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U.S. LNG exports up by 272% as EU and U.S. host High-Level B2B Energy Forum

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U.S. liquefied natural gas exports up by 272% as EU and U.S. host High-Level Business-to-Business Energy Forum.

In their Joint Statement of 25 July 2018 in Washington D.C., President Juncker and President Trump agreed to strengthen EU-U.S. strategic cooperation with respect to energy. They came in particular to an understanding on the benefits of expanded exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the EU gas market.

Since the first cargo in April 2016 U.S. LNG exports to the EU have been increasing substantially and have seen a steep rise after President Trump and President Juncker’s meeting in July 2018 increasing by 272%. As a result, March 2019 recorded the highest volume ever of EU-U.S. trade in LNG with more than 1.4 billion cubic metres.

Today, top energy business executives from both sides of the Atlantic meet in Brussels to discuss further ways to enhance LNG trade, the role that competitively-priced U.S.-LNG can play on the EU market and the growing opportunities for using LNG in the transport sector. This High-Level Energy Forum, opened by EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, gives American and European businesses the opportunity to chart further actions to fully harvest commercial opportunities in the LNG trade. These will range from new infrastructure for upstream development, liquefaction and re-gasification to pipeline network distribution as well as new business models and financial instruments in a changing market. It also provides U.S. and European decision-makers from companies in the LNG sector with match-making and deal-making opportunities.

The gathering, which is a clear signal of the strengthened of EU-U.S. cooperation in the field of energy, provided a further occasion for EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete to meet with the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and discuss broader aspects of EU-US energy relations.

Speaking after the meeting, Commissioner for Energy and Climate Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Energy security is one of the key success stories of our transatlantic cooperation and one where we both have a keen mutual interest. It is therefore our common objective to further deepen our energy cooperation. Natural gas will remain an important component of the EU’s energy mix in the near future as we move towards cleaner sources of energy. Given our heavy dependence on imports, U.S. liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said: “Today’s discussion follows on last July’s joint statement by President Trump and President Juncker on strengthening our strategic energy partnership. We share a history of transatlantic cooperation, through good times and bad, and together we promote our heritage of freedom. The strength of this relationship can particularly be seen in energy. When it comes to natural gas, we each have what the other needs to derive tremendous mutual benefit from advancing our energy relationship.”

Increased imports of U.S. LNG contribute to the EU’s goal of diversification of energy supply. Competitive, fluid and stable, the EU gas market is the second biggest single gas market in the world after the U.S.

European gas imports are projected to increase in the years to come as its domestic production is decreasing, while demand is projected to remain at a comparable level as gas has been identified as an important transition fuel in the EU’s efforts to decarbonise its economy.

Development of liquefied natural gas capacities in the EU

The EU has well-developed liquefied natural gas import capacities, with about 150 billion cubic meters currently spare. At the same time, given their strategic importance for diversification and supply security, current capacities are being expanded and new capacities are being developed. Most recent developments include:

The signature of a grant agreement between the Polish government and the Polskie LNG company for the extension of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Świnoujście, in north-western Poland on the Baltic Sea coast, on 24 April. The EU invested almost €128 million from the European Regional Development Fund in extending this terminal, this comes on top of €224 million already invested under the previous funding period.

The final investment decision of the LNG terminal on the island of Krk in Croatia in January 2019. The EU has contributed with a total of €124 million(including €108 million for the terminal and €16 million for the evacuation pipeline).

The EU is also supporting capacity developments in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Sweden and Cyprus, a detailed table is available online. The EU estimates that by 2022 all Member States (but Malta and Cyprus) will have access to three sources of gas and 23 Member States will have access to the global LNG market.

Increase of LNG Imports from the U.S.

Since July 2018, cumulative EU imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. have increased by 272%.With a share of 12.6% of EU-LNG imports in 2019 so far, the U.S. is Europe’s third biggest supplier of LNG, while Europe has emerged the primary destination of the U.S. LNG in January to February this year ahead of Asia. The European Union is ready to facilitate more imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S., if the market conditions are right and prices competitive. This will allow U.S. exporters to further strengthen their position on European markets whilst contributing to the EU’s objectives of security of supply and diversification.

Current figures show that:

In the nine months since the 25 July 2018 Joint Statement, cumulative EU imports of U.S. LNG are up by 272% relative to the period beforehand, a total of 10.4 billion cubic meters (bcm).

In terms of the EU’s total imports of LNG, the U.S. share was 13.4% over the last six months, compared to 2.3% before the Joint Statement.

Since early 2016, the EU has received more than 110 LNG cargoes from the U.S. In 2017 Europe represented more than 10% of total U.S. LNG exports, up from 5% in 2016. In the 2018 calendar year, some 11% of US LNG exports went to the EU market. However, in the 9-month period since the Joint Statement (August 2018 – April 2019), this share rises to nearly 30%.

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Impact of COVID-19 on Commodity Markets Heaviest on Energy Prices

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While metal and agricultural commodities have recouped their losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to make modest gains in 2021, energy prices, despite some recovery, are expected to stabilize below pre-pandemic levels next year, the World Bank said.

Oil prices fell dramatically in the early stages of COVID-19 and have only partially regained pre-pandemic price levels, while metal prices declined relatively modestly and have returned to levels that preceded the shock, according to the semi-annual Commodity Markets Outlook report. Agriculture prices were relatively unaffected by the pandemic, but the number of people at risk of food insecurity has risen as a result of the broader effects of the global recession.

“The impact of COVID-19 on commodities has been uneven, and could have lasting effects for energy markets,” said Ayhan Kose, World Bank Group Acting Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance & Institutions and Director for the Prospects Group. “When declines in commodity prices are short-lived, policy stimulus can buffer their impact. However, when prices remain depressed for an extended period, policy makers need to find solutions so their economies can adjust smoothly to a new normal. Because of COVID-19, the new normal for oil-exporting emerging and developing economies arrived earlier. In the post-COVID world, these countries need to be more aggressive in implementing policies to reduce their reliance on oil revenues.”

Oil prices are expected to average $44 per barrel in 2021, up from an estimated $41 per barrel in 2020. Demand is expected to rise only slowly as tourism and travel continue to be held back by health concerns and as global economic activity is anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels only in the year after next. Supply restraint is expected to be eased steadily.  Energy prices overall —which also include natural gas and coal—are expected to rebound sizably in 2021, following large declines in 2020, an upward revision from April’s forecast. A resurgence of a second wave of the pandemic that results in more lockdowns and less consumption, and delays in vaccine development and distribution, could lead to lower energy prices than forecast.

Metal prices are expected to post modest increases in 2021 after falling in 2020, supported by the ongoing recovery in the global economy and continued stimulus from China. A prolonged period of weak global growth would lead to lower prices than forecast.

Agriculture prices are expected to rise slightly in 2021, following an estimated 3% increase in 2020 following some shortfall in edible oil production. Concerns about food insecurity remain relevant in several emerging market and developing economies. These concerns are prompted by hits to incomes from the global recession, bottlenecks in food availability at the local level, and border restrictions that have constrained labor supply. Food price inflation has spiked in several countries.

The pandemic is only the latest in a long history of shocks to commodity markets. A Special Focus looks at the nature of commodity price shocks on 27 commodities during 1970-2019. It finds that highly persistent (“permanent”) and short-lived (“transitory”) shocks have contributed almost equally to commodity price variation, although with wide variety across commodities. Permanent shocks account for most of agricultural commodity price variability while transitory shocks are more relevant in industrial commodity prices. The varied duration of such shocks points to a need for policy flexibility.

 A transitory commodity price shock may call for stimulative fiscal policy to smooth consumption; countries that depend on exports of commodities subject to cyclical price swings may want to build fiscal buffers during the boom phase and use them in the bust period to support economic activity. In countries that rely heavily on commodities that are subject to permanent shocks, structural policies such as economic diversification and broadening the tax base may be needed to facilitate adjustments to new economic environments.

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Countries Raise the Sails on Offshore Renewables Sector

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Offshore renewables, including offshore wind, wave, tidal, ocean thermal, and floating solar PV, will witness substantial growth in capacity over the next decade and play an essential role in the global energy transformation. In this context, representatives from 40 countries gathered to identify collaboration areas and agree on concrete actions to accelerate progress and ensure rapid uptake of these promising technologies.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) projections, global offshore wind and ocean energy installed capacity will reach 228 GW and 10 GW respectively by 2030.

During his welcoming remarks, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera stressed offshore renewables’ importance in meeting growing energy demands and improving living conditions. “Offshore renewables have the potential to meet more than four times the global energy demand of today, foster a blue economy, and bring socio-economic benefits to some of the most vulnerable areas to climate change such as small island territories and coastal areas,” he said.

The Collaborative Framework on Ocean Energy/Offshore Renewables first met on 25 June 2020, during which Members and States in Accession provided inputs on the thematic scope of the Collaborative Framework and agreed to include relevant stakeholders in future meetings. In response, this second meeting of the Collaborative Framework, moderated by H.E Ambassador ‘Akau’ola, Tonga’s Permanent Representative to IRENA, included participation, insights, and support from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Ocean Energy Europe (OEE).

Currently, 90% of global installed offshore wind capacity is commissioned and operated in the North Sea and the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, attributed the rapid uptake of offshore wind in Europe to regional cooperation on interconnection, marine spatial planning (MSP), and sector coupling in the North Sea. Mr. Backwell highlighted the critical role that the Collaborative Framework can play in fostering similar regional partnerships in other parts of the world.

Representing the ocean energy sector in the Collaborative Framework, Mr. Rémi Gruet, CEO of OEE, suggested that ocean energy will become a game-changer, estimating that the sector can provide more than 1.2 million jobs worldwide by 2050. Mr. Gruet also underscored the predictability of ocean energy, which complements the variable renewable energy sources, as a compelling reason to make wave and tidal energy technologies essential additions to power systems that will be dominated by solar PV and wind.

Members also agreed on 13 topics of focus for the Collaborative Framework, around the areas of technology development, research and innovation, market incentives, and sustainability. The topics include analyses on accelerating technology cost reduction, grid integration, resource mapping, and coupling of offshore renewables with Power-to-X technologies. Participants also indicated the important role of IRENA and the Collaborative Framework in moving a global Offshore Renewables agenda forward in other relevant multilateral venues including the G20 and the COP26.

IRENA Members also agreed on modalities for future meetings under the Collaborative Framework, including the selection of Italy and Tonga as co-facilitators.

IRENA

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South Africa: industrial energy efficiency project wins international award

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South Africa’s largest energy efficiency initiative: Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement in South Africa through Mainstreaming the Introduction of Energy Management Systems and Energy Systems Optimization, has won the highest international accolade for an energy programme – the International Energy Project of the Year – awarded by the global Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

The project, which has been led by South Africa’s National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC-SA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) since 2010, received the award in recognition of its efforts to transform energy use patterns in South African industry and to mainstream energy management systems across economic sectors.

Since the project began in 2011, it has successfully trained 39 SANS/ISO 50001 lead auditors, held more than 320 training workshops, and achieved the participation of more than 150 large companies and 227 small and medium-sized enterprises. The project team has assisted industrial companies in saving 6.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy, representing cumulative cost savings of R5.3 billion (270m.) for these companies.

The AEE’s International Awards recognize achievements in energy around the world. According to the organizers’ official communication, the awards identify those who exemplify the very best in their fields, and recognize the important work that is being done by individuals, organizations, agencies and corporations.

The AEE International Project of the Year award was accepted by national project manager, Alf Hartzenburg of the NCPC-SA, at the AEE International Virtual Awards ceremony. AEE members and executives from around the world responded with enthusiastic accolades when the summary of the IEE project achievements was read by the chairperson of the awards committee. 

The IEE project, currently its second phase, funded by the Global Environment Facility, is set to run until December 2021. Other IEE project phase II partners include South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, which funds the NCPC-SA, the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and its agency, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).

According to Hartzenburg, what sets this project apart is that it partners with and equips industry to tackle practical energy management in companies of all sizes.

He said, “Through expert-level training of industry professionals, demonstration of actual impact and methodologies aligned to international standard ISO50001, the project partners have ensured that both the skills and the appetite exist to implement energy management.”

Hartzenburg continued, “The benefits are made clear in the energy savings, which result in direct financial savings on utilities and other energy sources, and we don’t leave the companies to go it alone, but support them with skills and financial linkages, where possible.”

Hartzenburg believes that the return to post-lockdown operations offers companies an ideal opportunity to consider changes that will ultimately save them operating costs, thus aiding in the recovery process and long-term sustainability.

“SANS/ISO 50001, the energy management best practice standard, actually saves companies money. We are offering companies technical support to comply with this standard, and even some financial support if they want to apply for certification through the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).”

Hartzenburg said his team is particularly proud of the huge environmental impact of the project. “Energy savings, particularly in a fossil-fuel based economy such as South Africa, have a direct climate mitigation benefit – which is why the GEF has funded our second phase.”

Based on internationally accepted calculations, the NCPC-SA reports that energy saved by companies through the IEE project has mitigated 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) since April 2011 when the first savings were measured.

SANEDI is working with the information gathered through the NCPC-SA interventions, and is using them together with relevant international and national energy trends to inform national energy and policy planning, including the adaptation of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy.

Rana Ghoneim, head of UNIDO’s Energy Systems and Infrastructure Division, said the award was an excellent recognition of the strong ownership, committed leadership and multi-stakeholder partnership that is driving industrial energy efficiency in South Africa.  “The programme has always been a great example, inspiring other countries within the UNIDO global programme, where its impacts transcend beyond South Africa.”

The IEE project has a strong focus on gender mainstreaming and promoting the participation of women in energy. To date, 43% of the professionals trained through the project are female.

The project also includes awareness-raising in its activities, as evidence strongly supports the idea that sustained energy savings are brought about through behaviour change. This active communication approach made the project an even stronger candidate for the AEE International Award which encourages projects with “significant success in savings and/or visibility”.

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