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Brazil biomethane parity prices R2.43-2.79: Correction

  • Market: Natural gas
  • 21/05/24

Corrects CNG truck round-trip freight rates in 8th paragraph.

Biomethane parity prices in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states, Brazil's two largest hubs, ranged between R2.43-2.79/m³ (49-56¢/m³) on 23 February, according to the market's first price indicators launched by Argus.

That represents the marginal price that can be charged by biomethane producers from gas distributors, reflecting daily Cbio carbon credits assessments and weighted averages of natural gas prices in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. It is the first specifically calculated Brazilian biomethane price indicator in a market that has often lacked transparency.

Biomethane producers traditionally have determined their prices on a case-by-case basis, depending on a series of factors such as the consumer's need for the green attribute, which fuel the biomethane gas will substitute and logistics costs.

Initially, the biomethane sector looked to LPG prices for reference, as industry machinery only needs small alterations to substitute one fuel for the other. But the LPG market is much more consolidated and stable in its supply than biomethane.

The international crude industry and Brazilian real-dollar exchange rates also influence the market, leading to distortions that do not reflect the renewable natural gas (RNG) market's true conditions. Market participants are still learning the ropes of the biomethane sector, as all of its production and supply structures are new in Brazil, according to Hugo Nery, chief executive of landfill company Marquise Ambiental, part of the joint venture that controls the 110,000 m³/d GNR Fortaleza biomethane plant.

All biomethane plants certified by hydrocarbons regulator ANP within Brazil's national biofuels Renovabio policy are eligible to issue Cbio carbon credits, which is a compliance market for fossil fuel distributors to compensate their sales' impact. But this segment is still much smaller than it could be for biomethane manufacturers, according to biomethane producer Gas Verde's chief executive Marcel Jorand. Still, Cbios are the most liquid alternative to pricing the green attribute of biomethane in Brazil, with other certification models still in preliminary stages and not openly traded.

Producers are adopting their own solutions to biomethane transportation challenges. Marquise Ambiental's strategy is to build its new biomethane plants near distribution networks, Nery said. GNR Fortaleza was the first plant in Brazil to inject biomethane directly into a distribution network and supplies 20pc of Ceara state's gas demand.

On the other hand, biomethane generators Gas Verde and Zeg Biogas supply their customers through CNG truck deliveries. Argus' CNG truck freight rates, based on Sao Paulo costs, show that each cubic meter of gas delivered on a 150km (93.2-mile) round trip cost R0.005/km on 23 February. Gas Verde and Zeg Biogas eye opportunities for longer-distance deliveries, using LNG trucks that have more range compared with CNG truck freights, or injecting gas into pipelines.

Biomethane producers are finding demand for RNG outstripping supply available to the market. Zeg Biogas expects to start up a 30,000 m³/d biomethane plant in Minas Gerais state on the second half of the year. The company aims to explore the off-grid market in the region and expects to sign four additional contracts this year and increase its production capacity, according to chief executive Eduardo Acquaviva.

Gas Verde, which owns Brazil's largest biomethane plant in Seropedica, Rio de Janeiro state, with 204,000 m³/d of capacity, also expects to expand. The company will transform nine biogas-fired thermal power plants into biomethane generators in the next 18-24 months.


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