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Viewpoint: US readies 2023 regulatory push on climate

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

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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24/07/22

Iraq begins importing Turkish power to cut crude burn

Iraq begins importing Turkish power to cut crude burn

Dubai, 22 July (Argus) — Iraq's prime minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Sunday inaugurated a power transmission line connecting the country's northern region with Turkey, one of several steps Baghdad is taking to tackle its gruelling electricty outages and to reduce its dependence on burning crude in its power plants. The 115km line connects to a power station west of Mosul and will supply 300MW to the northern provinces of Nineveh, Salahuddin and Kirkuk during peak loads. Delayed for two decades, the project is part of Iraq's strategy to connect to neighbouring grids and "integrate into the regional energy system, allowing for diversity and exchange under various peak load conditions", al-Sudani said. Iraq sits on massive oil reserves and is Opec's second-largest producer but it remains heavily reliant on electricity and gas imports from neighbouring countries. The US-led military invasion in 2003, the emergence of the Islamic State and record levels of corruption have all contributed to the underdevelopment of vital infrastructure in Iraq. Power outages during the summer have been a source of political turmoil often causing massive protests. Data provided by Iraq's oil ministry indicate the country burned an average of 120,000 b/d of crude in its power plants in the first half of this year. Figures from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (Jodi) suggest Iraq's direct crude burn averaged 185,000 b/d in 2023. Earlier this year, Iraq agreed a five-year gas supply agreement with Iran for up to 50mn m³/d. Baghdad also began benefitting from 40MW of electricity supply from Jordan through a newly-established power line that became operational at the beginning of April. And it aims to "complete the connection with the Gulf Co-operation Council electric grid by the end of this year", al-Sudani said. Iraq's oil ministry said the plan is to reduce crude burn at its power stations. Baghdad said the measures will also help it to adhere to its Opec+ crude production commitments . Iraq has exceeded its Opec+ output target every month this year, and as the group's least compliant member it agreed in May to make additional cuts to compensate for prior overproduction. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Vietnam’s 1H 2024 coal imports hit all-time high


24/07/22
24/07/22

Vietnam’s 1H 2024 coal imports hit all-time high

Singapore, 22 July (Argus) — Vietnam's coal imports reached an all-time high in the first half of this year despite an on-year drop in seaborne receipts in June from a relatively high base last year. A growth in seaborne receipts led by strong utility demand took Vietnam's coal imports to 33.43mn t in January-June, up from 24.1mn t in the same period last year, according to customs data. Vietnamese customs data do not differentiate between coking and thermal coal. The imports in the first half of this year hit the highest level since Vietnam imported 30.61mn t in January-June 2020, according to Argus' analysis of the customs data. Imports were at 6.36mn t in June, down from a revised 7.21mn t a year earlier and 6.5mn t in May . This was the first year-on-year drop in imports since January last year. Vietnam's strong imports in the first half of the year comes amid heatwaves in the region, which has boosted power consumption and coal-burn at utilities. Vietnam is leading the growth in imports in the southeast Asian region, a trend that is helping to partly offset a lukewarm demand trend in China — the biggest coal importer in the world. Vietnam could end up importing over 66mn t of coal this year at the current average rate of 5.57mn t/month, according to Argus calculations. This could be the country's highest annual imports since the 55mn t of coal it received in 2020, and up from 51.16mn t in 2023. The on-year dip in imports in June came from a high base a year earlier when strong demand from utilities took the monthly imports to a record high. The dip also came as the coal-fired generation dropped to 12.37TWh in June from 17.08TWh in May this year, while the hydro-power generation more than doubled to 9.55TWh last month on a month-on-month basis, according to Argus calculations based on the data from state-owned utility EVN. The country's coal-fired generation, which accounted for 57pc of overall generation in January-June, could come under pressure on a steady uptick in hydropower output, owing to heavy rains in some parts of the country. Overall generation rose by about 12pc on the year to 151.7TWH in the first half of the year, while coal-fired generation reached 86.34TWh, up from 66.76TWh a year earlier, EVN data show. Hydropower generation was at 28.63TWh during the period, down from 29.83TWh a year earlier, according to the EVN data. Vietnam's northern regions may face heavy rains until 24 July as typhoon Prapiroon heads towards Vietnam after making a landfall in south China's Hainan, according to the country's National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting. Coal-fired generation rose to cater for higher electricity consumption resulting from continued economic recovery and an uptick in air-conditioning demand. Power demand continues to grow, and the peak capacity of the national power system reached 49.53GW on 19 June, up from 45.53GW a year earlier, it said. Peak capacity might increase further to over 52GW this month, it added. Authorities have directed EVN and state-owned coal producers to ensure stable supplies to meet the increased power consumption. The uptick in power consumption and coal demand during the first six months and during the second quarter of the year was also supported by an increase in economic activity. Vietnam's GDP grew by 6.93pc in April-June from a year earlier. The increase in receipts of seaborne coal also followed softness in international coal prices, especially for coal from Vietnam's preferred origins — Indonesia and Australia. Argus assessed Indonesian GAR 4,200 kcal/kg coal at $52.38/t fob Kalimantan on 19 July, with the price of the grade recovering from a 10-month low of $52.07/t on 12 July. Argus assessed the Australian NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal market at $87.61/t fob Newcastle on 19 July, down from $96.59/t fob Newcastle on 1 March — the highest value for the grade in the year to date. Power saving EVN has advised local authorities, businesses, commercial and residential consumers to ensure economical and efficient use of electricity. It has asked commercial units and households to reduce consumption, and advised them to not set air-conditioner temperatures below 26-27°C. Vietnamese authorities have asked power consumers to pay special attention to electricity usage during peak hours between 11:00am to 3:00pm local time (04:00-08:00 GMT) and 7:00pm to 11:00pm. By Saurabh Chaturvedi Vietnam's coal imports (mn t) Vietnam's Jan-June generation mix (TWh) Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

South32 misses Australian coking coal output target


24/07/22
24/07/22

South32 misses Australian coking coal output target

Sydney, 22 July (Argus) — Australian-South African diversified resources company South32 was 2pc off its coking coal production target of 4.4mn t at its Australian Illawarra coal operations in the 2023-24 fiscal year to 30 June. The firm is on track to complete the sale of its Illawarra operations in New South Wales (NSW) state by the end of September, marking its exit from coal as it focuses on its non-ferrous metal portfolio. It completed three and started a fourth longwall move at the Appin and Dendrobium mines, leaving new owner Golden Energy and Resources and M Resources with a lower maintenance burden into 2025. South32's total coal production was down by 24pc in 2023-24 compared with the previous year, largely because of maintenance. The firm increased production in the fourth quarter and final half of 2023-24 after a weak first half but the quarter was still down by 15pc on April-June 2023. South32 expects its costs for 2023-24 to be around $150/t, which is in line with its guidance, which was raised from $140/t in February. It received an average price for its Illawarra coal of $275/t for its metallurgical coal and $113/t for its thermal coal for January-June compared with $276/t and $101/t respectively in July-December 2023. The firm's operating margins at its Illawarra metallurgical coal operations were $17/t on thermal coal and $152/t on metallurgical coal in 2022-23 when its operating costs were $127/t. It will release its 2023-24 results on 29 August. Argus last assessed the premium hard coking coal price at $229/t fob Australia on 19 July, down from $334.50/t on 19 January and close to the $235.50/t on 19 July 2023. It assessed the high-grade 6,000 kcal/kg NAR thermal coal price at $134.87/t fob Newcastle on 19 July, up from $128.09/t on 19 January and down from $129.18/t on 19 January 2023. South32 last year dropped plans for a $700mn expansion at Dendrobium, following a dispute with NSW's water agency over its potential impact on water quality . Dendrobium, which supplies coking coal to the Whyalla steelworks in South Australia and exports from NSW's Port Kembla coal terminal, is expected to close in 2028. By Jo Clarke South32 Illawarra Coal output (mn t) Apr-Jun '24 Jan-Mar '24 Apr-Jun '23 2023-24 2022-23 2023-24 guidance Met coal production 1.27 1.24 1.50 4.31 5.50 4.40 Met coal sales 1.36 1.05 1.53 4.17 5.40 Thermal coal production 0.21 0.16 0.25 0.63 1.02 0.60 Thermal coal sales 0.18 0.19 0.17 0.70 0.96 Total production 1.49 1.41 1.75 4.94 6.52 5.50 Source: South32 Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Australia’s Woodside to buy US LNG developer Tellurian


24/07/22
24/07/22

Australia’s Woodside to buy US LNG developer Tellurian

Sydney, 22 July (Argus) — Australian independent Woodside Energy is buying US LNG developer Tellurian, which is behind the planned 11mn t/yr Driftwood phase 1 project on the US Gulf coast. Woodside said the all-cash payment will position the firm as a global LNG powerhouse, with the purchase providing an "attractive entry" with more than $1bn spent on the Louisiana project to date. The deal values Tellurian at $1 a share with an implied value of $1.2bn. Driftwood's development plan envisions construction of five LNG production trains in four phases, totalling capacity of 27.6mn t/yr. Woodside is targeting completion of the Tellurian acquisition during October-December ahead of a final investment decision (FID) on Driftwood in January-March 2025, with its first LNG from 2029. The transaction adds scalable US LNG to Woodside's existing 10mn t/yr equity production in Australia, chief executive Meg O'Neill said on 22 July, with Driftwood complementing its existing output and enabling the company to better service customers while opening further marketing opportunities, including in the Atlantic basin. Tellurian planned to make a FID on Driftwood this year after beginning the plant's regulatory approval process in 2016. But the terminal does not yet have any publicly announced term customers. Contracts worth 9mn t/yr to supply Shell and trading firms Gunvor and Vitol were cancelled last year, as Tellurian did not reach a FID by the deadlines set out in the supply contracts. Woodside expects development costs of around $900-960/t for phase 1 and 2, which total 16.5mn t/yr capacity, implying a project worth about $10.6bn excluding pipelines. Phase 1 construction is under way with pilings for trains 1 and 2 complete, foundation work in progress and pilings under way for its LNG tanks, the firm said. Woodside earlier this year called off a proposed $53bn merger with fellow Australian independent Santos, with it focusing on completing its $12bn Scarborough project offshore Western Australia by 2026. By Tom Major Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Biden abandons bid for re-election: Update


24/07/21
24/07/21

Biden abandons bid for re-election: Update

Updates with reaction Washington, 21 July (Argus) — President Joe Biden has dropped his bid for a second term and is endorsing vice president Kamala Harris to serve as his party's presidential nominee, bowing to pressure from top Democrats who no longer saw a viable path for him to defeat former president Donald Trump in the November election. Biden committed to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends on 20 January 2025. Biden's abrupt withdrawal from the presidential race will leave it up to Democratic delegates to decide who will become their nominee by no later than the Democratic National Convention on 19-22 August. "While it has been my intention to seek re-election, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as president for the remainder of my term," Biden wrote in a letter posted on the social media site X. In calling for Democrats to rally around Harris as the nominee, Biden said he was giving his "full support and endorsement" of Harris and urged Democrats to "come together and beat Trump". Other top voices in the Democratic Party have called for a "mini-primary" to allow a new candidate to emerge, but doing so could run the risk of a protracted and politically risky intraparty fight. Trump, who has spent years attacking Biden's mental competency and age, said in a post today on Truth Social that Biden is not "fit to run for President" and had never been capable to lead the country. Other Republican leaders urged Biden to resign from the White House, which would lead to Harris being sworn in as president. "If Joe Biden is not fit to run for president, he is not fit to serve as president," US House of Representatives speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) said in a post on X. "He must resign the office immediately." House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) called Biden "one of the most accomplished and consequential leaders in American history". Jeffries did not explicitly endorse Harris. The Democratic revolt against Biden staying in the race followed the first presidential debate last month, when Biden often appeared feeble and confused and struggled to clearly articulate his policy positions. Biden called the debate "a stupid mistake" and blamed it on his busy travel and work schedule. But efforts by Biden and his campaign to reach out to Democratic lawmakers and donors have failed to assuage their concerns. Trump has also made polling gains in must-win battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and even threatened to be competitive in typically Democratic strongholds such as New Jersey. Biden is the first sitting US president since Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to prematurely end his re-election campaign. Biden said he would speak "in more detail" later this week about his decision. The Trump campaign had already started preparing for the possibility that Biden would drop out of the race after the presidential debate last month. Last week, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign declined to set a date for the vice presidential debate, saying it would be "unfair" to "whoever Kamala Harris picks as her running mate", in a taunting reference to the uncertainty of Biden's candidacy. By Chris Knight and Haik Gugarats Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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