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Viewpoint: US readies 2023 regulatory push on climate

  • Market: Coal, Crude oil, Emissions, Natural gas, Oil products
  • 03/01/23

President Joe Biden is set to pivot to a regulatory focus this year to support his climate ambitions, after a two-year push to get much of his agenda through the US Congress while Democrats held a majority.

The upcoming regulations include a plan to finalize first-time methane emission limits for oil and gas facilities and to propose new climate regulations for power plants. The administration also wants to limit flaring by oil and gas operators on federal land and more clearly consider climate change in federal environmental reviews.

The flurry of action on climate-related regulations comes after two years during which the administration's pace of work was slower than climate activists were anticipating. Some of the upcoming rules had risked upsetting Democrats whose votes were to include climate spending in last year's Inflation Reduction Act and 2021's bipartisan infrastructure law.

But with Republicans set to take control of the US House of Representatives starting today and slim chances for new climate legislation, the Biden administration should have considerably more wiggle room to finish up regulations focused on climate change and energy, particularly with the recent passage of a $1.7 trillion spending bill that will fund federal agencies through 30 September.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be responsible for much of the climate-related regulations. EPA plans to roll out its proposal to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants in March, the same month it wants to unveil a plan to limit greenhouse gas and conventional air pollutants from cars and trucks sold starting in model year 2027.

In May, EPA intends to finalize a rule that will require oil and gas facilities to cut methane emissions. EPA next year also is scheduled to begin to review — and possibly tighten — the stringency of national ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone and particulate matter.

At the US Interior Department, the administration is preparing to finish this year new requirements for oil and gas facilities on federal land to reduce natural gas flaring. The White House is separately preparing to propose new standards for reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, with a goal to incorporate a more exhaustive analysis of climate change in decisions such as whether to open more federal areas to oil and gas leasing.

Climate change is also set to be a focus at independent federal agencies led by Biden appointees. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing to finalize requirements for publicly traded companies to disclose more information on climate-related risks. The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is also trying to scrutinize climate in the permitting of natural gas pipelines, although the agency's pending 2-2 split is likely to delay any changes.

Even regulations without an explicit climate focus are expected to have an effect on climate. EPA is preparing concurrent work on regulations that would require coal-fired power plants to reduce conventional air emissions and water pollution. Aligning the timing of those rules is expected to cause more coal plants to retire because plant owners will have to decide whether to make all required upgrades at the same time.

Biden's climate agenda in 2023 will not focus exclusively on regulations. The administration will also be rolling out some of the $369bn in climate spending in the Inflation Reduction Act, along with funding for hydrogen and carbon capture from the bipartisan infrastructure law. Biden has also said he wants to work with Congress to fast-track permitting of energy infrastructure he says is needed to support climate spending.


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25/07/24

South Africa adopts climate change law

South Africa adopts climate change law

Cape Town, 25 July (Argus) — South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the country's climate change bill, which sets out a national response to climate change for the first time. The new climate change act will enable the orderly reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the implementation of sectoral emission targets towards South Africa's commitment to reach net zero by 2050. Currently, the country is the 15th largest GHG emitter in the world, according to the World Resources Institute. The law provides policy guidelines to ensure South Africa reaches its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris climate agreement by assigning individual enterprises carbon budgets and facilitating public disclosure of their progress. In its updated 2021 NDC, the country has undertaken to cut its GHG emissions to 350mn-420mn t of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), equivalent to 19-32pc below 2010 levels, by 2030. The lower end of this range is in line with the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C global warming threshold. To meet this, South Africa will have to achieve a steep decline in coal-fired electricity generation. A carbon tax is seen as a vital component of the country's mitigation strategy, according to the president. "By internalising the cost of carbon emissions, carbon tax incentivises companies to reduce their carbon footprint and invest in cleaner technologies, and also generates revenue for climate initiatives," Ramaphosa said. South Africa's carbon tax was introduced in a phased approach in June 2019 at a rate of 120 rands/t ($7/t) of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) and increased to R134/t of CO2e by the end of 2022. But tax-free allowances for energy-intensive sectors such as mining, and iron and steel, along with state-owned utility Eskom's exemption, implied an initial effective carbon tax rate as low as R6-48/t of CO2e. South Africa's National Treasury is targeting an increase to $30/t of CO2e by 2030. But the extension of phase one from the end of 2022 to the end of 2025, together with an uncertain future price trajectory and lack of clarity on future exemptions, means the effective carbon tax rate is likely to remain well below the IMF's recommended $50/t of CO2e by 2030 for emerging markets. The new climate change act seeks to align South Africa's climate change policies and strengthen co-ordination between different departments to ensure the country's transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy is not constrained by any policy contradictions. It outlines South Africa's planned mitigation and adaptation actions aimed at cutting GHG emissions over time, while reducing the risk of job losses and promoting new employment opportunities in the emerging green economy. The law also places a legal obligation on provinces and municipalities to ensure climate change risks and associated vulnerabilities are acted upon, while providing mechanisms for national government to offer additional financial support for these efforts. The new act formally establishes the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) as a statutory body tasked with providing advice on the country's climate change response. Among other things, the PCC is developing proposals for a just transition financing mechanism, for which a platform will be launched in the next few months. Over the last three years, South Africa has seen an increase in extreme weather events often with disastrous consequences for poor communities and vulnerable groups. To address the substantial gap between available disaster funds and the cost of disaster response, the government announced in February that it would establish a climate change response fund. At the time of the announcement, Ramaphosa reiterated that South Africa would undertake its just energy transition "at a pace, scale and cost that our country can afford and in a manner that ensures energy security". Elaine Mills Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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US-Australia’s Coronado to lift coal sales


25/07/24
News
25/07/24

US-Australia’s Coronado to lift coal sales

Sydney, 25 July (Argus) — US-Australian coal producer Coronado Coal will boost coal sales during July-December despite logistical challenges, as it maintains its output guidance of 16.4mn-17.2mn t for 2024. The firm sold 7.8mn t of coal during January-June, leaving it a target of 8.6mn t for July-December to meet the bottom of its 2024 guidance . It has maintained this guidance despite warning that shipments from its Australian Curragh mine will be affected by a two-week rail disruption from the end of July . Coronado operates the Curragh mine in Queensland and two mining complexes in the US' Virginia. All produce coking and thermal coal. Coronado's revenues were supported during April-June compared with January-March by a smaller discount for pulverised injection coal (PCI) against hard coking coal prices, which saw the PCI price rise while other metallurgical coal prices were under pressure. Its sales prices will remain strong in July-September, forecasts chief executive Douglas Thompson, on restocking in India and the rail disruption in Queensland, as well as the fire at Anglo American's Grosvenor mine that will disrupt Australian exports. Thompson warned that there was some downside risk of $5-10/t to Australian PCI pricing but if this was realised it will see China restart buying from Australia. In the long term he expects more competition from Russia-origin PCI, as Russian coal producers find new routes to the seaborne market and regain market share lost because of an European embargo. The premium for premium hard coal prices over PCI coal prices has shrunk to around $30/t from $145/t over the past six months. Argus last assessed the premium hard low-volatile price at $224/t fob Australia on 24 July and the PCI low-volatile price at $193.65/t. Coronado's group sales volumes were up 8.3pc to 4.1mn t in April-June compared with January-March , reflecting higher sales from its Australian and US operations. The increase in volumes combined with reduced need to remove waste materials allowed Coronado to cut is mining costs by 27.5pc from the previous quarter to an average of $91.10/t of coal sold. The firm expects costs to fall further in July-December as it demobilises more of its mining fleet at its Curragh mine. This reflects reduced waste removal and should have no impact of coal production at Curragh, Thompson said. Production at Curragh should increase in the second half of 2024, with 100,000t of coal production deferred from June to July because of heavy rainfall. By Jo Clarke Coronado Coal (mn t) Apr-Jun '24 Jan-Mar '24 Apr-Jun '23 Jan-Jun '24 Jan-Jun '23 Sales (mn t) Australia (Curragh) 2.7 2.5 2.5 5.2 4.7 US 1.4 1.2 1.5 2.6 3.0 Total 4.1 3.7 4.0 7.8 7.6 Sales data % coking coal of total sales 81.0 78.7 76.0 79.9 75.3 Australian realised met coal price (fob) ($/t) 216.2 225.2 237.7 220.5 239.7 US realised met coal price (for) ($/t) 161.7 170.9 196.0 166.0 215.5 Source: Coronado Australian coal price comparisons ($/t) Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Refining, LNG segments take Total’s profit lower in 2Q


25/07/24
News
25/07/24

Refining, LNG segments take Total’s profit lower in 2Q

London, 25 July (Argus) — TotalEnergies said today that a worsening performance at its downstream Refining & Chemicals business and its Integrated LNG segment led to a 7pc year-on-year decline in profit in the second quarter. Profit of $3.79bn was down from $5.72bn for the January-March quarter and from $4.09bn in the second quarter of 2023. When adjusted for inventory effects and special items, profit was $4.67bn — slightly lower than analysts had been expecting and 6pc down on the immediately preceding quarter. The biggest hit to profits was at the Refining & Chemicals segment, which reported an adjusted operating profit of $639mn for the April-June period, a 36pc fall on the year. Earlier in July, TotalEnergies had flagged lower refining margins in Europe and the Middle East, with its European Refining Margin Marker down by 37pc to $44.9/t compared with the first quarter. This margin decline was partially compensated for by an increase in its refineries' utilisation rate: to 84pc in April-June from 79pc in the first quarter. The company's Integrated LNG business saw a 13pc year on year decline in its adjusted operating profit, to $1.15bn. TotalEnergies cited lower LNG prices and sales, and said its gas trading operation "did not fully benefit in markets characterised by lower volatility than during the first half of 2023." A bright spot was the Exploration & Production business, where adjusted operating profit rose by 14pc on the year to $2.67bn. This was mainly driven by higher oil prices, which were partially offset by lower gas realisations and production. The company's second-quarter production averaged 2.44mn b/d of oil equivalent (boe/d), down by 1pc from 2.46mn boe/d reported for the January-March period and from the 2.47mn boe/d average in the second quarter of 2023. TotalEnergies attributed the quarter-on-quarter decline to a greater level of planned maintenance, particularly in the North Sea. But it said its underlying production — excluding the Canadian oil sands assets it sold last year — was up by 3pc on the year. This was largely thanks to the start up and ramp up of projects including Mero 2 offshore Brazil, Block 10 in Oman, Tommeliten Alpha and Eldfisk North in Norway, Akpo West in Nigeria and Absheron in Azerbaijan. TotalEnergies said production also benefited from its entry into the producing fields Ratawi, in Iraq, and Dorado in the US. The company expects production in a 2.4mn-2.45mn boe/d range in the third quarter, when its Anchor project in the US Gulf of Mexico is expected to start up. The company increased profit at its Integrated Power segment, which contains its renewables and gas-fired power operations. Adjusted operating profit rose by 12pc year-on-year to $502mn and net power production rose by 10pc to 9.1TWh. TotalEnergies' cash flow from operations, excluding working capital, was $7.78bn in April-June — an 8pc fall from a year earlier. The company has maintained its second interim dividend for 2024 at €0.79/share and plans to buy back up to $2bn of its shares in the third quarter, in line with its repurchases in previous quarters. By Jon Mainwaring Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Australian coal rail line to shut for 2 weeks: Coronado


25/07/24
News
25/07/24

Australian coal rail line to shut for 2 weeks: Coronado

Sydney, 25 July (Argus) — The Blackwater rail line in Queensland, Australia will be closed for up to two weeks because of maintenance, which will restrict coal deliveries to the key port of Gladstone. The maintenance program will run from late July to early August, coal mining firm Coronado said on 25 July. This is limiting metallurgical supply from Queensland and pushing up the price of pulverised coal injection (PCI) coal relative to Australian premium low-volatile coal, it added. The two-week shutdown was planned before Coronado released its 16.4mn-17.2mn t saleable coal guidance for 2024 , which it still expects to reach despite a week-long outage on the Blackwater line in June-July following a collision . Shippers appear prepared for the reduction in shipping from the 102mn t/yr Gladstone port over the next couple of weeks, with just 12 ships queued outside the port on 25 July, down from 23 on 6 June and below-average queues of around 20. Coal is delivered to Gladstone through the 100mn t/yr capacity Blackwater rail line and the 30mn t/yr capacity Moura line, both of which are operated by Australian rail firm Aurizon. Gladstone's shipments fell by 9.5pc in June compared with a year earlier, partly because of rail constraints. Around two-thirds of Gladstone's coal shipments are metallurgical coal and a third are thermal. A fire at UK-South African mining firm Anglo American's Grosvenor mine already hit Australian metallurgical coal exports, which led the firm to cut its 2024 production guidance to 14mn-15.5mn t from 15mn-17mn t. The premium for premium hard coal prices over PCI coal prices has shrunk to around $30/t from $145/t over the past six months. Argus last assessed the premium hard low-vol price at $224/t fob Australia on 24 July, with the PCI low-vol price at $193.65/t. Aurizon and Gladstone Port were contacted for comment, but have yet to respond at the time of writing. By Jo Clarke Australian coal price comparisons ($/t) Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Mercado mexicano de turbosina evalúa cambios de Pemex


24/07/24
News
24/07/24

Mercado mexicano de turbosina evalúa cambios de Pemex

Mexico City, 24 July (Argus) — La cadena de valor del mercado de turbosina en México podría sufrir cambios drásticos, luego de que la empresa estatal mexicana Pemex eliminara su programa de descuentos por volumen para las ventas de turbosina. Los precios de turbosina a partir del 1 de julio se determinan bajo el esquema de "precio único" anunciado por Pemex mediante un aviso oficial el 28 de junio, según una nota de Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares (ASA), el mayor cliente de turbosina de Pemex y el principal proveedor de combustible de aviación en México. Pemex afirmó en su aviso del 28 de junio que el cambio tiene como objetivo mejorar su oferta para el consumidor final y proporcionar "un precio competitivo" para todos sus clientes. La empresa no ha respondido a una solicitud de comentarios de Argus desde el 12 de julio. El programa de descuentos por volumen, activo hasta junio, permitía a los grandes participantes del mercado reducir los costes de la turbosina a través de grandes volúmenes de compra. Este cambio, junto con un peso mexicano más fuerte frente al dólar estadounidense, probablemente provocó una disminución considerable de los precios de turbosina en los principales aeropuertos de México, a pesar de la subida de los precios internacionales. El precio promedio de la turbosina en los cinco principales aeropuertos de México cayó en 5pc a Ps13.23/l ($2.75/USG) durante la semana del 2 al 8 de julio, desde Ps13.87/l la semana anterior, según cálculos de Argus basados en las tarifas de ASA. Sin embargo, el 1 de julio, los precios de la turbosina entregada en la costa este de México desde la costa del Golfo de EE. UU. habían aumentado en 6pc. Los precios cayeron aún más en esos aeropuertos durante la semana del 16 al 21 de julio, alcanzando su punto más bajo en cinco semanas, con un promedio de Ps12.96/l. Los precios al mayoreo de Pemex no incluyen costes logísticos ni impuestos. Los principales aeropuertos de México por número de pasajeros son Ciudad de México, Cancún, Guadalajara, Monterrey y Tijuana. Los principales distribuidores de turbosina en los aeropuertos, incluyendo a ASA y algunas empresas del sector privado, ya no mantendrán su ventaja competitiva como grandes compradores bajo el nuevo régimen de precio único, lo que podría abrir de forma abrupta el mercado mexicano de turbosina a una mayor competencia. El nuevo régimen de precios podría favorecer a la empresa militar Gafsacomm, que comenzó a vender combustible para aviones en algunos aeropuertos menores este año. Los volúmenes de ventas de Gafsacomm no cumplían los requisitos para recibir descuentos, lo que colocó a la compañía en desventaja frente a los competidores más grandes. Gafsacomm se creó en abril de 2022 y está a cargo de la secretaría de defensa (Sedena). La empresa también opera una docena de aeropuertos y la aerolínea comercial Mexicana de Aviación, que comenzó operaciones a finales de diciembre. La creciente implicación de Sedena y la marina en el sector de aviación bajo el presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador ha puesto en desventaja a otras empresas, incluidas las aerolíneas comerciales, según Cofece, el vigilante de la competencia de México. Gafsacomm comenzó a vender turbosina en el nuevo aeropuerto de Tulum este año y en el aeropuerto internacional Felipe Ángeles (AIFA) en mayo. Por el contrario, el refinador estadounidense Valero, la única empresa del sector privado que tiene un permiso válido de importación de turbosina en México, podría ampliar su negocio, ya que el nuevo esquema de precios de Pemex podría abrirle oportunidades en algunos aeropuertos. Mientras tanto, la eliminación del régimen de descuentos podría obstaculizar a las tres principales aerolíneas comerciales de México, que ya no recibirán descuentos por volumen y perderán competitividad frente a las aerolíneas regionales más pequeñas, además de las aerolíneas extranjeras. Pero el impacto en las aerolíneas podría no ser significativo, ya que algunas tienen contratos de suministro directo con Pemex, según fuentes del mercado. El gobierno tiene un monopolio sobre el mercado de turbosina de México, con Pemex suministrando gran parte del mercado. La turbosina fue el último de los productos petrolíferos en abrirse a una mayor competencia en México después de los cambios constitucionales en 2014, pero el progreso de la reforma se detuvo bajo la administración de López Obrador, que ha impulsado una política de soberanía energética. Por Antonio Gozain Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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