egypt LNG plants

24 March. Israel’s Delek Drilling said it was exploring options to boost natural gas exports to Egypt, including the possibility of buying into a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the northern Egyptian coast. Delek is a partner in offshore gas fields in Israel and Cyprus and has already signed export deals to Egypt.

Source: Reuters

'Brazil to present plan to overhaul natural gas sector by June'

21 March. Brazil Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque said that the government will present a program for overhauling the natural gas sector by June, a move aimed at lowering energy costs in the country. The program will be called the “New Gas Market” and is separate from the “Gas for Growth” program pursued under previous President Michel Temer, Albuquerque said. Albuquerque said it was difficult to quantify the potential impact and he didn’t know if the policy would achieve that 50 percent reduction. The plan will include ensuring there is infrastructure in place for the sectors that use natural gas, he said. The effort will require working with state governments to end monopolies of regional state-owned gas distributors, he said.

Source: Reuters

Asian, European LNG prices crash below $5 on oversupply

21 March. Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) broke below the $5 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu) mark following a 13-week price slide that reflects the absence of growth in demand or any major outages. Spot prices for May delivery to Northeast Asia dropped 80 cents to $4.65 per mmBtu according to traders although there were few actual transactions with Asia’s biggest buyers, Japan, Korea or China. Asian LNG spot prices are now at their lowest level since May 2016 and close to the lowest point in Refinitiv records going back to 2010 of $4.00 per mmBtu, which was reached in April 2016. The market has been inundated with supplies coming onstream from the United States, Russia and Australia. In addition Egypt, which has had to import LNG in previous years due to gas shortages, has started to ramp up its exports.

Source: Reuters

'Hungary to buy 2020 gas supplies early from Russia'

21 March. Hungary has struck an agreement with Gazprom to buy and store its 2020 gas supplies earlier than usual this year to offset the risk of Russia failing to agree transit terms with Ukraine. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary would continue to receive supplies from Austrian pipelines, which carry Russian gas piped through other routes. Hungary’s recently expanded 6.3 billion cubic meters (bcm) storage capacity can guarantee safe supply through 2020, Szijjarto said. Gas supplier Russia and Ukraine, which have been embroiled in conflict over breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east, postponed gas talks in January until May. Their transit deal expires this year and there is a risk that Russia will be unable to supply gas to Europe at all through Ukraine from 2020, Szijjarto said.

Source: Reuters


China’s February coking coal imports from Australia fall 21 percent

25 March. China’s coking coal imports from Australia in February slumped 21 percent from a year earlier as lengthy customs checks on Australian cargoes at several ports delayed their arrival into the country. Australian imports were at 1.16 million tonnes (mt) last month, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs, compared to 1.47 mt in February 2018. For the first two months of 2019, Australian coal imports rose 27 percent from the same period a year earlier, to 5.49 mt, according to the customs data. That reflected a flurry of shipments being accepted in January after being subject to customs clearance delays in December. Imports of Mongolian coking coal jumped 47 percent to 1.43 mt in February from a year earlier, as Chinese buyers shifted to alternative suppliers, the data showed. Arrivals from Russia, however, fell 31 percent from February last year to 191,966 tonnes.

Source: Reuters

Coal deal showcases lack of transparency in Ukraine

25 March. Ukrainian police are investigating two companies and a factory over a coal deal which some anti-corruption campaigners say epitomizes the difficulties of doing business in the east European country. The sums involved in the deal are small but the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, an independent watchdog, said it illustrates the lack of transparency in Ukrainian business, an issue in a presidential election that has cost President Petro Poroshenko support. State-run coal company Volynvuhillia ordered the Novovolynska-9 mine it oversees in Novovolynsk, northwestern Ukraine, to sell coal to privately held Ukrainskiy Natsionalniy Product (UNP), company documents show. A contract was agreed in December 2017 and sales began two months later. Volodymyr Yurkiv, the mine’s director at the time, said he complained to the energy ministry about the contract because it allowed UNP to pay eight percent less for its coal than the minimum price set by the ministry for private buyers. Asked about the sales contract with UNP, Andriy Pylypiuk, acting manager of Volynvuhillia, said the coal purchase price in the original contract was an error that was corrected after the deal and that UNP quickly started paying more for its coal. Pylypiuk said his company supported selling to UNP because no other firm wanted to buy coal from Novovolynska-9 and that UNP had offered to pay up front. A second police investigation is underway into an arrangement under which Volynvuhillia pays a local factory to enrich, or clean, the coal sold to UNP.

Source: Reuters


Turkey’s licensed power generation falls 2.49 percent in January

26 March. Turkey’s licensed electricity production decreased by 2.49 percent in January compared to the same month of 2018. Total production fell to approximately 25.62 mn kWh (kilowatt hour) from around 26.28 mn kWh in January 2018, Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) announced in its electricity market report for January 2019. Turkey mainly produced 21.40 percent of its electricity from natural gas, 21.34 percent from hydropower plants, 19.98 percent from imported coal, 13.99 percent from lignite. Turkey's installed electricity capacity was up 2.04 percent in January on a yearly basis.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Australia to back 12 power projects to boost supply as election looms

26 March. Australia picked a dozen power projects, including natural gas, pumped hydropower and one coal-fired plant, to receive backing under the sitting government’s program to increase power supply and bring down energy prices. The announcement came a week ahead of the government’s final budget and a national election due in May, where soaring power prices and the transition to cleaner energy are expected to be major issues. The 12 projects, which would add 3,818 MW of new power, were culled from 66 that applied for assistance under the government’s plan to underwrite new generation, according to the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The underwriting program, first proposed in December after the government last August scrapped a more comprehensive energy plan, aims to beef up firm power supply to back up renewables and drive down wholesale power prices by up to 30 percent by 2021. The government said it rejected applications from the country’s biggest generators and energy retailers as it is seeking to boost competition in the power market. At the same time, Morrison committed A$10 mn ($7 mn) to study power supply options to support heavy industries in Queensland, the government statement said.

Source: Reuters

French power price hike plan against clients' interest

25 March. France’s competition authority said a planned increase in regulated power tariffs proposed by energy regulator CRE was not in consumers’ interest and asked the regulator to reconsider its recommendation. In January, the CRE proposed to increase state-controlled utility EDF’s regulated power tariffs by 7.7 percent excluding taxes (5.9 percent tax included), which would be the highest increase in years. France’s Autorite de la Concurrence said the CRE proposal was unfavorable for the 28 million clients on regulated tariffs because about 40 percent of the proposed increase did not correspond to an increase of EDF’s costs but was rather aimed at allowing EDF’s smaller competitors to propose prices similar to or below regulated tariffs. The antitrust body said France needed more power market regulation in order to boost competition and that the ARENH mechanism that gives EDF competitors access to nuclear energy production was in urgent need of reform.

Source: Reuters

Sri Lanka’s drought, failure to raise power capacity force nationwide power cuts

25 March. Sri Lanka’s state-run power firm has imposed daily power cuts for the first time in more than two years as a drought has slashed hydro power output, highlighting the government’s failure to build new power plants. The drought has cut the hydro power generation in half to 15 percent of the nation’s total electricity production as the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) seeks to save water for household and irrigation requirements, the firm said. If the power cuts are extended for any length of time they could hurt Sri Lanka’s already weak economy. Sri Lanka’s peak demand is 2,400 MW and the country is generating 1,950 MW at the moment, CEB said. The power cuts come after delays in power plant projects.

Source: Reuters

Vietnam hikes retail electricity prices by 8.36 percent

20 March. Vietnam has raised its retail electricity prices by 8.36 percent to an average of 1,864.4 dong ($0.0804) per kilowatt hour, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said. An increase in electricity prices may put upward pressure on inflation, but may also help the Southeast Asian country attract private investment to develop the additional power plants that are needed to support its fast-growing economy. Electricity prices in Vietnam are controlled by the government.

Source: Reuters


Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018: IEA

26 March. Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased, mainly in Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. Energy-related CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions rose by 1.7 percent to 33.1 billion tonnes from the previous year, the highest rate of growth since 2013, with the power sector accounting for almost two-thirds of this growth, according to IEA estimates. The United States’ CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China’s emissions rose by 2.5 percent and India’s by 4.5 percent. Europe’s emissions fell by 1.3 percent and Japan’s fell for the fifth year running. Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of global average temperature rise which countries are seeking to curb to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change. For the first time, the IEA assessed the impact of fossil fuel use on the increase in global temperature and found that CO2 emitted from coal consumption was responsible for over 0.3 degrees Celsius of the 1 degree rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial times.

Source: Reuters

New hydro power projects in the Amazon possible: Brazil

25 March. The Brazilian government would be open to evaluating new hydro power projects in the Amazon region on their merits, as the administration shrugs off “ideological” interference in the licensing process, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said. Salles said environmental agency Ibama is in charge of assessing such projects and the risks associated with them, and it will do so on a strictly technical basis. Salles said Ibama’s work is to gauge the benefits and risks of each project and at the end of the analysis decide if there are any measures that can be imposed to mitigate the risk, allowing a project to go ahead. Salles recognized the Amazon “is a sensitive” region because of its biodiversity, noting construction of hydro power projects there is not the same as in other regions of the country.

Source: Reuters

US finalizes $3.7 bn loan for Vogtle nuclear power plant

22 March. The US (United States) Energy Department finalized up to $3.7 bn in loan guarantees to finance the construction of units at the delayed and over budget Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. Up to $1.67 bn will go to Georgia Power company, a subsidiary of Southern company, up to $1.6 bn will go to Oglethorpe Power Corp, and up to $415 mn will go to three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

Source: Reuters

France’s EDF in race to convert Cordemais plant from coal to biomass

22 March. French utility EDF aims to convert its 1,200 MW Cordemais coal-fired power plant by spring 2022 into one that burns pellet fuel made from discarded wood, giving the unit a new lease of life. In its long-term energy plan, France has laid out moves to phase out electricity generation from coal by 2022, with the goal of decarbonizing energy production by 2050. Cordemais in western France was overhauled two years ago to meet new emissions and safety standards at a cost of several million euros, and could keep operating until 2035, EDF said. Although pellets from wood chips and sawdust are widely used for heating, Eric Bret, EDF’s head of thermal power generation, said the process was different because the company would not cut down any trees. At capacity, it aims to replace around 1.3 million to 2 million tonnes of coal imported annually from Poland, Australia and the United States, with about 700,000 tonnes of biomass.

Source: Reuters


Scenario of Petroleum Subsidies in India

Source: Compiled from Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell

This is a weekly publication of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). It covers current national and international information on energy categorised systematically to add value. The year 2018 is the fifteenth continuous year of publication of the newsletter. The newsletter is registered with the Registrar of News Paper for India under No. DELENG / 2004 / 13485.

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