The construction of an €11 billion gas pipeline from Russia to Germany could be frozen for years because Denmark has raised eleventh hour environmental concerns about its route. The Nord Stream 2 project had been expected to begin pumping natural gas along the floor of the Baltic by the end of the year, to the chagrin of many of Germany’s allies, who say that it will leave Europe more dependent on the Kremlin for its energy. The scheme consists of two new pipelines that are expected to double the annual capacity – of 55 billion cubic metres – of an existing pair. The gas will be exported by Gazprom, the Russian state-backed company, and most will be sold on by Germany to central and eastern European countries. Almost 600 miles of pipes have already been laid and the terminals at either end are well on their way to completion but the work now faces an indefinite delay. The chief stumbling block is the Danish island of Bornholm, located at an important strategic position between Sweden and Poland. Unlike the other four countries along the course of Nord Stream 2, Denmark has stalled on issuing a permit for construction in its waters, citing potential risks to wildlife and human safety. The firm has already proposed two routes around Bornholm: one off the island’s southern shore, threaded through Danish territorial waters; the other further away to the north, just outside the zone.
Times 1st April 2019 read more »
Japan’s environment minister has announced he will “in principle” oppose any new plans to build or expand coal-fired power stations, as further signs emerge of a dramatic energy pivot by Australia’s top export market for thermal coal. Guardian Australia reported in March that Japan had cancelled a large percentage of planned investments in coal-fired power, while Japanese investment vehicles were ditching coal projects and instead seeking to back large-scale renewable projects across Asia. Market analysts expect the price of thermal coal will remain dictated by China, whose recent restrictions on Australian exports have already tempered near-record prices, and would likely continue to reduce its value. A faster-than-anticipated transition by the Japanese energy sector, which buys 39% of Australian-mined thermal coal, would affect future volumes and the viability of some new mines.
Guardian 31st March 2019 read more »
In west Texas last week, you could not give gas away, as prices dropped to record lows. Companies trying to offload natural gas at the Waha hub, in the booming shale oil region of the Permian Basin, found they had to pay operators with pipeline capacity to take it away. The gas price at Waha registered a low last Thursday of minus $2.50 per million British Thermal Units and closed at minus $1.95, its lowest level since S&P Global Platts started collecting the data back in 1994. The steep negative prices last week were in part caused by equipment failures on one pipeline system and planned maintenance on another, which made it harder to find outlets for unwanted gas. The fundamental problem in west Texas, however, is that there is a growing oversupply of gas that is a byproduct of booming crude output in the shale oilfields of the Permian Basin. That surge of surplus gas, which could continue for years, is expected to have global implications, with several companies developing projects for exporting it to world markets.
FT 31st March 2019 read more »