China is notorious around the world for its coal consumption and frighteningly high carbon emissions. However, changes in regulation to dramatically cut these emissions and tackle the serious air quality problems has led to a huge increase in the number of LNG powered vehicles being sold particularly in the heavy truck market. Sales of LNG powered heavy trucks was up 540% in the first seven months of this year and imports of LNG are up 45% so far this year. Other projects to bring down emissions include piping gas to around 1.4million homes in the north of the country as an alternative to coal for heating. Although international pressure and trends have played a role in this switch, there are other factors involved.
Winter is always an interesting time of year in the energy industry, as demand spikes and any shortfalls need to be addressed. This winter has already seen demand for liquid natural gas (LNG) imports and exports rise to levels not seen in years. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the UK began this winter heating period with low long-term stockpiled levels of LNG, due to issues both at home and abroad. The recent cold weather brought an expected increase in demand across Europe and the UK’s economic situation made UK LNG more attractive to foreign buyers. New deals are also being signed to supply more LNG to the UK to prevent any threat of a shortfall going forward.
A report generated by the Atlantic Council, a highly influential international think-tank based in Washington DC, has called for greater connectivity in the supply for LNG across Europe. It states that current and proposed pipeline development projects need to be moved forward and properly coordinated to ensure gas can flow freely across the continent. The report makes two main suggestions for how this can be accomplished and purports that the major benefits to these hugely ambitious projects will be greater competition with Russian pipeline gas and US LNG in addition to greater energy security for the whole of the EU as countries would no longer be dependent on gas supply from individual countries such as Russia or Norway.
The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) are increasing their investments in LNG exploration, production and pipelines to nearly double their annual output to around 180 billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2020. This comes against a backdrop of low oil and gas prices, a cut in overall investment in the industry and losses recorded so far this year. Whether the move away from oil towards gas is driven by environmental or economic factors is unclear.
With the development of major new European gas pipelines, 'small scale' operations are often overlooked. Spain, despite not producing any LNG themselves, is the biggest exporter of LNG in Europe. This is due to their capability to reload it for small, medium and large applications in large multimodel terminals. Truck loading has played a major part in Spain's share of the export market and in 2015 35,000 trucks were loaded with LNG which represents 80% of the EU's truck loading traffic. Coincidentally, transport is also providing a growing market for LNG as increasing numbers of trucks and ships are powered by it.
As oil and gas companies across the Caspian Sea region have seen profits fall dramatically due to the collapse of the price of oil, many are letting their profits fall further by investing funds in projects to increase their production levels. Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkmenistan are all looking to increase their gas production due to a variety of factors including foreign investment and extra export capacity.
Egypt's demand for gas has long outstripped its supply capacity. At an estimated $8bn this fiscal year, the cost of importing oil and gas is a drain on Egypt's economy. With most of the current oil and gas wells reaching maturity, this situation will only get worse. However, new gas reserve discoveries, changes in government policy and foreign investment look to boost Egypt's gas production to not only negate the deficit but to allow them to export LNG. Presenters at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston stated that they believed Egypt could significantly reduce its LNG imports as soon as 2018 and they anticipate that they could increase their gas production by more than 90bn m3 by 2022.
In the UK, researchers estimate that £25 billion of natural gas is metered using an orifice plate. Vital decisions are made based on this data so it is essential that it is accurate. The international standard, ISO 5167, ensures consistency in equipment and calculations to improve the accuracy of these measurements. Now, in new book, Dr Michael Reader-Harris of flow measurement consultancy NEL, part of the UK measurement infrastructure responsible for the management of the UK National Standard for Flow Measurement, gives operators a greater understanding of the physics and research that underpins the standard.
With the recent tumble in oil prices, it would seem an unlikely time for a company such as Shell to be expanding its natural gas operations. That is exactly what it has done, however, by acquiring BG Group PLC, one of the UK's leading LNG (liquefied natural gas) producers.
A project to create second generation biofuel from agricultural residues is being carried out in Germany in response to the growing need for sustainable energy.