MonitorsPublished on Aug 06, 2018
Energy News Monitor | Volume XV; Issue 8

Monthly Non-Fossil Fuels News Commentary: July 2018


Investment in India’s renewable energy sector overtook those made in the country’s fossil-fuel based power generation projects for the first time in 2017, Paris-based IEA has said in its World Energy Investment 2018 report. It added the investment case for thermal power generation has grown more uncertain and investments associated with coal plants coming on line in 2017 fell by one-third to under $15 billion. Investments in power projects using coal, gas and oil as a fuel in India was at $16 billion in 2017. China, along with US, Europe and India accounted for nearly two-thirds of global investment in electricity networks in 2017.

India’s trade ministry recommended imposing a 25 percent duty on imports of solar cells and modules from China for one year to try to counter what it sees as a threat to domestic solar equipment manufacturing. Falling prices of solar cells and modules, over 90 percent of which India imports from China, have triggered a decline in the cost of solar power generation and led Indians increasingly to adopt the technology. India plans to make renewable power account for 40 percent of its total installed capacity by 2030, from 20 percent currently. The proposed safeguard duty, which would apply for two years in total to imports from China and Malaysia, would be reduced in the second year to 20 percent for six months and then 15 percent for six months. The proposed duty is less than the 70 percent recommended by Indian authorities in January. The recommendation, contained in a report published by the ministry and to be submitted to the government for approval, is intended to address a serious threat to the domestic solar manufacturing industry from Chinese imports, the directorate general of trade remedies said in the report. Indian solar cell and module manufacturers said cheap Chinese imports were hurting the domestic industry, while Chinese manufacturers say imports are helping India accelerate its renewable energy adoption program.

The government plans to make local manufacturing of equipment a key element in tenders for large solar power projects, even as the country aims to add close to 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. The MNRE plans to design the bids in a way to bring manufacturing into the country while taking care of the interest of small and medium developers. It would be difficult to attract manufacturers with smaller bid sizes. While around 80% of the equipment used in wind power projects are manufactured locally, in the case of solar projects about 90% of the equipment are imported and 85% of which come from China. The cost of solar equipment is expected to fall further after Chinese government recently decided to put brakes on its solar capacity addition. The power ministry, MNRE and the Central Electricity Authority have worked out the country’s installed capacity till 2030. Of the total power requirement of 862 GW, as much as 350 GW will come from solar and another 140 GW will come from wind projects. To reach there, the ministry plans to bid out 30 GW solar and 10 GW wind projects every year till 2028. Solar Energy Corp of India floated a global tender for setting up 5 GW manufacturing capacity linked with Inter-state transmission system-connected solar project for 10 GW aggregate capacity. As part of the tender, developers will be allowed to import polysilicon, but will have to manufacture solar modules locally. The government, however, has not mandated use of locally manufactured solar panels in the project as part of the tender, thereby steering clear of landing into trouble at WTO. Industry experts said that while these tenders look compliant with WTO norms at the outset, they could be potentially challenged, as developers are allowed to bid higher tariffs for the power projects.

Following multiple requests from the industry, the MNRE has extended the timeline for implementation of solar parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects with total capacity of 40 GW by two years, from the initial deadline of FY2020 to FY2022, the MNRE said. The timeline has been extended without any additional financial implication, the Ministry order noted. This new order will provide more time to all parties in the development of solar parks and ultra-mega parks, including agencies responsible for tendering the projects such as SECI and NTPC Ltd and private developers facing challenges with land acquisition and securing power evacuation from the plants. The programme approved by the government in March 2017 aimed at enhancing solar park capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW by setting up at least 50 parks of 500 MW and above by FY20 with the government sanctioning ₹ 81 billion. Projects of around 21,000 MW have already been approved under this programme.

For the first time, coaches on the Indian Railways would be powered by solar energy, with the national transporter retrofitting its passenger trains with flexible solar panels. This will operate fans, light and mobile charging slots on the coaches. Developed by the IROAF, such solar panels were earlier fitted in DEMU trains last year. After the success on these coaches, it was felt that solar energy can also be harnessed in railway’s main line coaches for the comforts of common man. Such fitment of solar panels has started to operate in Sitapur-Delhi Riwari Passenger train. These panels are light weight and easy to fit and most of these panels have been manufactured in India by CEL Ltd. The total weight of solar panel on these coaches is approximately 120 kilogram. Along with generation of electricity, these coaches are also fitted with sensors which will monitor parameters of the solar energy being generated. Out of this, IROAF will undertake the fitment of flexible solar panels in three more passenger trains which face the problem of poor battery charging due to slow running.

Delhi announced the ‘Mukhyanmantri Kisan Aaye Badhotri Solar Yojna’ which aims to increase the income of farmers by three to five times in the national capital. As per the scheme approved by the Delhi Cabinet, maximum of one-third surface area of the agriculture land can be used for installation of solar panels in such a way that agriculture activity is not affected. Present estimated annual income of farmers is ₹ 20,000 to 30,000 per acre per year. Minimum height for installing solar panels will be 3.5 metres to ensure that agriculture activity is not affected. Delhi government’s departments will also buy electricity from companies which have installed solar panels on the agriculture land. At present, departments buy electricity for ₹ 9/kWh, but with this scheme, departments will buy electricity for ₹ 4/kWh due to which government will save ₹ 4 to 5 billion annually.

In order to make rooftop solar power plants more affordable to the people of Uttar Pradesh, the state government has announced an additional subsidy of ₹ 15,000/kw or a maximum of ₹ 300 for installation of solar plants after the Centre announced 30 percent subsidy on the same. To take benefit of this scheme, one has to submit an online application form, which will be available from the website of UPNEDA. Also, the applicant has to take a no objection certificate from a local power distribution company and the UPNEDA. Within one week of the submission of online application, the processing for installation of solar power plant will be initiated. Under the scheme, there is also scope for installation of a common solar power plant of up to 25 percent capacity of the electric transformer in residential areas. Moreover, the UPNEDA— with the help of power department, on orders of the state government— has identified 716 poor families in the district living without electricity. The agency is working on a plan to light by these houses with solar energy.

The DMRC will start getting green power from the Madhya Pradesh-based RUMSL in the next two months, the first project in the country to supply power to an inter-state open access customer. The 750 MW project in Rewa district, spread over an area of 1,590 acres, is among the largest single-site solar power plants in the world. The DMRC had signed a PPA with the RUMSL to get green power from the latter to run its trains in the national capital. DMRC would get around 25 percent of the total power generated by the RUMSL, which would meet around 90 percent power demand of the DMRC. RUMSL has started generating 10 MW power from July 6 this year. DMRC would pay around ₹ 3.67/kWh including the transmission charge. The DMRC is currently buying power at ₹ 7/kWh. The Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company Ltd, which supplies power to the state discoms, will get 76 percent of the power produced from the Rewa solar power plant, while the DMRC will benefit from the remaining 24 percent. RUMSL will go full steam by this year-end. Under the plant, three units of 250 MW each will produce a unit of green energy for less than Rs 3/kWh.

Efforts from state governments such as those of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh to develop floating solar plants might hit the financial-viability hurdle. Companies like JSW Energy have been planning to get into this business, while the Tatas and NTPC have already done pilots. Limited domestic availability of floats, however, is a big challenge. The industry has to depend on European or Chinese suppliers, which is not cost effective. The differential between a ground-mounted and a floating solar project does not make it viable in terms of product pricing, JSW Energy said. The company has plans to set up a combined floating solar capacity of 250 MW across various locations. In June, the Maharashtra government said that it had set up a committee for the development of a floating solar plant. Uttar Pradesh was another state where the process to call for bids to develop a similar solar capacity on the Rihand dam was underway. Floating solar plants are considered an alternate option to tackle land availability issues. The concept involves setting up solar panels on floats placed on dams, lakes and similar water bodies. However, the indigenous production of floats, which substitutes land in a floating solar power set-up, at present, is minimal. In addition to the cost of imported floats, the logistic costs involved in transporting them to India are seen as a bigger challenge. The group is currently consulting Maharashtra’s state power generation company for setting up 250 MW of floating solar capacity. The country is yet to see bids submitted for a floating solar plant from potential power companies. JSW Energy will join the list of power producers like NTPC and Tata Power that have already experimented with floating solar.

In a bid to eliminate indoor pollution caused by cooking, Centre plans to introduce solar cooking facilities with induction oven for every rural household in the next 4-5 years. The Centre has fixed a target to produce 100 GW solar power in the coming years.

IOC is harnessing solar power to make cooking gas refills available to homesteads and security establishments dotting the cold desert of Ladakh – also known as ‘roof of the world’ – in Jammu and Kashmir as India’s largest oil refiner and fuel retailer moves to reduce its carbon footprint. The company has switched its LPG bottling plant at Leh, the headquarters of the country’s largest district by area, from diesel generating set to an on-site 100 kilowatt solar power plant built at cost of over ₹ 10 million. Since the plant needs uninterrupted power all through the year, IOC has been running the plant on generators, burning 45,000 litres of diesel annually. Solar power will help avoid emission and help in air quality management. The construction of the solar power plant was hampered by weather when an avalanche blocked a truck carrying vital parts at Zoji La, the gateway to Ladakh from Srinagar in December last year and remained stuck through the icy winter. The parts were moved once the road opened this year and the plant was built in 45 days. This is the latest in a series of steps IOC has initiated for greening its business. The company has set a target of running 10,000 retail outlets on solar power. IOC already has two other solar-powered retail outlets operating at Choglamsar and the Leh-Manali road in Ladakh region. But both are at a slightly lower altitude than Leh. These outlets operate under extreme weather conditions but solar systems function smoothly as the region gets bright sunlight due to dry weather conditions for the most part of the year.

Solar power tariffs touched ₹ 2.44/kWh once more, the lowest they have ever reached, in the latest 2000 MW auction conducted by SECI. ACME Solar, one of the biggest domestic solar developers, with around 875 MW of commissioned solar projects, won 600 MW with this bid. The tariff had fallen to ₹ 2.44/kWh only once before, in a SECI auction for projects at the Bhadla Solar Park in May 2017, but had been climbing significantly in subsequent auctions, the highest reached being ₹ 2.94 to ₹ 3.54/kWh in an 860 MW auction across different talukas of Karnataka, held by the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd in February this year. Other auctions by Gujarat, Maharashtra and NTPC too have seen winning tariffs of well over ₹ 2.50/kWh. The other winners at the auction were Shapoorji Pallonji, which won 250 MW bidding ₹ 2.52/kWh, along with Azure Power, Hero Solar and Mahindra Susten, all three of which bid ₹ 2.53/kWh. While Azure Power won 600 MW, Hero and Mahindra got 250 MW each. The remaining 50 MW was awarded to Mahoba Solar at ₹ 2.54/kWh. All 2000 MW of projects will be connected directly to the Inter State Transmission System. Solar tariffs had been rising for the past year due to two main reasons – the rising cost of solar panels from China, and the possibility of safeguard duty being imposed on Chinese solar imports ever since domestic manufacturers complained to the Director General, Safeguards that Chinese imports were seriously hurting their industry. However, domestic manufacturers do not have the capacity to meet India’s solar equipment requirements, sparked by its ambitious programme of achieving 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. A decision on safeguard duty is expected shortly. But the trend of rising Chinese panel prices has clearly been dramatically reversed.

Under an ambitious project to manage the biodegradable waste, 10 biomethanation plants will be set up across the city to generate biogas that will generate electricity and enriched organic manure from waste. North corporation will set up four such plants of 5 tonnes per day capacity each. Similarly, south corporation will also set up 4 plants and east Delhi will get two. The overall project for waste management under the corporations has been sanctioned by the ministry of housing and urban affairs, and is being carried out under urban development fund. Each plant is expected to cost around 3 to 5 billion. Corporations will now have to focus on making the residents segregate their waste into dry and wet category. Biomethanation plants are much more compact and could be a solution for waste management in the capital. Around 60% of the waste generated in Delhi falls under the category of wet waste but despite laws making it mandatory, only minimal segregation at household level is taking place. The cities that are leading in waste management have devised strategies like compositing. Kerala’s Alappuzha has focused on biogas model and thousands of homes have constructed biogas plants in their homes, and use it for part of their cooking. Alappuzha now has no landfills — the dump yard for waste is no longer used, and the municipality is now planning to build a sports stadium there.

Karnataka is the new national leader in renewable energy generation, US-based IEEFA said. It has overtaken Tamil Nadu that had long been India’s top renewables market. With a population of more than 60 million, Karnataka has a total of 12.3 GW of renewable capacity installed till March, after having added five GW in 2017-18 alone, it said. IEEFA’s report “Karnataka’s Electricity Sector Transformation”, talks about a trend driven by state and national energy policies that have encouraged less reliance on imported energy and how declining costs have helped build momentum around the uptake of renewables, especially solar. IEEFA conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment.

India’s wind energy sector will offer two million new jobs by 2022 as the country looks to double its overall manufacturing capacity in the wind space in the next four years, Suzlon said. Suzlon has 35 percent share in India’s installed wind capacity. The ₹ 82 billion company has so far supplied 8,503 turbines with a cumulative capacity of 11,919 MW in the Indian market. Pune-based Suzlon delivered 1,100 MW of equipment — including 231 MW of solar — in FY18 and expected its revenues to jump 56 percent to ₹ 130 billion in the fiscal year ending March 2019. Tanti, who is also the chairman of the local industry body Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association, said high margins in exports coupled with an increase in domestic demand would help double the country’s manufacturing capacity from the current 12 GW to 25 GW by 2022. The country’s total installed power generation capacity would have to grow to 850 GW if the GDP grows at a rate of 6 percent. Projects of 7 GW installed capacity have already been bid out, while those of 11 GW are in the pipeline for FY19. India currently has 70 GW of installed renewable energy generation capacity, including 22 GW of solar and 34 GW of wind capacity.

The West Bengal government has taken “a bold stand” on renewable energy by deciding it will not chase the ambitious target set by the centre to generate 5,336 MW of solar power by 2022, experts said. The state currently has an installed capacity to generate 70-80 MW of solar power, which would be ramped up to around 200 MW in a year, West Bengal Green Energy Development Corp said. West Bengal has taken a bold decision at a time when most states are blindly following the centre’s diktat over renewable energy at great risk to their own finances. West Bengal does not have as much arid land as other states such as Rajasthan and Gujarat. So it is almost impossible to set up large solar power plants in West Bengal. As a rule of thumb, it takes 4-5 acres to generate 1 MW of solar power.

The Union power ministry is no longer looking at formulating a new scheme for reviving hydropower projects in the country. The existing policy had involved a financial implication of ₹ 167.09 billion for 40 projects with a capacity of 11,639 MW. This is opposite to the earlier position that the government has had on a scheme for aiding stressed hydropower projects. According to the proposal, all hydropower (irrespective of size) will be categorised as Renewable Energy. Further, the scheme for revival of hydro power sector had provided for a 4 percent interest subvention during the construction period (maximum 7 years) and 3 years post the COD to all hydropower projects above 25 MW. This benefit will be extended for all projects attaining COD for up to 5 years after the notification of this policy. During March this year, in its report tabled in the Parliament, the Standing Committee on Energy had also asked the power ministry to formulate a new hydro power policy.

As India and Bhutan mark 50 years of diplomatic ties this year, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation in the hydropower sector. India is a leading development aid partner for the Himalayan kingdom. New Delhi has set up three hydroelectric projects in Bhutan with a total capacity of 1,416 MW, which are operational. About three fourth of the power generated is exported to India and the rest is used for domestic consumption.

India’s neighbour Bangladesh is exploring the possibility of expanding electricity trade between the two countries using capacity generated from renewable sources. Currently, Bangladesh brings 500 MW through Bheramara-Bherampur inter-connectivity and is readying to bring another 500 MW through the same transmission line. It is also importing 160 MW electricity using Tripura-Comilla interconnection. As Bangladesh aims to provide 100 percent household access to electricity by July 2019, the country is actively growing its generation capacity as well as investing in grid expansions and upgrade. Bangladesh’s installed capacity, including captive plants, currently stands at 18,700 MW, although the highest amount generated so far is 11,000 MW.

Rest of the World

Strong oil prices and a spike in demand has allowed Avril’s biodiesel plants to run at full capacity since June but Argentine imports could force the EU’s largest biodiesel maker to return to part-time work. Europe’s biodiesel industry has been struggling since the EU reduced duties on imports from Argentina last year after Buenos Aires mounted a successful challenge at the WTO. Avril implemented a six-month plan to reduce production at its oilseed processing unit Saipol in March, blaming huge Argentine biodiesel imports for exacerbating poor market conditions. European producers are hoping that the European Commission will implement new taxes on biodiesel imports in September following renewed allegations that Argentina unfairly subsidised its biofuel sector. Avril produced of 1.4 million tonnes of biodiesel in 2017, from a capacity of 1.8 million. Production was expected to fall this year due to the reduced output implemented in March but the recent pick-up should allow it to make up for most of the shortfall. The increase in biodiesel demand was also linked to growing diesel consumption and rising blending mandates in some EU countries.

Imposing a tax would leave 85 percent of the country’s biofuel exports without a viable market and may force suppliers to close shop. The industry had previously avoided EU sanctions by redirecting its biodiesel shipments to other markets. In late 2017, Washington imposed tariffs and stopped Argentine biodiesel imports after similar accusations of subsidies and “dumping.” The EU’s threat has already put a damper on sales to Europe, trimming Argentina’s biodiesel exports to no more than 700,000 tons this year, down from 1.65 million tons shipped in 2017, according to Argentina’s Chamber of Biofuels.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, is offering incentives to developers of a new 100 percent palm oil-based “green diesel”, which the net oil importer hopes can replace costly fuel imports within three years. Biodiesel for land transportation in Indonesia currently consists of a 20 percent bio component that is mixed with petroleum diesel. That component is expected to be raised to 30 percent in 2020. In Indonesia, the bio portion of biodiesel is made with FAME from palm oil, but efforts to increase FAME concentrations in biodiesel have faced resistance from regulators as well as the automotive and oil industries. While biodiesel can cut fuel costs and reduce emissions, higher blends of FAME require special handling and equipment as the fuel has a solvent effect that can corrode engine seals and gasket materials, and it can solidify at cold temperatures. Indonesia has found a new way to produce biodiesel that is not based on FAME that can avoid these problems. A biorefinery owned by Elevance Renewable Sciences and Wilmar International is currently producing “green diesel” in a pilot project, and has been given a corporate tax discount to develop full-scale output. Indonesia’s biodiesel program was already reducing Indonesia’s fuel import demand by $21 million per day. The Indonesia Biofuel Producers Association expects unblended biodiesel exports to reach 800,000 kilolitres this year.

Renewable energy sources satisfied more of Germany’s power demands than coal during the first half of 2018, marking a shift towards clean power as the Bundesrepublik continues to debate how best to phase out coal. According to data released by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) data, wind, solar, hydropower and biogas met 36.3% of Germany’s electricity needs between January and June 2018, while coal provided just 35.1%. Although renewables have hit notable benchmarks in the past, outstripping fossil fuels on certain days or even weeks, this is the first time coal has fallen by the wayside during such a long period of time in Germany. In comparison to the same period in 2017, renewables only met 32.5% in the first six months of last year, with coal generating 38.5%.  The energy minister refused to consider anything above a 32% renewable energy target for 2030, cutting down any hopes that national capitals could be convinced to back the European Parliament’s proposed 35% mark.

A drop in the number of new German wind power projects coming on stream in 2019 and the early 2020s could make it harder to achieve economies of scale and hit investment, according to the country’s VDMA mechanical engineering group. That in turn could jeopardize Germany’s target of producing 65 percent of power from renewable sources by 2030, which is expected to require 20 GW of total offshore wind capacity, four times the current number, VDMA said. Policymakers have recently shifted the industry away from fixed feed-in tariffs towards auctions for new building permits, hitting the profitability of wind power companies. VDMA believes the transition may have been too drastic, leading to a slowdown in new projects already this year. Industry figures show 5.6 GW of capacity were added in the onshore German wind industry last year, while that figure could fall to 3-4 GW in 2018 and 2.8 GW in 2019. Offshore wind construction in Germany’s North and Baltic Seas last year came in at 1.25 GW while, from this year, only 2.3 GW are under construction up to 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power has signed a deal with Central Energy Fund to build renewable energy complexes in South Africa. The project will be a 100 MW solar power plant called Redstone CSP, and its construction will begin this year. Located in the Northern Cape, the CSP plant will produce clean energy for 210,000 South African homes. ACWA Power said its projects in South Africa would create thousands of jobs in the country. The complex will be built with a CSP central tower that captures sunlight. Using this design will help the plant generate competitively priced electricity compared to other forms of renewable energy that cannot serve evening peak demand unless they are linked to “extremely expensive” utility scale batteries, ACWA Power said.

Ireland committed to divesting public funds from fossil fuel companies after parliament passed a bill forcing the €8.9 billion ($10.4 billion) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to withdraw money invested in oil, gas and coal. Members of Ireland’s Dail (Parliament) passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, which requires the fund to divest direct investments in fossil fuel undertakings within five years and not to make future investments in the industry. The bill said indirect investments should not be made, unless there is unlikely to be more than 15 percent of an asset invested in a fossil fuel undertaking. As of June last year, the fund’s investments in the global fossil fuel industry were estimated at €318 million across 150 companies. Ireland was ranked the second-worst performing European Union country, in front of Poland, in terms of climate change action in June by environmental campaign group Climate Action Network Europe. The world’s top oil, gas and coal companies face rising pressure from investors to shift to cleaner energy and renewables to meet international greenhouse gas emissions cut targets. Fossil fuel divestment has gained traction over the past few years as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and universities, have sold oil, gas and coal stocks, especially after the 195-nation Paris climate agreement set a goal in 2015 of phasing out the use of fossil fuels this century. Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, is barred from investing in firms that get more than 30 percent of their business from coal and it has also proposed to drop its investments in oil and gas. The government will give its opinion about that broader divestment in October. In the US, New York City announced a goal earlier this year to divest its $189 billion public pension funds from fossil fuel companies in five years.

Myanmar’s government must ensure the protection of ethnic communities amid hydropower projects that have “weak social and environmental safeguards,” activists said. The Myanmar government must undertake reforms in its hydropower sector to prevent dam projects from negatively impacting rural ethnic minority communities in southeastern Kayin state, where electrification rates are lowest in the nation, according to a report issued by two ethnic Karen NGOs. The findings of the report, based on information collected in districts in Kayin state, discussions with focus groups, individual interviews with villagers, and legal research, conclude that instead of benefiting local communities, hydropower development in ethnic minority areas has diminished the livelihoods of those who rely on their land to secure their food and income. Residents are usually forced from their land by companies involved in dam-building or by armed forces, are given little or no opportunity to give their input on the projects, and are later permitted limited access to natural, religious, or cultural sites where the dams are constructed, the report said. The report said that hydropower development in southeastern Myanmar often occurs without adequate consultation with ethnic communities or due process of law, and that villagers receive inadequate or no compensation for the land, homes, and possessions they are forced to give up. Myanmar plans to build 50 large hydropower projects, 42 of which will be located in ethnic minority areas of the country, the report said. And of the 26 largest already built, 12 are situated in such regions.

China will open an electricity trading market for hydropower and nuclear power generators, and accelerate the process for coal-fired power plants to join the market, the NDRC said. The NDRC also urged local authorities and grid companies to remove barriers on cross-regional power trading and encouraged all types of power generators that can meet energy consumption and emission standards, including captive power plants at industrial plants, to participate in the trading market. China plans to remove power consumption and generation restrictions for coal, steel, non-ferrous and construction materials companies from this year, allowing them to fully trade in the power market. The NDRC also asked local authorities to reduce intervention during power trading, as it is part of the country’s years-long efforts to liberalize the country’s electricity market.

A US judge dismissed a lawsuit by New York City seeking to hold major oil companies liable for climate change caused by carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. In dismissing the city’s claims against Chevron Corp, BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, US District Judge in Manhattan said climate change must be addressed through federal regulation and foreign policy. The oil companies moved to dismiss the case on numerous grounds, including that the federal Clean Air Act authorizes only the Environmental Protection Agency to bring lawsuits over pollution.

Italian oil major Eni has pulled out of a race to buy Terra Firma’s solar power assets in Italy. The British private equity firm is looking to sell its Rete Rinnovabile, known as RTR, solar portfolio in Italy in a deal expected to fetch more than €1 billion ($1.17 billion). If successful, the transaction will be Italy’s largest solar energy sale in a fragmented industry that has come under pressure to consolidate to counter the withdrawal of generous state subsidies. Eni was working on a joint bid with Qatar Petroleum for 130 plants for a total of 330 MW of solar energy put up for sale by Terra Firma. Italian investment firm Tages was considering making an offer without Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Clean Tech Fund, with which it had initially partnered.

Britain’s nuclear regulator said it has approved a request from EDF Energy to increase the maximum operating temperature in the reactors at its Hartlepool and Heysham 1 nuclear plants to avoid reducing reactor power. In 2014, the two plants were shut down for several months after cracks were found in the reactor boilers. When they restarted, they did so at reduced output to stop high temperatures causing more cracks. EDF Energy has asked the Office for Nuclear Regulation for permission to raise the operating limit for the upper surface of hot box domes inside the reactors to 390 degrees Celsius from 380 degrees. In May, a reactor at EDF Energy’s Hunterston B nuclear plant in Scotland was taken offline for additional safety checks after cracks were found in its core. The development of such cracks is a side effect of ageing but has raised concerns about other old reactors in Britain and Europe.

Japan’s government pledged to modestly boost the amount of energy coming from renewable sources to around a quarter in a new plan that also keeps nuclear power central to the country’s policy. The plan aims to have 22-24 percent of Japan’s energy needs met by renewable sources including wind and solar by 2030, a figure critics describe as unambitious based on current levels of around 15 percent. The European Union agreed to raise its renewable energy target to 32 percent by 2030. Japan’s policy also envisions nuclear providing more than 20 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030, reflecting the government’s ongoing commitment to the sector despite deep public concern after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The government has reduced Japan’s reliance on the sector, but defends nuclear as an emissions-free energy source that will help the country meet its climate change commitments. Japan currently generates around 90 percent of its energy from fossil fuels, and the plan calls for that figure to drop to just over half, with energy efficiency policies to cut demand. Reliance on fossil fuels like coal increased in Japan after the Fukushima disaster, as public anger over the accident pushed all of the country’s nuclear reactors offline temporarily. Six reactors are currently operating, and utilities face public opposition to activating more despite political support for the nuclear industry. Japan’s TEPCO, which operated the Fukushima plant, signalled last week that it was ready to resume work on the construction of a new nuclear plant in the country’s north.

IEA: International Energy Agency, US: United States, MNRE: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, MW: megawatt, GW: gigawatt, WTO: World Trade Organisation, SECI: Solar Energy Corp of India, FY: Financial Year, IROAF: Indian Railway Organization for Alternate Fuels, kWh: kilowatt hour, UPNEDA: Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency, DMRC: Delhi Metro Rail Corp, RUMSL: Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Ltd, PPA: power purchase agreement, discoms: distribution companies, IOC: Indian Oil Corp, LPG: liquefied petroleum gas, IEEFA: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, COD: commercial operations date, EU: European Union, FAME: fatty acid methyl esters, CSP: concentrated solar power, NDRC: National Development & Reform Commission


LPG price hiked by Rs 1.76 a cylinder

31 July. Subsidised cooking gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) price was hiked by Rs 1.76 per cylinder due to tax impact on the change in base price. Subsidised LPG with effect from midnight tonight will cost Rs 498.02 per cylinder in Delhi as against Rs 496.26 currently, a statement issued by Indian Oil Corp (IOC) said. All LPG consumers have to buy the fuel at market price. The government, however, subsidises 12 cylinders of 14.2 kilogram each per households in a year by providing the subsidy amount directly in bank accounts of users. This subsidy amount varies from month to month depending on the changes in average international benchmark LPG rate and foreign exchange rate. When international rates move up, the government provides a higher subsidy. But as per tax rules, GST (Goods and Services Tax) on LPG has to be calculated at the market rate of the fuel. The government may choose to subsidise a part of the price but tax will have to be paid at market rates. As a result of higher global rates, the price of non-subsidised LPG in Delhi will increase by Rs 35.50 per cylinder to Rs 789.5. This increase comes on back of Rs 55.50 per cylinder hike in July.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

Government to launch 2nd oil, gas field auction on August 9

30 July. The government plans to launch the auction of 60 oil and gas fields being offered in the second round of bidding for Discovered Small Field (DSF) on August 9, DGH (Directorate General of Hydrocarbons) said. The 60 discoveries have been clubbed into 26 contract areas spread over 3,100 square kilometre spread over eight sedimentary basins, it said. The fields are being offered in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kutch & Cambay shallow waters, Mumbai offshore, Assam and Tripura, Mahanadi shallow water, Andhra Pradesh onland and KG offshore. DGH said the main features of DSF-II include a single license for conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon, prior technical experience not a pre-qualification criterion, no upfront signature bonus and full pricing and marketing freedom. The fields on offer hold an estimated 1.4 billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas. The government had in 2016 brought a new DSF policy, offering “idle” small discovered fields of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) in an auction on liberalised terms including marketing and pricing freedom and lower taxes. The Union Cabinet had in February approved the second round of DSF auctions, under which the government is offering a total of 60 discovered small fields with an estimated 194.65 million tonnes of oil equivalent. These discoveries have been clubbed into 26 contract areas spread over 8 sedimentary basins. Of the 60 fields which will be up for auctions, 22 fields belong to ONGC, five to OIL and 12 are relinquished discovered fields from the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) blocks.

Source: Business Standard

Developing petrol engines to counter drop in diesel vehicle demand: M&M

29 July. Utility vehicles major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is developing petrol engines for its product line-up to counter drop in sales of diesel models over the last few years due to high taxation. In its Annual Report for 2017-18, the Mumbai-based auto major said it is also working towards building cost effective BS-VI compliant solutions for its diesel engine portfolio. The company is in the process of developing and introducing petrol engines across most of its products and segments, it said. With BS-VI emission norms slated to come into effect from 1 April 2020, prices of both petrol and diesel vehicles are set to go up. However, pricing pressure on diesel vehicles is expected to be higher which could further impact sales of such vehicles in the domestic market.

Source: Business Standard

Plan to lay LPG pipeline in Punjab being formulated: Oil Minister

28 July. The Central government was formulating a plan to lay LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) pipeline in 13 districts of Punjab, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. The facility would be first provided in Mohali district, the Minister said after laying the foundation stone of the new campus of National Skill Training Institute (NSTI).

Source: Business Standard

India to hold top spot for economic growth but oil poses risk

25 July. India will remain the fastest-growing major economy this year supported by increased government spending ahead of next year’s general election, but rising oil prices pose the biggest downside risk, a poll of economists showed. In contrast, analysts in the most recent poll expect China’s economy, the world’s second largest, to grow 6.6 percent this year. But record high costs of diesel and petrol – which are the biggest items on India’s import bill – at a time when the rupee is weakening and close to a record low has become a major burden, posing a risk to those forecasts. Over 60 percent of 41 economists who answered an additional question on risks to the outlook said the recent rise in oil prices was the biggest threat, as that would increase the prospect for more interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India.

Source: The Economic Times


RIL to shut MA O&G field in KG basin in September

29 July. Exactly a decade after it started production, the MA oil and gas (O&G) field in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin block KG-D6 will seize to produce from September, said RIL (Reliance Industries Ltd) which has battled quicker than anticipated decline in output at a block that once was its pride. RIL had till date made 19 O&G discoveries in the KG basin. Of these, D26 or MA — the only oil discovery in the block — was the first field to began production in September 2008. Dhirubhai-1 and 3 (D1 and D3) fields went onstream in April 2009. The field had in the first month produced 39,976 tonnes of crude oil and peaked to 1,08,418 tonnes in May 2010, according to data available from the upstream regulator, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH). Output has been declining since then it produced 0.14 million barrels (1960 tonnes) in April-June quarter, RIL said. MA also started producing gas from April 2009, just when D1 & D6 went live. It peaked to 8.4 million standard cubic meter per day in August 2010 before sand and water ingress forced shutting down of well after well. D1 & D3 field too had a peak that year in March when it touched an output of 61.4 metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd). RIL said KG-D6 output in April-June averaged at 4.7 mmscmd. This was made up of production from both D1 & D3 and MA fields.

Source: Business Standard

Government moves Delhi HC to recover $3.8 bn from RIL, Shell and ONGC

26 July. The government has moved Delhi High Court (HC) to enforce a $3.8 billion recovery from Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Shell and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) following an English court ruling over its share from the Panna-Mukta and Tapti fields in western offshore, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. The liability is to be split between the three companies in proportion to their stake in the fields. ONGC has 40 percent interest while RIL and Shell hold 30 percent each. He said that based on the Final Partial Award (FPA) dated October 12, 2016, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) had on May 25, 2017, raised demand for $3.8 billion on ONGC, RIL and Shell towards government of India share of profit petroleum and royalty. RIL and Shell challenged the FPA before the HC in London. ONGC was not party to the arbitration. The second arbitration is against the government seeking compensation from RIL and its partners for producing natural gas belonging to state-owned ONGC, he said.

Source: Business Standard

IOC opposes unified tariff proposal for natural gas pipelines

26 July. Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the country’s largest fuel retailer and among the largest operators of crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products pipelines, has opposed a proposal by the downstream oil and gas regulator Petroleum Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) to have unified tariff for inter-connected cross country gas pipelines. IOC voiced its opposition during an open house discussion held by PNGRB on Integrated authorization for unified tariff. The fuel retailer said that low pressure pipelines are not part of the proposal and unbundling of business and creation of an Independent

System Operator (ISO) should be done before unification of tariff. IOC also said it supports implementation of zonal tariff with entry-exit option, with unbundling and ISO. The open house discussion included participation from 17 companies including Shell Energy Marketing and Trading, GAIL (India) Ltd, GMR Energy, Jindal Steel and Power, Hazira LNG, Kokata power utility CESC, Gujarat State Petronet, Torrent Power, Reliance Industries Ltd, BP India and ONGC, among others. The current system of tariff determination by the regulator PNGRB leads to multiple pipeline tariffs on customers who have contracted gas which flows from multiple pipeline operators. A unified tariff may do away with levy of multiple tariffs ensuring equitable distribution of gas and uniform gas-based economic development across the country, PNGRB had said in its consultation paper on the proposal last year. According to the regulator, implementation of unified tariff may jack up tariffs for some existing natural gas pipeline customers. Also, GAIL’s proposal of unification of pipeline tariffs only at the entity level may lead to cascading effect on tariffs as customers will have to pay additive tariff for using a pipeline carrying gas from two different entities. IOC, Shell Energy Marketing and Trading and BP India were also of the opinion that unification of tariff should only be done after legal unbundling of gas trading and transmission business has taken place and an ISO is set-up. GAIL said unbundling is not related to unification of tariff which is a separate exercise and should be implemented on standalone basis. The gas utility said creation of an ISO too is an independent exercise. India currently operates a 16,771 kilometer (km) long natural gas pipeline network with capacity to transport 369 million metric standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd) of gas.

Source: The Economic Times


Coal import call by power ministry temporary: Coal Minister

29 July. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal has said that the recent decision of the Union power ministry to allow states to import coal is temporary in nature. Union Power Minister R K Singh has recently red flagged coal shortage for power plants for the next 2-3 years and allowed states to import the fuel. Goyal said there had been constant growth in coal production and dispatches by the Coal India Ltd (CIL) and explained that at times imports might be needed as a stop-gap arrangement for states to meet sudden rise in demand. Goyal said coal production had registered a 15.2 percent growth during the first quarter ended June 2018 to 136.87 million tonnes and supply to power plants also jumped by 15.4 percent to 122.84 million tonnes during the quarter. This resulted in lower coal imports by the power industry by nearly 15 percent during April-May this year. CIL is trying to rationalise coal supplies to power companies based on demand and stock lying with them in order to optimise power generation in the country.

Source: Business Standard

Goa HC issues notices on PIL for closure of coal operations at Mormugao port

25 July. The Bombay High Court (HC) at Goa has issued notices to the state government, the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and three private firms on a PIL (public interest litigation) seeking an order for closure of coal operations at the port in Vasco city. The notices were issued by the HC’s Goa bench, comprising Justices Nitin Jamdar and Prithviraj Chavan. The bench has fixed the next date of hearing as August 20. The PIL was filed by NGO Goa Foundation and five others. It stated that the handling of “dirty cargo” of coal at the port in Vasco is leading to permanent impairment of health of fellow citizens and continuously affecting the right to clean and planned environment guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Source: Business Standard


GUVNL invites bids to procure 1 GW power on short-term basis

31 July. Faced with reduced supply of electricity by private sector companies under power purchase agreements (PPAs), Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) has invited bids to procure 1,000 MW power on short-term basis through tariff based competitive bidding. The apex electricity utility intends to procure 1,000 MW, which includes 500 MW round the clock and 500 MW for twelve hours, for the months of September, October and November. For December, GUVNL has invited bids for 250 MW round clock power and 500 MW for twelve hours. Meanwhile, the power demand across the state increased to 13,500 MW. The demand had declined to 11,000 MW after heavy rains lashed the state, K K Bajaj, a city-based energy expert, said.

Source: The Economic Times

Electricity in Punjab to cost more as fuel surcharge goes up

30 July. Electricity is set to cost more yet again in Punjab. The state regulator for power has given a go-ahead to the PSPCL (Punjab State Power Corp Ltd) to hike its fuel cost adjustment (FCA) surcharge in order to overcome an increase in coal and rail freight prices. With the move, the per unit cost of power in Punjab is expected to rise to Rs 5.06-Rs 7.33 a unit for domestic consumers — the highest amongst all northern states. By increasing tariff, PSPCL hopes to recover Rs 146.35 crore, the estimated increase in coal and freight prices. In its latest order, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has approved the recovery on account of additional cost paid by PSPCL for generating power at its own thermal plants and hike in power purchase cost from other thermal stations under a long-term contract during the fourth quarter of the 2017-18 fiscal. FCA surcharge will be levied during the second quarter of the 2018-19 fiscal and the increased cost would then be passed on to consumers. PSPCL had filed a petition for an increase in FCA surcharge on June 8, in which it had stated that the price of coal and rail freight had led to the increase in variable cost of power purchase during the last quarter of 2017-18 fiscal. After taking all aspects into consideration, PSERC concluded that PSPCL had worked out the total FCA amount chargeable at Rs 160.31 crore.

Source: The Economic Times

PSPCL offers OTS to recover Rs 23 bn in dues

29 July. Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL) has launched a one-time settlement (OTS) scheme to recover default amount of Rs 2,300 crore from both government and private consumers, who have not cleared their pending bills. PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) Baldev Singh Sran said the scheme, which would remain in force till August 31, had been offered to all categories of consumers, except agriculture. He said that under the scheme the corporation had reduced interest on delayed payments and decided to charge a single rather than multiple surcharges. Out of the Rs 2,300 crore default payment, Rs 1,200 crore is outstanding against various government departments. As per the updated records of the PSPCL, government departments in the border zone of the state are the biggest defaulters that have yet to pay a total of Rs 323.36 crore to the power corporation. It is followed by the departments in the southern zone that owe the corporation Rs 315.59 crore. Next in line are the departments in western zone with a pendency of Rs 267.21 crore and in the northern zone, the total pending bills are of Rs 153 crore. In the central zone, the government departments have to release a sum of Rs 60.04 crore to the PSPCL.

Source: The Economic Times

For better quality power, need to hike tariff: Goa CM

28 July. Goa Chief Minister (CM) Manohar Parrikar said that to improve the power situation in the state a 10-15% hike in the electricity tariff was needed. The electricity department is “seriously working” on improving the power equipment in the state, the CM said. The department has issued various work orders to the tune of Rs 410 crore, as also kept Rs 113 crore for underground cabling, Rs 755 crore to take up priority work and Rs 75 crore for automating the electric distribution network. Additionally, this year, the government has kept budgetary support of Rs 317 crore for various subsidies, including power connections for households and agricultural farms. Work worth Rs 411 crore is underway, Parrikar said. He said that government will come out with a policy to regularise meter readers and line helpers.

Source: The Economic Times

Government may favour more time for stressed power companies

26 July. The government is likely to recommend that bankruptcy proceedings for stressed power plants should kick in after 360 days of default, giving relief to banks and companies that are struggling to meet the 180-day deadline set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its controversial February 12 circular. The recommendation is expected to be presented to the Allahabad High Court which is hearing petitions against the circular and had asked the government to present its views after consulting all stakeholders. Separate recommendations are likely to be made for power projects depending on their operational status and resolution plans drawn by the lenders. Stressed operational projects and those under execution may be recommended for an extra 180 days over and above the 180-day deadline expiring August 27. Special dispensation has been sought for projects resolved through Coal India Ltd (CIL) supplies (Shakti scheme) and those already in NCLT. A high-level committee to address cross-sectoral issues including delayed payment of private power companies is also being mulled. The power ministry and private power firms have demanded that stressed power projects should not be categorised as stressed in 90 days of default, while the deadline of 180 days to resolve a bad loan, after which liquidation process is immediately triggered, be extended to 270 days.

Source: The Economic Times

Thyssenkrupp bags $115 mn contract for power projects in Uttar Pradesh

25 July. Thyssenkrupp said it has bagged a contract worth around $115 million from Doosan Power Systems India (DPSI) to supply material handling plants for two thermal power projects in Uttar Pradesh. The plants will be part of the Obra C and Jawaharpur coal-fired power stations in the north, both to be operated by Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (UPRVUNL) and executed by DPSI, the company said. Once operational, they together will produce 2,640 MW of power enough to supply roughly 16 million homes in India.

Source: Business Standard


Safeguard duty on solar cells likely to increase bid tariffs: ICRA

31 July. Safeguard duty imposed by the government on imported solar cells is likely to push up solar bid tariffs and may not increase domestic manufacturing capacity of these items in the near term, credit rating firm ICRA said. Following the recommendations of the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), the finance ministry issued a notification yesterday, imposing 25 percent safeguard duty on solar cells (assembled into modules or not) imported from China and Malaysia. The solar bid tariffs have largely remained below Rs 3 per unit this year, varying between Rs 2.44 and Rs 2.75 a unit, with expectation of favourable price movement in PV (photovoltaic) modules following the policy changes in China. Sabyasachi Majumdar, Group Head – Corporate ratings, ICRA, Majumdar said that while the imposition of safeguard duty on imported solar cells and modules would improve the competitiveness of domestic module manufacturers, the extent of benefit is likely to be constrained by the recent fall in the imported PV module prices owing to the policy changes in China. Moreover, he said that the duty is unlikely to lead to any significant increase in the domestic solar module/cell manufacturing capacity in the near term. The safeguard duty of 25 percent will be applicable for a period of one year from July 30, 2018, followed by a reduction to 20 percent in the first six months of second year and further to 15 percent in the latter half of second year.

Source: Business Standard

US agency signs MoU with Indian company for 41 MW power project in Andhra Pradesh

31 July. A US (United States) trade development agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Indian private company for the development of a 41 MW hybrid wind, solar, and energy storage power plant in Andhra Pradesh. The MoU was signed between US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and private sector firm IL&FS Energy Development Company Ltd (IEDCL). IEDCL has selected Black & Veatch, a Kansas-based engineering firm, to carry out the technical assistance for the project that will advance pre-implementation and pre-construction activities for the plant, which is expected to lead to a 1,040 MW installation. This project is a follow-on to previous USTDA support that assessed the technical, financial and commercial viability of wind, solar, and energy storage hybrid power projects in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Following the completion of that analysis, IEDCL and the government of Andhra Pradesh signed a MoU to develop the 1,040 MW project. Grid modernisation through hybrid projects like this one will help promote sustainable economic growth in India, and support the government’s goal of reaching 175 GW of capacity from renewable sources by 2022, Jason Abiecunas, Black & Veatch’s Director of Distributed Energy Resources, said. Hybrid solutions, by optimising output and reducing variability, will also improve the bankability of renewable energy projects, he said.

Source: Business Standard

Government taking steps to ease crude import cost, focusing on biofuels: Oil Minister

30 July. The government is taking various measures, including focusing on biofuels, to ease the cost of crude oil import, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. He said that the government is focusing on biofuels such as first and second generation ethanol, biodiesel and bio-CNG (compressed natural gas) as part of efforts for “import reduction, environmental benefits and increased income to farmers”. Besides, efforts are on for increasing domestic production of oil and gas, capitalising untapped potential in biofuels and other alternative fuels, and implementing measures for refinery process improvements, he said. He said the government has notified the National Policy on Biofuels 2018, which allows use of damaged foodgrains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol.

Source: Business Standard

Government sets up panel to address stressed thermal power assets issues

30 July. Asserting that the stressed thermal power assets are a cause of concern for the country, the government decided to set up a high-level empowered panel under Cabinet Secretary to resolve the issues and revive such assets. The panel will also have representatives from the ministries of railways, finance, power, coal and the lenders having major exposure to the power sector.

Source: Business Standard

Amplus to invest Rs 20 bn to set up 400 MW solar capacity in UP

30 July. Amplus Energy Solutions, Gurgaon-based solar energy company, plans to invest Rs 2,000 crore in Uttar Pradesh (UP) by financial year 2020-21 as part of the state government’s Solar Power Policy 2017. As part of the investment plan, it has committed to commission solar projects of 400 MW capacity across the state. The announcement was made by the UP government. In the first phase, Amplus would set up a 50 MW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic project in Mirzapur for around Rs 250 crore, which is expected to create 130 jobs for the locals. Earlier in the year, Amplus signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government under the new policy for attaining solar energy capacity of 10,700 MW in the next five years.

Source: The Economic Times

Solar installations leave electricity network in peril in West Bengal

29 July. As solar installation becomes more affordable and homes begin to generate electricity and push it into the grid, power utilities like CESC and West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) face the challenge of managing their networks that are designed for one-way flow of electricity. TERI (The Energy & Resources Institute) has recently completed a load flow study, both under balanced and unbalanced conditions using a yearly time series load data-sets provided by WBSEDCL for selected feeders. The study is commissioned by state power and non-conventional energy sources department. As a short-term measure to protect network from damage, it has suggested that households install smart invertors for solar rooftop systems to maintain voltage stability.

Source: The Economic Times

Residents claim headaches due to emissions from MRPL plant

29 July. Residents of Jokatte and neighbouring villages have been reeling from intense headaches and breathing air laced with chemical fumes for the past one month. They have also been complaining of boils on their lips and pain in their eyes. They attribute the reasons for their ill-health to the coke and sulphur unit of the Mangalore Refinery Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL). As per law, any mega firm such as the MRPL needs to have a 33% green belt to ward off hazards caused by the volatile substances it releases. However, the MRPL is yet to acquire 27 more acres along the boundary to meet this criteria, according to Democratic Youth Federation of India.

Source: The Economic Times

BPCL becomes first oil marketing company to venture into biogas

29 July. Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) has become the first oil marketing company to venture into the biogas segment. It has begun on a micro scale with setting up a captive use plant for a food outlet in one its petrol pumps at Bazargaon off Nagpur-Amravati highway. The company has also opened its first electric car battery charging station in the city near Kalamna. As the industry sees emergence of alternate fuels as a means to reduce crude prices, BPCL is also shifting focus into electric vehicles and biogas. The company has bigger plans also, to further make compressed natural gas (CNG) through biogas, which can be seen as an alternative to petroleum. It is also considering to push biogas into the cooking gas segment. However, an entire chain of logistics supply involving many stakeholders will be needed to scale up the operations for making CNG out of biogas. It takes 100 kilogram (kg) of biowaste to make 4.5 kg of biogas. This if compressed at a specific count can make CNG, the company said. Considering the future of electric vehicles, BPCL is also planning to foray into the business of battery swapping stations.

Source: The Economic Times

Goa MLA seeks law to make solar panels mandatory for hotels

28 July. Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo told the legislative assembly that a law should be enacted making it compulsory for new hotels to fit solar panels on their rooftops. Congress Poriem MLA Pratapsingh Rane said there was a need to encourage the use of solar power in the state as a means of alternative energy and urged the government to come out with a scheme promoting it. His party colleague and Ponda legislator Ravi Naik, said that the government should first install solar panels on all of its buildings, a move that would help power generation.

Source: The Economic Times

Uttar Pradesh cancels 10 July solar auction on high tariff

28 July. Stung by the high solar tariff of Rs 3.48 per unit at an auction for 1,000 MW, conducted by the Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) a fortnight back, the state government has cancelled the auction and is going in for re-bidding. The reverse auction for grid-connected solar projects conducted on 10 July saw participation from 13 companies. Mahoba Solar, an Adani group company, quoted the lowest tariff of Rs 3.48 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to develop 250 MW of projects. However, tariffs are much higher than in some of the recent auctions, including the latest tenders by Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI), where the L1 bid quoted was Rs 2.44 per unit. UPPCL (Uttar Pradesh Power Corp Ltd) Chairman Alok Kumar said the state government as well as the SECI (Solar Energy Corp of India) feel that the tariff is very high, and so the UPNEDA should go in for re-bidding. It may be mentioned that solar developers had been anticipating the cancellation of the bids by the Uttar Pradesh government, and the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), representing solar energy developers, has written to the State Energy Minister, requesting him to intervene and issue suitable directives to UPPCL to honour the tariff and the bidding process as cancellation of the auction might set a bad precedent.

Source: The Financial Express

Need new technology, innovation in renewable energy for India’s growth: Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker

27 July. With thermal power generation creating environmental concerns, the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and Senior AIADMK leader M Thambidurai stressed on the need for innovation and new technologies in the renewable energy space to push India’s economic development. There is a commitment to increase the share of non-fossil fuel-based electricity to 40 percent by 2030, he said. The encouraging sign is that India has been ranked among the top five countries for investment in renewable power projects after China, the US, Japan and the UK, he said. The government had earlier announced a Rs 48,000 crore KUSUM scheme to incentivise farmers to run solar farm water pumps and also use their baron land for generating solar power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier launched a Rs 16,320 crore scheme Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana Saubhagya’ to provide electricity connections to over 4 crore families in rural and urban areas by December 2018.

Source: Business Standard

On 2 October, 100k students in India to assemble solar lamps

27 July. As part of the upcoming 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and ongoing diamond jubilee of IIT-Bombay, a whopping 100,000 students from 100 schools across India will assemble solar lamps on 2 October. The workshop, under the IIT-Bombay’s Solar Urja through Localisation for Sustainability (SoULS) programme, is billed as the largest such initiative which could qualify for a Guinness World Record entry. On 2 October, 5000 students or Student Solar Ambassadors, shall gather at IIT-Bombay to assemble solar lamps to help promote solar energy for sustainable future on Earth. The solar lamp kits, costing Rs 500 each, will be provided to all the participating students at Rs 100 each, as part of a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy programme. The SoULS has already conducted several training programs to train men and women especially in rural areas to assemble, service and sell solar lamps. With India’s pledge to the Paris Climate Agreement of reducing carbon emission by 30-35 percent of 2005 levels, it has committee to mitigating climate degradation with installation of 100 GW of renewable energy by 2022. Under the SoULS program, the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti has included solar lamp assembly as part of its curriculum. The IIT-Bombay has launched a website, for schools to register themselves for the workshop.

Source: Business Standard

India lost 2 lakh jobs due to dumping of Chinese solar panels: Parliament Panel

27 July. Dumping of Chinese solar panels in India, once a major exporter of the product, is estimated to have cost 2 lakh jobs, a Parliamentary Panel said and asked the commerce department to properly implement its probing arm DGAD (Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties)’s suggestions on cheap imports from China. Expressing shock at the job loss estimates it quoted, the panel strongly recommended resolution of problem of poor implementation of the findings of the DGAD on dumping of Chinese goods as also subsidies they get. These observations have been made by Parliament Standing Committee on Commerce in its report on impact of Chinese goods on Indian industry. It is disheartening to note that India was one of the major exporters of solar products between 2006-2011 before China started dumping their products at the cost of Indian manufacturers.

Source: The Economic Times

India’s CO2 emission to rise 3.8-3.9 gigatonnes by 2030

26 July. India’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission will rise to 3.8-3.9 gigatonnes by 2030 not 3.8-4.9 gigatonnes as was projected earlier, which is consistent with the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) pledge made at the 2015 Paris summit, according to a study by an Indian think-tank. According to the study by the Centre for Policy Research, even if emissions reach to the said level by 2030, India’s expected per capita emissions will be lower than today’s global average. It said the country was also expect to make a faster shift from coal to renewable energy. India can expect a faster than predicted shift from coal to renewable energy, and lower than expected energy demand growth – both of which point to lower 2030 emissions, the study said. As a significant emitter of greenhouse gases, but also as a developing country starting from a low emissions base, India is an important actor in global climate change mitigation, the study said. India’s modelling studies project a wide range of 2030 projections for CO2, the lowest projecting a 9 percent increase from 2012 levels, and the highest a 169 percent increase, it said. India’s emission was projected to rise to 3.8-4.9 gigatonnes by 2030 but the current study found emissions to rise 3.8-3.9 gigatonnes which is consistent with the NDC pledge made at the Paris summit, according to the study. The study said even if India’s emissions double by 2030, they will be lower than China’s equivalent emissions in 2015.

Source: NDTV

Two mega hydropower plants in Himachal Pradesh shut

25 July. The country’s two mega hydropower plants in Himachal Pradesh were temporarily shut down, owing to a rise in the level of the silt content in the Satluj river, disrupting power supply to the northern states, including New Delhi. The company operates both the hydro projects. The generation was stopped as the silt could damage the turbines, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL) Chairman and Managing Director Nand Lal said.

Source: Business Standard

Need to ease carbon taxes to help energy-intensive industries compete globally: NITI Aayog

25 July. India’s use of carbon taxes to promote clean energy has gone too far and there is a case for easing them to let energy-intensive industries compete globally, federal policy think tank NITI Aayog said in a new report. The observation that steps to discourage use of coal and promote solar and wind power have actually penalized downstream industry by way of high energy costs, comes at a time India is taking a global lead in climate change policies, while the US (United States) has turned its attention to easing of overly burdensome environmental protection rules. NITI Aayog’s call to rationalize carbon taxes also echoes chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian’s warning last August that India cannot allow the narrative of “carbon imperialism” to come in the way of realistic and rational planning for the country’s energy future. The report said that apart from higher power cost, additional burden in the form of power distribution firms’ obligation to purchase renewable power and coal cess of ₹ 400 a tonne, the carbon trading system and electricity duty on power generation (levied by states) have increased the second-most used metal’s overall production cost. Energy experts said that considering the recent decline in clean energy prices, it may not be difficult for power distribution firms to meet renewable purchase obligation.

Source: Livemint

Renewable energy sector needs $76 bn to meet 104 GW balance target by 2022

25 July. The government has set a target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. As of June 2018, 71.33 GW of renewable energy capacity has been installed in the country. To achieve the balance target of 103.67 GW, an investment of around $76 billion is required. This amount has been estimated at present capital cost, which includes $53.20 billion as debt and $22.80 billion as equity for a debt-equity ratio of 70:30, according to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) norms. In 2016-17, an aggregate capacity of around 11,322 MW of renewable energy was installed in the country. In 2017-18, an aggregate capacity of around 11,887 MW was installed. India’s renewable energy sector is consistently growing and continues to remain attractive to investors from across the world. Solar tariffs in India saw their lowest ever level of Rs 2.44 per unit in reverse auctions carried out by the Solar Energy Corp of India (SECI) in May 2017 for a 200 MW project and again in July 2018 for a 600 MW project. A total of around 69,784 MW of renewable energy capacity has been installed in the country as of March 2018 from all renewable energy sources — around 34,145 MW from wind, around 21,651 MW from solar, around 4,486 MW from small hydropower, and around 9,502 MW from bio-power. The government’s target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 includes 100 GW from solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from biomass, and 5 GW from small hydro capacity.

Source: Business Standard

Orissa HC stays safeguard duty on imported solar panels

25 July. The Orissa High Court (HC) has stayed the imposition of safeguard duty on imported solar panels until August 20 following a petition from leading solar developer Acme Solar Holdings opposing it. The Directorate General of Trade Restrictions (DGTR) recommended that safeguard duty on solar panels and modules imported from China and Malaysia should be imposed for two years — 25% for the first year, 20% for the first six months of the second year, and 15% for the remaining six months. The DGTR’s decision followed a petition from the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA), a body of domestic solar manufacturers, filed last December. In a preliminary finding in January this year, a safeguard duty of 70% for 200 days on solar imports had been recommended.

Source: The Economic Times


Shell to make final investment call on Nigeria oilfield in 2019

31 July. Royal Dutch Shell and its partners will decide next year on whether to go ahead with the development of Nigeria’s Bonga Southwest offshore oilfield. The project, one of the country’s largest with an expected production of 180,000 barrels per day, will generate profit at below $50 a barrel, Bayo Ojuli, managing director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, said. Shell is currently negotiating a production sharing contract with the Nigerian government which will determine the viability of the project, he said. The negotiations are expected to finish this year.

Source: Reuters

BP’s oil trading business made small loss in second quarter: CFO

31 July. BP’s oil trading business made a small loss in the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Brian Gilvary said. The world’s biggest oil traders have counted hefty losses after a surprise doubling in the price discount of US (United States) light crude to benchmark Brent in just a month, as surging US production upended the market. Over the first half, oil trading made a profit, Gilvary said. Gilvary said he expected oil prices to stay within a $5 range around current prices for the next six months.

Source: Reuters

US crude output slips 30k bpd to 10.44 mn bpd in May: EIA

31 July. US (United States) crude production fell 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.44 million bpd in May, as production declines in the Gulf of Mexico overshadowed gains in output from major shale basins. Production increased in Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio in the month, according to a production report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Production in North Dakota rose by 25,000 bpd, while Texas saw output climb 20,000 bpd in the month. Offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico declined 75,000 bpd, or nearly 5 percent in the month, and was down more than 10 percent from a year earlier.

Source: Reuters

Indonesia’s Pertamina to take over Chevron’s Rokan oil block in 2021

31 July. Indonesia has decided Pertamina will take over operation of the Rokan oil block, the country’s second-biggest crude producing field, once Chevron’s operating contract there expires in 2021, Deputy Energy Minister Arcandra Tahar said. Rokan has been a focus area for Chevron, which asked Indonesia earlier this year to extend its operating contract beyond 2021. Pertamina will operate Rokan from Aug. 8, 2021 to 2041, under a gross split production sharing contract, Tahar said. Crude oil lifting by Chevron unit Chevron Pacific Indonesia, operator of the Rokan block, hit 207,148 bpd in the first half of 2018, below a 2018 budget target of 213,551 bpd.

Source: Reuters

New Zealand’s Contact Energy to sell LPG business for $177.4 mn

31 July. Contact Energy Ltd said it will sell Rockgas Ltd, which holds the company’s LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) business, to an associate of First Gas Ltd for NZ$260 million ($177.35 million) in cash. As a part of the deal, Contact will enter into an exclusive marketing agreement with First Gas associate Gas Services NZ Midco Ltd that will allow it to continue to offer LPG to mass market customers. Contact will provide support services to Rockgas for mass market customers for a yearly fee of NZ$2 million, the Wellington-based company said. Acquired from Origin Energy for NZ$156 million in 2007, Rockgas supplies over 88,000 customers through its network. Last year, Contact Energy had said it would sell its Ahuroa Gas Storage facility to Gas Services New Zealand for NZ$200 million, while retaining usage rights to the facility.

Source: Reuters

OPEC July oil output hits 2018 peak, but outages weigh

30 July. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil output has risen this month to a 2018 high as Gulf members pumped more after a deal to ease supply curbs and Congo Republic joined the group, a survey found, although losses from Iran and Libya limited the increase. OPEC has pumped 32.64 million barrels per day (bpd) in July, the survey found, up 70,000 bpd from June’s revised level and the highest this year with Congo added. OPEC and allies agreed last month to boost supply as US President Donald Trump urged producers to offset losses caused by new US sanctions on Iran and to dampen prices LCOc1, which this year hit $80 a barrel for the first time since 2014. Following the OPEC decision, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates raised output by 80,000 bpd and 40,000 bpd respectively in July, the survey found. The bulk of the Saudi supply boost appears to have been delivered in June as Riyadh tapped storage tanks to push supply to 10.60 million bpd, near a record high. The increase infuriated Iran and surprised other OPEC members with its scale. According to the survey, OPEC excluding Congo pumped about 460,000 bpd below this implied target in July.

Source: Reuters

Brazil’s Petrobras targets larger China market share with new crude oil

27 July. Brazil’s state-controlled energy company Petrobras plans to push more crude oil to top importer China by marketing a new medium-sweet grade that could be shipped from October. Petrobras expects to start pumping pre-salt oil from new platforms in the fourth quarter that would add to output from Latin America’s biggest producer and lift its exports. The new supply could enlarge Brazil’s market share in China as buyers there cut oil imports from the United States following Beijing’s announcement it would impose tariffs on US (United States) crude in retaliation against similar moves by Washington. Buzios crude has API gravity of 28.4 degrees and contains about 0.31 percent sulphur, similar in quality to Brazil’s Lula crude, one of the most popular oils in China, the company said. The new supply could help lift Petrobras’ crude oil exports, which dropped 53.8 percent in June from a year ago to 696,000 barrels per day (bpd) as the company hiked its refinery output. Petrobras’ overall production in June stood at 2.03 million bpd, down 1.5 percent from May. Brazil’s oil liquids output, including biofuels, is expected to rise by 200,000 bpd to 3.5 million bpd in 2019, after holding steady in 2018, according to consultancy Energy Aspects. China’s demand for low-sulphur crude, such as oil from Angola and Brazil, jumped over the past two years after its independent refiners, also known as teapots, were allowed to import crude. The teapots’ oil imports from Brazil more than doubled in the first half of 2018 to 350,000 bpd compared with the same period a year ago, according to Beijing consultancy SIA Energy.

Source: Reuters

Phillips 66 ‘maxed out’ on Canadian heavy crude oil: CEO

27 July. Phillips 66 is running all the heavy Canadian crude oil the independent refiner can handle at its US (United States) refineries and will not seek additional supply from a new pipeline, Chief Executive Officer (CFO) Greg Garland said. During a call to discuss second-quarter results, the company said its nine refineries would operate in the mid-90 percent range of their combined crude oil processing capacity of 1.65 million barrels per day in the third quarter of 2018. Garland said there were no major turnaround overhauls planned for its refineries in the third quarter of 2018.

Source: Reuters

Russia does not use stocks in tanks to help boost oil output: Energy Minister

27 July. Russia does not use stocks in tanks to help boost oil output and does not have enough stocks to influence the oil market, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. Russia does have some flexibility thanks to spare capacity in the Transneft pipeline system and in oil tanks at fields. Russia does not have storage capacity for accumulating of reserves, he said. Russian oil production last month rose by around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from May. From July 1-15, the country’s average oil output was 11.215 million bpd, an increase of 245,000 bpd from May. He said that Russia has raised oil output by increasing oil production, not by using stocks. He said that the market remains volatile and responds to verbal interventions. But the current oil price has already taken into account risks related to possible the US sanctions against Iran, he said. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil producers led by Russia agreed to ease production curbs. The deal effectively increases combined oil output by 1 million bpd, of which Russia’s share stands at 200,000 bpd.

Source: Reuters

In China’s far west, CNPC vows $22 bn spend to replace ageing oil wells

July 25. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said it will spend more than 150 billion yuan ($22 billion) by 2020 to boost oil and gas production in the western region of Xinjiang, aiming to offset falling output from ageing fields in northeast China. The increased spending will push output in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region to more than 50 million tonnes of oil equivalent between 2018 and 2020, CNPC said. The investment is equivalent to the total expenditure by CNPC’s listed unit PetroChina, China’s top oil and gas producer, for oil and gas exploration and production in 2017. CNPC’s Xinjiang operations churned out 11.45 million tonnes of crude oil last year, while the company produced 23.5 billion cubic meters of gas, equivalent to 17.1 million tonnes of gas, from the Tarim in the region, one of China’s largest gas basins, according to PetroChina’s 2017 annual report.

Source: Reuters

Saudi Arabia halts oil exports in Red Sea lane after Houthi attacks

25 July. Saudi Arabia said it was suspending oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s most important tanker routes, after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway. Saudi Arabia and arch-foe Iran have been locked in a three-year proxy war in Yemen, which lies on one side of the Bab al-Mandeb strait at the southern mouth of the sea, one of the most important trade routes for oil tankers heading from the Middle East to Europe. The Houthis, who have previously threatened to block the strait, said that they had the naval capability to hit Saudi ports and other Red Sea targets. Iran has threatened to block another strategic shipping route, the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the Houthis attacked two Saudi oil tankers in the Red Sea, one of which sustained minimal damage.

Source: Reuters

Tullow shuts down Kenyan oilfield operations due to unrest

25 July. Tullow Oil has stopped work at its Kenyan oilfields and halted trucking operations after protests by the local community disrupted a transport scheme, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul McDade said. The British company aims to produce the first oil from the $2.9 billion Kenya project by 2021, which would open up the country’s oil industry to exports. But protests and security problems have halted a pilot scheme which currently trucks around 600 barrels of oil per day to a storage facility in Mombasa before a pipeline is built which should be operational by 2022. Tullow is targeting production in Kenya of at least 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day after first oil in 2021/22.

Source: Reuters

South Sudan terminates petroleum license talks with Total

25 July. South Sudan has called off talks with French oil major Total about developing two oil blocks, the petroleum ministry said, paving the way for other investors keen on exploring the vast area thought to be rich in hydrocarbons. Total, alongside two other oil companies, has been in talks with the country’s government about developing the area called B1 and B2 since 2013. Total and the government failed to agree on the duration of the exploration and the commercial terms of a production-sharing agreement, Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said.

Source: Reuters


EU earmarks $325 mn for four new LNG import terminals

31 July. The European Commission has earmarked €278 million ($325 million) for four liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals due onstream between 2018 and 2020. Poland’s LNG import terminal that came onstream in 2016 had already received €332 million. US President Donald Trump and EU (European Union) Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker vowed to increase trade in LNG. EU financing programs will disburse €50.8 million to an LNG terminal expansion in Greece, €124 million for one on the island of Krk in Croatia and €101.2 million for a Cyprus project.

Source: Reuters

Iraq to take over development of Mansuriyah gas field, Nassirya oilfield

31 July. Iraq will develop its Mansuriyah gas field near the Iranian border using state-run firms after the “delay and failure” of international companies to resume work at the field, the oil ministry said. Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi has ordered the state-run companies of the oil ministry to develop Mansuriyah gas field, Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said. In 2011, Iraq signed a deal with a group led by Turkey’s TPAO and including South Korea’s Kogas and the Kuwait Energy Company to develop the field in its volatile Diyala province. The oil ministry said having state firms develop Mansuriyah will help to produce gas needed for a nearby power station and cut fuel imports which burden Iraq’s budget.

Source: Reuters

Australia’s Ichthys LNG project comes online

30 July. Inpex Corp announced that its operated Ichthys LNG project has commenced the production of gas from its wells. The development marks “the start of approximately 40 years of operations,” according to Inpex. At full capacity, the Ichthys LNG project’s offshore facilities are expected to produce 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day and 85,000 barrels of condensate per day, according to Total, one of the stakeholders in the project.  The Ichthys LNG project involves liquefying natural gas lifted from the Ichthys gas-condensate field, offshore Western Australia, at an onshore gas liquefaction plant constructed in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Source: Rigzone

Egypt’s Zohr gas field capacity to reach 2 bcfd by September: Eni

27 July. Italian oil company Eni said that the production capacity of Egypt’s giant Mediterranean Zohr gas field stood at 1.6 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day) billion cubic feet and would reach 2 bcfd by September. Eni raised €50 million ($58 million) as an advance on future gas supplies to Egyptian state-owned partners to finance Zohr. Zohr, located in the offshore Shorouk block about 190 km north of Port Said, was discovered in 2015 and holds an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Egypt has been seeking to speed up production from recently discovered fields, with an eye to halting imports by 2019.

Source: Reuters

Global LNG prices rise as heat grips Japan, but more Yamal flows seen

27 July. Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices rose as a heatwave gripped Japan and high temperatures swept across South Korea and parts of China boosting cooling demand though relief is set to come from new Russian supplies. Spot prices for September LNG-AS delivery in Asia were assessed at $9.75 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu), up 25 cents from the previous week. LNG imports into South Korea hit record levels in the first half of the year but such volumes will not be sustainable as anticipated nuclear start-ups will leave an average of only six reactors offline over the rest of the year. The second train at Novatek’s Arctic Russian operations in Yamal has started operations. Novatek said that the second train would start operations in the third quarter of this year, the trader said.  Papua New Guinea launched a tender offering a cargo for 22-29 August and the bids were seen to be bullish although the result is not yet known, the trader said. However, Russia’s Sakhalin II cargo offered in the first half of September was sold to a shareholder of the plant for an estimated $9.70 per mmBtu. Another trader cited a potential transaction range of $9.65-$9.70 per mmBtu. He sees September prices around the $9.75 per mmBtu mark. Aside from Yamal, traders were also waiting on new supplies from Japan’s Inpex, which expects its Ichthys plant in Australia to start up in September.

Source: Reuters

US court vacates two permits for EQT Mountain Valley gas pipeline

27 July. A US (United States) appeals court vacated decisions by two federal agencies that allowed EQT Corp to build its $3.5 billion to $3.7 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia across federal land. Mountain Valley is one of several pipelines expected to enter service over the next year or two to connect growing output in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio with customers in other parts of the United States and Canada. The 303 mile (488 kilometer) pipeline is designed to deliver up to 2 billion cubic feet per day of gas to meet growing demand for the fuel for power generation and other uses in the US Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. One billion cubic feet is enough gas to supply about five million US homes for a day.

Source: Reuters

Ukraine keeps gas prices unchanged despite IMF demands

26 July. Ukraine extended a freeze on gas prices until at least September 1, reducing its prospects of securing more money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) needed to keep its war-battered economy on a stable footing. Ukraine must raise gas prices to market levels in order to qualify for more aid under a $17.5 billion IMF program. It initially agreed to raise prices under a jointly agreed formula but has since postponed price rises a number of times. The government may shy away from potentially unpopular measures like gas price hikes with presidential and parliamentary elections due next year. Ukraine has received no IMF money since April 2017 due to a slowdown in reforms, putting the country in a more financially precarious position as it must repay around $15 billion of foreign currency debt in the next two years.

Source: Reuters

US clears path for faster natural gas exports to Latin America

25 July. The US Energy Department cleared the way for faster approval of small scale exports of natural gas including liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Latin American countries by issuing a rule that does away with a public interest review of the shipments. Previously, companies that wanted to export natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries were subject to a Department of Energy (DOE) public interest review. With the final rule, the DOE will grant approval to export natural gas and LNG to non-free trade agreement countries, provided they export no more than 51.75 billion cubic feet per year of natural gas, and that the proposed export qualifies for a categorical exclusion under the DOE’s requirements under federal environmental law. Many Latin American countries do not have enough natural gas demand to support LNG imports from large terminals and conventional LNG tankers. But US companies are trying other ways to get gas to the market. American LNG Marketing LLC, has exported more than 145 cargoes of small-scale LNG shipments from its facility in Florida to Barbados and Bermuda over the past few years.

Source: Reuters


No change to Indonesia coal supply, pricing rules likely until 2019

30 July. Indonesia is unlikely to change its rules on domestic coal supply and pricing until 2019, Coordinating Maritime Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said, amid government discussions on how Southeast Asia’s biggest economy can increase its export revenues. Pandjaitan referred to proposed revisions to rules introduced in March requiring Indonesian coal miners to sell 25 percent of their thermal coal output to domestic buyers, with a price capped at $70 per tonne for coal sold to state electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara.

Source: Reuters

South Korea to raise coal tax

30 July. South Korea plans to increase its tax on thermal coal, while lowering the tax on liquefied natural gas (LNG) to support the use of cleaner fuels for power generation, the finance ministry said. The ministry said that it will increase the tax on thermal coal by 10 won to 46 won ($0.0412) per kilogram reflecting environmental costs of using the fossil fuel. South Korea generates more than 70 percent of its power from coal and nuclear, while renewables account for 6 percent, but the country aims to gradually phase out coal and nuclear power. The revised tax is expected to go into effect from April 1, 2019, should the government plan be approved by parliament.

Source: Reuters


Eskom workers picket some South African power stations

30 July. Workers at some of South African state-owned utility Eskom’s power stations are demonstrating over wages, but supply has not been disrupted. A spate of controlled blackouts was triggered in June following worker-led protests after the cash-strapped utility, which provides virtually all of South Africa’s power, said it could not afford pay increases.

Source: Reuters

Germany thwarts China by taking stake in power firm

28 July. The German government said it took a minority stake in electricity transmission firm 50Hertz for “national security” reasons, thwarting Chinese investors from buying into the strategic company. Berlin has therefore tasked a public bank with purchasing a 20-percent stake put up for sale by Australian infrastructure fund IFM and which has been sought by China’s State Grid. The Chinese group had already tried to take a minority stake in 50 Hertz (Hz). But their first attempt was blocked as 50 Hz’s majority shareholder — Belgian power transmission system operator Elia — snapped up the stake and expanded its holdings to 80 percent.

Source: The Japan News

Russian hackers appear to shift focus to US power grid

27 July. State-sponsored Russian hackers appear far more interested this year in demonstrating that they can disrupt the American electric utility grid than the midterm elections, according to United States intelligence officials and technology company executives. By comparison, according to intelligence officials and executives of the companies that oversee the world’s computer networks, there is surprisingly far more effort directed at implanting malware in the electrical grid. The Department of Homeland Security reported that over the last year, Russia’s military intelligence agency had infiltrated the control rooms of power plants across the United States. In theory, that could enable it to take control of parts of the grid by remote control.

Source: The New York Times


Solar panel glut is muting effect of Trump tariffs: SunPower

31 July. A steep global decline in the price of solar modules in recent weeks is nearly offsetting the effect of the Trump administration’s 30 percent tariff on imported panels, US (United States) solar company SunPower said. SunPower is both a manufacturer of solar panels and an installer of solar power systems. The San Jose, California-based company makes its products primarily in the Philippines and Mexico and is seeking an exclusion from the US tariffs. SunPower expects to spend $51 million on tariffs in the second half of this year, an amount the company would prefer to invest in its next-generation technology and scaling up its US manufacturing, Tom Werner, the CEO of SunPower Corp, said.

Source: Reuters

China’s renewable power waste falls, but warns of challenges

31 July. Levels of wasted power in China’s renewable sector fell in the first half of this year, but securing grid access for many new clean energy projects remains a challenge for the industry, Liang Zhipeng, vice-director of the renewable energy office of the National Energy Administration said. China’s renewable energy capacity has soared thanks to generous subsidies and ambitious targets, but the country does not have enough transmission capacity to deliver all the new power to customers, a problem known as curtailment. China’s total renewable energy capacity reached 680 GW by the end of June, up 13 percent on the year, accounting for nearly 40 of total energy capacity. Non-fossil fuel power – renewables and nuclear – accounted for 66.1 percent of China’s new installed energy capacity in the first half, up 5.4 percentage points compared to a year earlier. Wind curtailment rates stood at 8.7 percent, down 5 percentage points on the year, while solar curtailment also fell 3.2 percentage points to 3.6 percent during the first half.

Source: Reuters

France’s Engie confirms 2018 guidance despite Belgian nuclear outages

27 July. French gas and power group Engie confirmed its 2018 earnings outlook despite a series of outages at its Belgian nuclear plants, and posted virtually flat first-half revenue. Core earnings rose 1.3 percent in the first half – in line with expectations but slower than the 3 percent seen in the first quarter – due to strong hydro power in France and despite the nuclear outages in Belgium.

Source: Reuters

Russia’s Rosatom “still interested” in nuclear power generation in South Africa

26 July. Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom is “still interested” in any deal to expand South Africa’s nuclear power-generating capacity and would follow the correct procedures if the South African government invites bids.

Source: Reuters

US EPA to keep pursuing biofuel changes under new leadership: Wheeler

25 July. The US (United States) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s acting administrator Andrew Wheeler said he would follow up the work of his predecessor to overhaul the nation’s biofuel policy, including pursuing changes strongly opposed by the powerful corn lobby like counting ethanol exports toward annual biofuels quotas. The biofuel industry had been hoping that Wheeler would drop some of former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s overhaul efforts, which were aimed at helping the oil industry, and instead prioritize the interests of farmers in the US heartland to expand domestic markets for corn-based fuel. Wheeler said the agency was open to changes sought by the biofuel industry, but only if it made concessions too. Wheeler said the agency wanted a “50-state solution” to the nation’s vehicle emissions standards, as the EPA opens the door to weakening Obama-era efficiency targets over the objections of California.

Source: Reuters


Hydrocarbon Imports by India in 2017-18

US$ Million

Fuel Type 2016-17 2017-18

% change FY18 FY17

Crude Oil 70,196.06 87,776.00 25.0
Pet Products 10,613.77 13,419.68 26.4

India’s Total Imports (ITI)

(of All Commodities)

3,84,355.56 4,65,578.29 21.1

Crude Oil & Pet Products imports

as % of ITI

21.02 21.7

Direction of India’s Crude Imports

Source: Compiled from PPAC & Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Publisher: Baljit Kapoor

Editorial Adviser: Lydia Powell

Editor: Akhilesh Sati

Content Development: Vinod Kumar Tomar


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