China continues to increase its electricity generation from coal, which was up 7% year over year in the first quarter. As domestic coal production only increased by 4% during this quarter, the result is a surge in demand for imported coal which is expected to be 30 million tons higher this year than last year. Some in the Chinese coal industry are predicting a bright future for coal with imports growing to over 1 billion tons by 2030.
In the North Sea the UK has made a large crude oil discovery 60 miles west of Shetland, off the north coast of Scotland. It is being described as the UK’s “largest undeveloped discovery.” The discovery was made by Hurricane Energy which announced that its Halifax well had found large amounts of oil. This find may be connected with a previous discovery nearby (the Lancaster field) and hence be part of one large accumulation of nearly a billion untapped barrels of crude.
In southwestern China, a new crude oil pipeline through its neighbor Myanmar is allowing China to import crude faster from the Middle East and Africa without having to ship through the Straits of Malacca.
With international crude oil prices in the mid-$50 a barrel range, some OPEC members want to push this number to $60. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, are signaling they will support additional production cuts next month.
With higher oil prices caused by the OPEC and others’ production cuts, US shale oil is coming back on stream. The Texas Railroad Commission issued 1,310 new oil and gas drilling permits to shale producers last month, up from just 511 a year ago. The US shale industry is taking advantage of higher crude oil prices and demand from refiners who have seen their supplies cut by global producers.
US energy firms are scrambling to finish several pipelines that will unleash rich reserves of shale gas in the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio as the country prepares to become one of the world’s largest natural gas exporters. The pipelines are expected to boost output from shale fields in the three states by giving producers access to new domestic and international markets. Those states could supply about a third of all US natural gas once the pipeline expansion is complete, up from about 25% now.
Saudi Arabia will begin seeking bids next week from renewable-energy companies to build wind and solar plants with a combined capacity of 700 megawatts as part of the country’s $50 billion program to boost electric power generation and cut its crude oil consumption. The energy ministry has qualified 27 companies to bid for a 300-megawatt solar plant and 24 firms for a 400-megawatt wind farm.
The price of solar panels dropped by 20% in the past year due in part to a global glut of panels and better technology, according to GTM Research.
Global installed capacity of wind, solar and other renewables rose by a record 11 gigawatts (GW), to 138.5 GW, in 2016. The costs of generating these renewables are now comparable with fossil-fuel plants. But the future of renewables remains vulnerable to government policy changes and to slowing growth in electricity demand.
Japan says it will have a “hydrogen society” by the end of this year. A hydrogen society is one that will rely heavily on the use of fuel cells to generate electricity. These energy systems would replace conventional solutions and will not only produce electricity but heat and power transportation as well. The Asian country wants 40,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2020 and is looking for fuel cell stations t0 provide electricity and heat to homes and businesses.
This week in Saint-Malo, France, the first hydrogen ship to attempt to navigate around the world was launched. (See photo above) The Energy Observer is taking 6 years to visit 50 countries with 101 stopovers. You can see a video of the ship here.
with h/t Tom Whipple
Tags: Africa, China, coal, electricity, energy, fossil fuels, France, fuel, hydrogen, Iraq, Japan, Middle East, oil, OPEC, renewable, saudi arabia, shale, shale gas, shale oil, solar, transportation, UK, US, wind