Monday, August 8, 2016

Germany's coal imports expected to fall in 2016

Germany will likely import the same amount of hard coal in 2016 as last year, lobby group VDKi said on Thursday, citing rising demand from steelmakers but lower usage in power stations due to rival renewable energy.

Coal is still the backbone of power generation in Europe’s biggest economy, which is seeking to move away from nuclear and fossil power to renewable energy. Two thirds of German coal imports go to power utilities, just under a third to the steel sector, and the remainder to heating providers.

“Imports so far this year are still weak because weather patterns have driven higher renewable generation, but steelmakers are seeing a recovery to normal production levels after a trough,” VDKi’s managing director Franz-Josef Wodopia told a news conference.

germany gross electricity generation by source

“We expect stagnant coal imports for the full year.”

German imports monitored by VDKi’s 70 member companies in 2015 rose to 57.5 million tonnes, up 2.3 percent from 2014, as coal’s relatively low price vis-a-vis gas, due to an industry downturn, raised its uses in the electricity sector.

Germany used hard coal for 18 percent of its 2015 electricity generation, of which 90 percent was imported, while 25 percent of power generation came from domestic brown coal.

Turning to 2016, VDKi chairman Wolfgang Cieslik said that steel manufacturers had reported a 4-percent gain in year-on-year output in May after six months of lower production.

“This shows first signs of a stabilisation,” he said.

But coal-to-power plants struggle increasingly against competition from renewables, which are given priority access to power grids, he said.

Around 30 percent of power already comes from energy that is subsidised at fixed tariffs, although latest reforms will usher in an auction-based system to create market-based prices as from next year.

Still, as a result of the old system an increasing number of coal-fired plants cannot produce at full stretch and keep losing market share.

Germany has legislated to become virtually carbon-free by 2050, through a steady replacement of thermal power with that from wind and solar energy.

Cieslik said that more coal plant closures were on their way, reducing VDKi’s customer base.

Power network operators calculate that by 2030, German hard coal-to-power station capacity will fall by between 12 and 52 percent from 2014’s 26 gigawatt (GW) level, to 11-23 GW.

Germany’s top coal suppliers are Russia, Colombia, the United States and Australia

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Employment in oil and natural gas extraction and support activities continued declining

Monthly oil and natural gas rig count and brent price

Despite increases in crude oil prices since the start of the year, employment in oil and natural gas extraction and support activities continued declining from levels reached in the fall of 2014, just before the onset of falling oil prices. The total rig count (including both oil-directed and natural gas-directed rigs) has declined even more sharply, from nearly 1,800 rigs in the fall of 2014 to a weekly low of 404 rigs in May 2016. Crude oil production has also declined, but to a much lesser extent than either employment or rig counts, while natural gas production has leveled off.

Employment in oil and natural gas production reached a high of 538,000 jobs in October 2014. Since then, oil and natural gas production employment declined 26%, a loss of more than 142,000 jobs through May 2016, based on the latest jobs data available. The total decrease in production jobs is nearly three times the 51,000 jobs lost over a 13-month period during the 2008–09 recession. Not all production jobs are directly related to drilling—the majority of the jobs are actually for extraction or support activities, which include the operations of drilled wells, exploration, excavation, well surveying, casing work, and well construction. This also includes the maintenance of already producing wells.

The effects of the reduction in drilling and employment in crude oil and natural gas production have been relatively modest, with production levels in May down 6% and 1%, respectively, relative to their level in May 2015. Compared to October 2014, the peak month for employment in the sector, May 2016 crude oil production was 2% lower, while natural gas production was flat.

The divergence between trends in rig counts and employment on the one hand and oil and the trends of natural gas production on the other are attributable to increases in production per new well in key regions, driven in part by advances in siting and drilling technology. For instance, new-well oil production per rig so far in 2016 has been more than twice its 2013 level in areas such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian. Growing offshore crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has also helped to offset declines in Lower 48 onshore production.

Monthly U.S crude oil rig count and production

Monthly U.S natural rig count and production

Friday, August 5, 2016

North American electricity from renewable and nuclear will grow 45% in 2025.

North America electricity generation mix

Based on results from EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case and International Energy Outlook 2016, EIA projects that the North American share of energy generation from renewable and nuclear energy sources will grow from 38% in 2015 to 45% in 2025. This projection assumes the Clean Power Plan (CPP) is upheld and takes effect in the United States. A recent agreement among Canada, Mexico, and the United States established a goal of 50% of electricity generation from clean energy sources by 2025.

The trilateral agreement goal includes nuclear, renewables, and energy efficiency as eligible sources of clean energy, but it does not specify a baseline for assessing energy efficiency, which has been improving over time. The EIA projections discussed here focus solely on electricity generation from nuclear and renewable sources as a share of total generation. Substantial increases in demand-side energy efficiency are included in EIA's projection for overall electricity demand, but explicit accounting of energy efficiency contributions are not projected. Moreover, these values reflect the Reference case projections; other assumptions for fuel prices, technology costs, and policies could affect the electricity generation mix.

Electricity generation in the United States currently represents more than 80% of total generation in North America. EIA's AEO2016 Reference case assumes that implentation of the CPP will begin in 2022. The extension of certain tax credits, significant cost reductions, and recognition of future CPP requirements result in a large increase in renewable generation between 2015 and 2025. U.S. coal-fired generation is expected to decline by 13% between 2015 and 2025 in the AEO Reference case, while natural gas-fired generation increases by 4%.