Mexico eyes future as LNG exporter

  • Market: Natural gas
  • 05/11/20

The completion of key pipeline projects has made Mexico confident that it could export LNG in the future, but its plans face tough competition.

The completion of the final leg of Mexican firm Fermaca's 5bn ft³/d (141.5mn m³/d) Wahalajara pipeline network last month marked the beginning of the end for the country's pipeline build-out. Ramped-up pipeline flows from the US have already reduced Mexico's reliance on LNG imports in recent months, and with US gas now reaching most of the country, Mexico may even have surplus volumes that it could export as LNG.

The prospect of Mexico exporting LNG was "unthinkable 5-6 years ago", Fermaca subsidiary Santa Fe Gas chief executive Santiago Garcia said, rejecting suggestions that increasing market competition could make such plans challenging. Growing Asian demand will require continuous growth of global liquefaction capacity, and the location of planned export facilities on Mexico's Pacific coast — which would eliminate the need to transit the Panama canal — will give Mexican facilities a competitive advantage, he added.

US firm Sempra Energy's Mexican arm plans to convert the existing Energia Costa Azul (ECA) import terminal on the country's Pacific coast into a liquefaction facility, with a final investment decision (FID) expected by the end of this year. There could also be scope for the 3.2mn t/yr Manzanillo import facility to be converted into a liquefaction facility, using gas supply through the Wahalajara pipeline, Garcia said. Alternative options would see Manzanillo continuing to receive LNG for periodic back-up supply or operate as a storage facility, he added.

Such plans face numerous headwinds. An FID on the ECA facility has been delayed multiple times despite Mexican private-sector firm IEnova already securing offtake agreements for the entire terminal's planned capacity, with the firm encountering difficulties in securing an export license. In July, Shell also filed an arbitration claim related to its storage contract at the terminal. The granting of ECA's export license could also depend on IEnova's agreement to build a second LNG export facility in Topolobampo, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador suggested last month.

Mexico will also have to compete for a market share with other large-scale export projects, such as those planned in Mozambique, as well as Qatar's planned expansion of the Ras Laffan complex. The global LNG market is expected to remain oversupplied until 2025, with the planned increase in liquefaction capacity set to outpace demand growth, the Paris-based IEA said in June. This coupled with the uncertain impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global gas demand has further weakened appetite for investments in LNG projects, as low prices and buyers' reluctance to secure long-term deals "severely constrain capital budgets among developers", the IEA said.

While the geographical location could give Mexican facilities a logistical advantage, such projects would have to rely on gas imports from the US rather than on domestic production, especially given declining domestic output and the Mexican government's reluctance to carry out hydraulic fracturing, Garcia said. New domestic production in Mexico would have to be sold at $4.00-4.50/mn Btu in order to break even, Garcia said, making it uncompetitive with gas imports from the Permian basin.

With declining upstream production in Mexico and domestic demand set to grow further in the coming years, the issue of how to use the imported gas is also a divisive one. "Some are of the view that the pipeline imports should be for Mexico only," Garcia said, adding that the domestic network would need further development for domestic demand to develop further.

Mexico's network expansion is "behind the last mile", but the Mexican system is still "20-30 years behind" US infrastructure, head of government affairs at Fermaca, Fernando Alonso, said. New interconnectors are need to avoid bottle-necking on a number of lines, including the the 886mn ft³/d Villa de Reyes-Aguascalientes-Guadalajara (VAG) pipeline. The two largest pipeline systems in the 25-line build-out, the Wahalajara and Texas-Tuxpan systems, are still operating at less than 50pc, while delays to completing the 886mn ft³/d Tuxpan-Tula and 886mn ft³/d Tula-Villa de Reyes pipelines have led to bottlenecks on the Texas-Tuxpan line.

Mexican domestic production bn ft³/d

Mexico's LNG imports '000t

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24/05/24

Q&A: Shell Oman to balance upstream with renewables

Q&A: Shell Oman to balance upstream with renewables

Dubai, 24 May (Argus) — Shell has been in Oman for decades now and had a front row seat to its energy evolution from primarily an oil producing nation to now a very gas-rich and gas-leaning hydrocarbons producer. Argus spoke to Shell Oman's country chairman Walid Hadi about the company's energy strategy in the sultanate. Edited highlights follow: How would you characterize Oman's energy sector today, and where do new energies fit into that? Oman is one of the countries where there is quite a bit of overlap between how we see the energy transition and how the country sees it. Oman is clear that hydrocarbons will continue to play a role in its energy system for a long period of time. But it is also looking to decrease the carbon intensity to the most extent which is viable. We need to work on creating new energy systems or new components of energy system like hydrogen and EV charging to facilitate that. It is what we would like to call a 'just transition' because you think about it from macroeconomic perspective of the country and its economic health. Shell is involved across the energy spectrum in Oman – from upstream gas to alternative, clean energies. What is Shell's overall strategy for the country? In Oman, our strategic foundation has three main pillars. The first is around oil and liquids and our ambition is to sustain oil and liquids production. At the same time, we aim to significantly reduce carbon intensity from the oil production coming from PDO. The second strategic pillar is gas, and our ambition here is to grow the amount of gas we are producing in Oman and also to help Oman grow its LNG export capabilities. The more committed we are in unlocking the gas reserves in the country, the more we can support Oman's growth, diversification, and the resilience of its economy through investments and LNG revenue. Gas also offers a very logical and nice link into blue and green hydrogen, whether in sequence or as a stepping stone to scale the hydrogen economy in the country. The last strategic pillar is to establish low-carbon value chains, predominantly centered around hydrogen, more likely blue hydrogen in the short term and very likely material green in the long term, which is subject to regulations and markets developing. How would you view Oman's potential to be a major exporter of green hydrogen? When examining the foundational aspects of green hydrogen manufacturing, such as the quality of solar and wind resources and their onshore complementarity, Oman emerges as a highly competitive country in terms of its capabilities. But where we are in technology and where we are in global markets and on policy frameworks — the demand centers for green hydrogen are maturing but not yet matured. I think there will be a period of discovery for green hydrogen globally, not just for Oman, in the way LNG started 20-30 years ago. When it does, Oman will be well-positioned to play global role in the global hydrogen economy. But the question is, how much time it is going to take us and what kind of multi-collaboration needs to be in place to enable that? The realisation of this potential hinges on several factors: the policies of the Omani government, its bilateral ties with Japan, Korea, and the EU, and the technological advancements within the industry. Shell has also been looking at developing CCUS opportunities in the country. How big a role can CCUS play in the region's energy transition? CCUS is going to be an important tool in decarbonising the global energy system. We have several projects globally that we are pursuing for own scope 1, scope 2 emissions reductions, as well as to enable scope 3 emissions with the customers and partners In Oman, we are pursuing a blue hydrogen project where CCUS is a clear component. This initiative serves as a demonstrative case, helping us gauge the country's potential for CCUS implementation. We are using that as a proof point to understand the potential for CCUS in the country. At this stage, it's too early to gauge the scale of CCUS adoption in Oman or our specific role within it. However, we are among the pioneers in establishing the initial proof point through our Blue Hydrogen initiative. You were able to kick off production in block 10 in just over a year after signing the agreement. How are things progressing there? We have started producing at the plateau levels that we agreed with the government, which is just above 500mn ft³/d. Block 10 gas is sold to the government, through the government-owned Integrated Gas Company (IGC), which so far has been the entity that purchases gas from various operators in Oman like us, Shell. IGC then allocates that gas on a certain policy and value criteria across different sectors. We will require new gas if we are going to expand LNG in Oman. There is active gas exploration happening there in Block 10. We know there is more potential in the block. We still don't know at what scale it can be produce gas or the reservoir's characteristics. But blocks 10 and 11 are a combination of undiscovered and discovered resources. We are aiming to significantly increase gas production through a substantial boost. However, the exact scale and timing of this expansion will only be discernible upon the conclusion of our two-year exploration campaign in the block. We expect to understand the full growth potential by around mid to late 2025. Do you have any updates on block 11? Has exploration work there begun? We did have a material gas discovery which is being appraised this year, but it is a bit too early to draw conclusions at this stage. So, after the appraisal campaign is completed, we will be able to talk more confidently about the production potential. Exploration is a very uncertain business. You must go after a lot of things and only a few will end up working. We have a very aggressive exploration campaign at the moment. We also expect by the end of 2025, we would be in a much better position to determine the next wave of growth and where it is going to come from. Shell is set to become the largest off taker from Oman LNG, how do you view the LNG markets this year and next? As a company, we are convinced, that the demand for LNG will grow and it needs to grow if the world is going to achieve the energy transition Gas must play a role, it has to play a bigger role globally over the time, mainly to replace coal in power generation and given its higher efficiency and lower carbon intensity fuel in the energy mix. While Oman may not be the largest LNG exporter globally or hold the most significant gas reserves, it is a niche player in the gas sector with a sophisticated and high-quality gas infrastructure. Oman's resource base remains robust, driving ongoing exploration and investment efforts. This growth trajectory includes catering to domestic needs and servicing industrial hubs like Duqm and Sohar, alongside allocating resources for export purpose. We have the ambition to grow gas for domestic purpose and for gas for eventual exports Have you identified any international markets to export LNG? We have been historically and predominantly focused on east and we continue to see east as core LNG market with focus on Japan, Korea, and China. Europe has also emerged on the back of the Ukraine-Russia crisis as growing demand center for LNG. Over time we might focus on different markets to a certain extent. It will be driven on maximising value for the country. By Rithika Krishna Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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India’s AMNS signs 10-year LNG supply deal with Shell


23/05/24
News
23/05/24

India’s AMNS signs 10-year LNG supply deal with Shell

Mumbai, 23 May (Argus) — Indian steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel (AMNS) has signed a 10-year deal to buy LNG from Shell, with deliveries to start from 2027, people with direct knowledge of the matter have said. Under the terms of the deal, the steelmaker's direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in the western Gujarat state of Hazira will receive 500,000 t/yr of LNG, Argus understands. The Hazira plant has crude steel production capacity of 8.8mn t/yr, according to ArcelorMittal's 2023 annual report. As much as 65pc of the capacity is based on DRI. AMNS also has a deal with TotalEnergies for 500,000 t/yr that is scheduled to expire in 2026 . This deal comes at a time when AMNS plans to expand its steel capacity to 20mn t/yr in the long run . This supply pact also underscores a trend in the global steel industry to use cleaner energy sources to produce the so-called 'green steel'. The firm imports up to 75pc of its 1.72mn t in natural gas requirements on an annualised basis, a source said. The deal was signed at a 11.5pc percentage of Brent crude prices, trading firms said, adding that this is so far the lowest-heard slope for an Indian term LNG supply contract. AMNS sought LNG supply for a period of 5-10 years starting in 2027 under a tender that closed in mid-March. The firm last sought long-term LNG in 2022 through a tender for 400,000 t/yr of LNG to be delivered across 2025-30. Indian importers will continue to seek term supply despite softening spot prices, mostly to hedge their risks in a market that can still be volatile, trading companies said. The Argus front-month price for LNG deliveries to India was assessed at $11.50/mn Btu today, up from $10.16/mn Btu a week earlier. The price reached as high as $48.30/mn Btu in August 2022. The firm has lowered its carbon emissions by 32pc in calendar year 2022 from 2015 levels, it said. By Rituparna Ghosh Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Shell to step up gas exploration in Oman


23/05/24
News
23/05/24

Shell to step up gas exploration in Oman

Dubai, 23 May (Argus) — Shell Oman is actively looking to explore more wells in the sultanate's onshore blocks after production reached a "little above" the plateau target of 500mn ft³/d (5.2bn m³/yr) in its core block 10 this month, according to the oil company's country chairman, Walid Hadi. Hadi told Argus that the company has embarked on an "aggressive exploration" campaign to unlock the potential in Oman's core onshore blocks 10 and 11 in which Shell has operating stakes. The blocks are part of the gas-rich Greater Barik area in the northern segment of state-controlled PDO's block 6 concession in the central region of Oman. "Oman is a niche gas sector," Hadi said. "It may not be the biggest LNG exporter in the world, but there is quite a sophisticated and high-quality gas system in place." Shell, which is also the majority private shareholder in state-owned Oman LNG, expects to boost gas production for domestic purposes and eventually for exports, according to Hadi. "We will require new gas if we are going into LNG," he said. "We know there is more potential in the blocks, but we still don't know at what scale it can produce as the two blocks are a combination of undiscovered and discovered resources." TotalEnergies said earlier this year that Oman LNG was eyeing a fourth train at its 11.4mn t/yr Qalhat LNG export terminal, having already added 1mn t/yr in liquefaction capacity through plant debottlenecking. Hadi said that Shell is planning on a "material increase" in gas production and would be able to conclude the growth potential of the blocks by mid or late 2025, when it completes the exploration programme. Gas from block 10 is sold to the government through the Integrated Gas Company, which is the entity that allocates the gas across different sectors based on certain policies and value criteria, according to Hadi. Shell has a 53.45pc stake in the block, with Marsa LNG and OQ holding 33.19pc and 13.36pc, respectively. The partners signed the concession agreement for block 10 in December 2021. The adjacent block 11 was awarded to OQ and TotalEnergies in 2021. When it comes to block 11, the company did make a material gas discovery, which is being appraised this year, but it is too early to talk about the production potential, Hadi said. "We also see quite a bit of potential in block 11 already." "Exploration is a very uncertain business," he added. "You have to go after a lot of things and only few will end up working. We are at a very aggressive exploration campaign at the moment. We also expect by the end of 2025, we would be in a much better position to determine the next wave of growth and where it's going to come from." By Rithika Krishna Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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China’s natural gas consumption to peak in 2040: CNOOC


23/05/24
News
23/05/24

China’s natural gas consumption to peak in 2040: CNOOC

Singapore, 23 May (Argus) — China's state-controlled CNOOC expects domestic natural gas consumption to peak at 700bn m³ in 2040, said CNOOC's senior economist Xie Xuguang at a liquefied fuel shipping conference in Chongqing over 22-24 May. The conference was jointly organised by the China Shipowners' Association and Langfang International Pipeline Exhibition. CNOOC also estimated China's gas consumption to hit 410bn m³ in 2024. These most recent projections are aligned with earlier estimates from fellow state-controlled CNPC 's economic and technology research institute in Beijing, which forecast Chinese gas demand will rise by 24bn m³ in 2024 in its annual report published on 28 February. International Gas Union's president Li Yalan expects natural gas consumption in China to hit 500bn m³ in 2030 and eventually 650bn m³ in 2040. And all above growth scenarios could in fact be further enhanced should gas prices remain at "reasonable" levels, she added. She did not expand on the definition of "reasonable", but recent buying interest from mostly second-tier buyers in China hinted that the ideal target price considered acceptable for buyers in the country could be no higher than $9-9.50/mn Btu. Current spot prices are still considered way out of reach for Chinese importers. The front half-month of the ANEA — the Argus assessment for spot LNG deliveries to northeast Asia — was last assessed at $11.525/mn Btu on 23 May, $1/mn Btu higher from a week earlier. Factors such as higher-than-average temperatures in northeast Asia, southeast Asia, south Europe and the US, and some remaining concerns over production outages in the Atlantic and Pacific basins have resulted in European gas hub prices strengthening and Asian spot prices also jumping higher as a result. This is despite higher-than-average inventories in traditional major importing countries such as Japan and South Korea, and expectations of higher nuclear availability in Japan and South Korea to weigh on gas-fired generation in the summer . But traders have also pointed out that such higher prices may compel buyers in Asia to withdraw from the spot market, freezing out additional demand and eventually weighing on prices again. China has continued to step up its LNG imports even as domestic gas production extended gains in April . The country imported more LNG in April as compared to in 2023, and imports even hit a record high in March . Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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UK general election set for 4 July


22/05/24
News
22/05/24

UK general election set for 4 July

London, 22 May (Argus) — A general election will take place in the UK on 4 July, prime minister Rishi Sunak said today. The announcement coincides with official data showing that UK inflation has fallen to its lowest level in nearly three years. Labour, the country's main opposition party led by Keir Starmer, has held a substantial lead in polls in recent months and performed well in local elections earlier this month. It won nearly 200 seats on local councils, as well as several regional mayoral contests, while the ruling Conservative Party lost almost 500 council seats. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010 and have fielded five prime ministers during that time. The two main parties are likely to release more detailed manifestos once the election campaign begins, but their current respective energy policies have many similarities. Both back a windfall tax on oil and gas producers and support nuclear power. They both also support offshore wind and solar power, although Labour has incrementally more ambitious targets for those renewables and has plans for more onshore wind. Labour also wants a zero-carbon power grid by 2030 , while the Conservatives are aiming for that in 2035. The Conservatives have rolled back some climate policy since Sunak became prime minister, while Labour in February backed down on its pledge to spend £28bn/yr ($35.6bn/yr) on the country's energy transition, if it wins the election. For a general election to take place in the UK, the prime minister must request permission from the British monarch — King Charles III — who then dissolves parliament. A general election must take place at least once every five years in the UK, although a prime minister can call one at any point. The UK's last general election was held on 12 December 2019 and Boris Johnson was elected prime minister. There have since then been two prime ministers — Liz Truss in September-October 2022 — and Sunak. Truss was selected by Conservative Party members and Sunak became prime minister in October 2022 after the only other candidate withdrew from the leadership contest. The Conservatives hold 344 seats out of 650 in the House of Commons, the UK's lower house of parliament. But 105 members of parliament have said that they will not run at the next election, 66 of whom are Conservatives. By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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