Asia, Mideast utilities turn to dirtier fuel as LNG prices bite

Asia, Mideast utilities turn to dirtier fuel as LNG prices bite
LNG prices have doubled from this time last year. (AFP)
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Updated 03 September 2021

Asia, Mideast utilities turn to dirtier fuel as LNG prices bite

Asia, Mideast utilities turn to dirtier fuel as LNG prices bite
  • High sulphur fuel oil HSFO demand up as LNG prices soar
  • Forward LNG prices above HSFO into Q1 2022

SINGAPORE: Surging liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices are prompting utilities across Asia and the Middle East to burn more high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) than usual to meet increased power demand during summer, analysts and traders said.
The move toward the cheaper but more polluting HSFO highlights the problems faced by developing countries which have to grapple with the economics of lower costs versus meeting emission-cutting standards.
The strong demand for the residual fuel oil could last beyond the summer as the global economic recovery from the coronavirus gathers momentum and global LNG prices hold firm at more than twice where they averaged in 2020, the analysts said.
“With (spot) LNG prices surpassing HSFO, power generation plants are switching from gas to oil where possible,” said Serena Huang, Vortexa’s Asia lead analyst, highlighting strong power demand in the Middle East, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“Fuel oil imports are likely to rise further as LNG prices continue to head north amid tight supply-demand fundamentals,” said Huang.
Asian spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices are currently at their highest since January and also at their highest for this time of the year since at least 2010.
They are expected to climb further during the northern hemisphere winter when demand for LNG for heating typically surges.
“LNG (imported) into Pakistan is now equivalent to about $250 per ton more expensive than 180-cst (centistoke) HSFO,” a senior Singapore-based fuel oil trader said.
He added that on a forward price basis, spot LNG cargoes are trading above fuel oil prices through the first-quarter of 2022.
“We will see unprecedented switching into first quarter of next year at current prices,” the trader said, noting that fuel switching is already occurring across Asia and the Middle East.
OIL BURNERS BACK ON
Utilities are able to idle gas-fired power plants and restart oil-fired units if the price difference is wide enough and local emissions rules allow.
In South Asia, Pakistan’s fuel oil imports this year are already about 65 percent above 2020’s total, while Bangladesh is considering increasing fuel oil imports by nearly 10 percent in the financial year starting July 1.
“For Bangladesh’s peak electricity demand, HSFO is an economically better option,” a source with a utility in Bangladesh said.
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also stepped up seasonal fuel oil imports amid soaring temperatures and recovering economic activity, trade sources said.
“Scorching temperatures in the Middle East are prolonging cooling demand,” consultancy Energy Aspects said in a report to clients this week, adding that the region’s strong demand has improved the economics of exporting HSFO from Europe to the Middle East lately.

LOW STOCKS
Fuel oil supplies have already been constrained after Middle East producers cut heavy sour crude oil production to meet supply targets set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and as refineries reduced crude throughput.
A fire at a heavy crude Mexican offshore platform in late-August is also expected to curtail fuel oil output, Energy Aspects said.
Global fuel oil inventories across key storage and trading hubs are at, or near, multi-month lows as a result.
Combined with the brisk demand, the tight inventories helped propel the 180-cst HSFO cash premium and front-month time spread to near two-year highs in late-August.
Tighter residual fuel oil supplies and strong demand from Chinese refineries for the cheaper feedstock following a fuel tax overhaul in June are also boosting prices of 0.5 percent very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).
“The time for VLSFO to shine may come later in the winter if cold weather increases demand for liquid fuels in power generation in countries such as Japan and South Korea where LSFO is required,” Energy Aspects said in a note to clients.


QatarEnergy signs deal with ExxonMobil Canada on farm-in exploration license

QatarEnergy signs deal with ExxonMobil Canada on farm-in exploration license
Getty Images
Updated 17 sec ago

QatarEnergy signs deal with ExxonMobil Canada on farm-in exploration license

QatarEnergy signs deal with ExxonMobil Canada on farm-in exploration license
  • The Hampden exploration well activities are planned in deep water, 450 km off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador

QatarEnergy has signed a deal for a 40 percent stake in one of ExxonMobil’s major offshore explorations in Canada, the Qatar state-owned oil and gas firm said on Sunday.


The deal marks QatarEnergy’s first foray into offshore exploration in Canada, the company said in a statement.


The agreement will give QatarEnergy a farm-in exploration license for EL 1165A, currently held by ExxonMobil Canada.


The Hampden exploration well activities are planned in deep water, 450 km off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. ExxonMobil Canada will retain the remaining interest in the exploration.


Over the past two years, Qatar Energy has expanded internationally, gaining stakes in oil and gas projects around the world by signing deals with major energy companies, including ExxonMobil.


Qatar is the world's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas and aims to expand production to 127 million tonnes annually by 2027 from the current 77 million tonnes.


Gazprom could cut gas to Moldova if contract not signed

Gazprom could cut gas to Moldova if contract not signed
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 26 min 25 sec ago

Gazprom could cut gas to Moldova if contract not signed

Gazprom could cut gas to Moldova if contract not signed
  • Moldova's contract with Gazprom ran out in September

Moscow's Gazprom could cut Moldova's gas supply if the country does not settle its bill and sign a new contract, the energy giant's top official was quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency as saying.


Moldova declared a 30-day state of emergency on Friday in an effort to secure the ex-Soviet country cheaper natural gas from Europe after Moscow - its traditional supplier - raised prices.


Gazprom's Sergei Kupriyanov said Chisinau owed the company $709 million (610 million euros).


Moldova's contract with Gazprom ran out in September, but Kupriyanov said the pair were able to "meet half way" and extend a contract for October.


"If payment for gas supplies is not fully paid and a contract is not signed from December, then Gazprom will halt gas supplies to Moldova," he told Interfax.


The country of 2.6 million people wedged between Romania and Ukraine gets gas from Russia via its pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria and Ukraine.


Gazprom this month hiked prices more than 40 percent to $790 per thousand cubic metres from $550 - a level Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said was "not justified and not realistic" for Europe's poorest country.


Despite the contract being extended, Moldovan Prime Minster Natalia Gavrilita said on Friday the country was receiving a third less natural gas than usual for October.


"We face a critical situation," she said.


She told parliament Moldova would be seeking supplies from EU countries and thanked Romania and Ukraine for already providing some gas.


The month-long state of emergency, which will last until November 20, gives Moldovan utility company Energocom the powers to secure gas from other countries.


The country's gas shortages come amid skyrocketing gas prices that some in Europe have blamed on Moscow not providing additional supplies to put pressure on the continent.


Saudi industrial sector grows on MODON-led initiatives: Knight Frank

Saudi industrial sector grows on MODON-led initiatives: Knight Frank
Updated 30 min 56 sec ago

Saudi industrial sector grows on MODON-led initiatives: Knight Frank

Saudi industrial sector grows on MODON-led initiatives: Knight Frank
  • The consultancy firm said the “fast-paced growth” is due to initiatives by MODON, or the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones

DUBAI: Investments in Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector grew 281 percent in the last 12 months, global property consultant Knight Frank showed, attributing it to strong regulatory support. 

The consultancy firm said the “fast-paced growth” is due to initiatives by MODON, or the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, which include offering new products and services such as warehouses, self-storage units, and financing solutions. 

“The 281% jump in industrial sector investments in the last 12 months has delivered a staggering 30,000 new jobs across the Kingdom,” Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank, said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a big role in the Kingdom’s industrial sector, as online shopping drove a surge in requirements for better logistics facilities, Durrani said. 

“We do not expect a let-up in online shopping and indeed the government forecasts revenues for the sector to close in on SR30 billion ($8 billion) this year, up from SR24.7 billion in 2020,” he added.

This strong market performance has also led to rising lease rates and occupancy levels in industrial real estate in the Kingdom — 7 percent growth in Riyadh, and 4.5 percent increase in Jeddah.

“Riyadh in particular is expected to outperform Jeddah as stock levels have remained unchanged so far this year. Indeed, over the last six months, prime rents have increased by close to 8%, while grade B rents have retreated by 3.5,” Durrani explained. 

The Knight Frank researcher said developers traditionally “developed warehouse and logistics facilities based on speculative demand, while built-to-suit stock has always been limited.”


Saudi food giant NADEC appoints Solaiman Altwaijri as new managing director

Saudi food giant NADEC appoints Solaiman Altwaijri as new managing director
Updated 45 min 46 sec ago

Saudi food giant NADEC appoints Solaiman Altwaijri as new managing director

Saudi food giant NADEC appoints Solaiman Altwaijri as new managing director
  • NADEC's new managing director has extensive experience in the field of investment, industry, business development and corporate transformation

RIYADH: The National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) appointed Solaiman Abdulaziz Altwaijri as its new managing director, taking effect as of November 1, 2021, a bourse filing revealed.

Altwaijri was the chief executive officer of Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., and he was a chairman and member of many boards of directors and committees for many listed companies inside and outside the Kingdom. He also managed a number of industrial, agricultural and investment companies. 

NADEC's new managing director has extensive experience in the field of investment, industry, business development and corporate transformation for more than 25 years through holding a number of leadership positions, the company said in a statement on Saudi Stock Market (Tadawul).

Altwaijri holds a Ph.D. in Accounting from Case Western Reserve University in the US and a Master's degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois.


Private Saudi medical group Sulaiman Al Habib sees 35% profit rise

Private Saudi medical group Sulaiman Al Habib sees 35% profit rise
Updated 51 min 8 sec ago

Private Saudi medical group Sulaiman Al Habib sees 35% profit rise

Private Saudi medical group Sulaiman Al Habib sees 35% profit rise

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s biggest private medical group Sulaiman Al Habib reported a net profit of SR993 million for the first nine months of 2021, an increase of 35 percent from a year earlier.