LPG World editorial: Clean cooking’s watershed moment?

  • : LPG
  • 24/05/16

African clean cooking schemes could prove to be an early energy transition success story now that world leaders view them as environmental imperatives

The $2.2bn in funding pledged for clean cooking programmes in Africa over the next five years, announced at the IEA's Clean Cooking Summit in Paris on 14 May, could be a "turning point", according to the agency's executive director Fatih Birol. Not only would this be true in terms of tackling what is a long-neglected problem. It is also true for the LPG industry, which has been extolling the benefits of a transition to LPG in sub-Saharan Africa for many years.

Other than the dozen or so individual financial commitments made by governments and organisations, what resonated most from the event was just how achievable transitioning sub-Saharan Africa to cleaner fuels such as LPG actually is. Often the immediate reaction is to balk at the challenges — the lack of infrastructure, the lack of regulatory frameworks, the corruption, the cost of the LPG and equipment. Yet this was when it was looked at purely through the prism of the market. Now it is an environmental and social imperative.

Many of the political leaders from Europe, Africa and the US that spoke noted that greenhouse emissions from cooking were comparable to the airline and shipping sectors, yet tackling the former is far less complex, less expensive and receives scant recognition in comparison with the latter two. "We can fix it now… it is not high-tech, it is low-tech," Norway's prime minister Jonas Gahr Store told delegates.

Another often ignored part of the issue is how disproportionately women are affected by cooking with harmful solid biomass fuels — perhaps an underlying factor behind the many years of neglect at a national and international level. This is a gender issue, both Birol and Tanzania's first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, noted. The obvious health and social benefits from the transition to clean cooking will be most keenly felt by women and their children, who are at home breathing in the smoke from open fires. Several of the speakers, including African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina and World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus, even spoke of their own experience of growing up in a household with open fires, and the consequent unnecessary suffering their mothers in particular had to endure.

LPG is not the only solution here — others mentioned included electric cookers, biogas, bioethanol and cleaner cooking stoves. And as a fossil fuel, it will ultimately be replaced at some stage by renewable alternatives. But it is the best solution right now for large parts of the region. "LPG is the most efficient in terms of its benefits and its ease of use," Togo's president Faure Gnassingbe said. LPG markets can develop in the region through subsidies and LPG price regulation to moderate volatility, while countries must also invest in domestic LPG production as well as import and distribution infrastructure, he said. Each country will be different, but it is "well within our reach", Gnassingbe added.

From pledge to realisation

The sub-Saharan African region and the LPG industry must now work with foreign governments, financial institutions and private-sector companies to ensure that the large sums pledged are invested in a pragmatic and fruitful way. The IEA will come back in a year's time to report on the progress of the various commitments made at the summit and will provide updates online in an effort to ensure progress and transparency, Birol said.

There is reason for cautious hope. The feasibility of achieving the transition and the relatively low levels of foreign investment involved — and the huge opportunities for LPG companies that will emerge — could create the conditions for success of a kind that has so far eluded many other such ambitions. It would be a huge boon for the world to have one such success story to point to by 2030 in its long, hard struggle to transition to a cleaner energy future.


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24/06/18

Q&A: LGE calls for more EU backing as Congress begins

Q&A: LGE calls for more EU backing as Congress begins

Brussels, 18 June (Argus) — The European Parliament election on 6-9 June is expected to result in centre-right Ursula von der Leyen remaining as president of the European Commission despite an increase in support for far-right groups. The election came just before European LPG association Liquid Gas Europe's (LGE) 2024 Congress in Lyon, France, over 18-20 June. Argus' EU correspondent Dafydd ab Iago spoke with the LGE's general manager, Ewa Abramiuk-Lete, about the election and the EU's climate and energy policies on the eve of the conference: What do you want from the newly constituted parliament and commission? A positive overarching framework from Brussels is needed to drive demand for renewable gases such as bioLPG and renewable and recycled carbon DME in heating and transport. For instance, retrofitting diesel or gasoline engines after 2035 is a potential solution for legacy fleets. But this goal is currently missing at the EU level. Energy taxation is another critical issue, with the current directive unchanged for more than 20 years. It's crucial that revenue from energy taxation is re-invested into the production of renewable fuels to avoid a vicious cycle. Do you expect parliament to push for a clearer future for renewable liquid gas fuels despite plans to phase out ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles? There's obviously a trend towards electrification. And as set out in the current legislation, the European Commission will come forward with definitions of CO2-neutral fuels. But member states have woken up to the gravity of the ban on ICE vehicles. Legislative solutions need to come really fast. We don't want to wait two more years until the effect of the new CO2 standards for cars fully kicks in. Can a new parliament tweak existing legislation on the EU's 2030 climate and energy goals? The ICE phase-out has intensified scrutiny of the Green Deal, at the member state level and in the European Parliament. But significant changes to the 2030 goals are unlikely as the targets are set for 2030. And Europe remains committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Considerations to be examined include the role of liquid gases, especially in rural areas that account for about 3pc of EU energy demand. They rely on LPG as an off-grid solution. Does the EU need to rethink the 2040 goals? The suggested 2040 strategy set out by the outgoing commission still has to translate into legal proposals for parliament and member states to decide upon. The major question is where the industry will get to in 2040. Achieving 90pc net greenhouse gas savings by 2040, and then climate neutrality by 2050, will require significant investment. We expect an increase in the production of renewable gases by 2030, and a further scale-up towards 2040. But the industry also needs investor security. Some countries such as Italy, the Czech Republic and Spain have mentioned renewable LPG in their national energy and climate plans. That provides some degree of investor security. Will LPG still be part of the EU's heating and transport picture as we move towards 2030 and 2035? Yes, particularly for industrial use as Russian gas is being phased out. Major industries such as steel and ceramics need high heat that was previously supplied by natural gas, which cannot be replaced everywhere with electricity. There is significant interest from energy-intensive industries. For heating and boilers, the commission is developing guidance documents defining fossil boilers, which must outline a future pathway for boilers, especially important for off-grid areas. Those guidance documents need to recognise that boilers can run on both fossil fuels and renewable blends. Is an extension of the ETS [emissions trading system] to transport and heating proceeding smoothly for the LPG sector? The expansion of the ETS is new for many in the sector, requiring firms to establish trading for ETS allowances. While some companies were already under the ETS, the EU-wide extension now includes medium and small-sized firms, which face crucial upcoming deadlines. Companies must estimate their emissions and purchase allowances, adding costs for consumers. And implementation has been challenging for some member states, particularly in identifying relevant companies falling under the ETS, making the process more difficult than anticipated. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Q&A: DCC Energy eyes further LPG and low-carbon growth


24/06/18
24/06/18

Q&A: DCC Energy eyes further LPG and low-carbon growth

London, 18 June (Argus) — Dublin-based DCC Energy continues to expand and diversify, completing 15 acquisitions over the past year that included two in the LPG sector. The company, which owns several LPG retail subsidiaries in Europe, the US and Hong Kong, bought Germany's Progas and the US' San Isabel Services Propane at the same time as it increasingly moves into low-carbon energy markets such as solar, biofuels and energy management services. Argus' Oliver Binks spoke with DCC Energy chief executive Fabian Ziegler about the company's 2023-24 results and its future plans: DCC Energy has been moving into new markets as part of the energy transition. What share of the company does LPG represent? We launched our Cleaner Energy in Your Power strategy last year, aiming to double our profit [and halve carbon emissions] by 2030. We think backwards from the customer, helping them through the energy trilemma, and provide energy solutions consisting of molecules — increasingly green — and often self-generated renewable electrons. We are ahead of schedule. LPG is about half of our profits but only 15pc of our carbon emissions. We believe in LPG's longevity. It is a societally very useful fuel. Like the World LPG Association renaming itself to World Liquid Gas Association, we now move our own definitions from LPG to LG — liquid gas. DCC Energy has said it plans to grow its LPG offering by 50pc by 2030. Which areas geographically and sectorally is the company targeting? Our LG journey took us from Ireland to [the UK], to Europe and to the US. We have just strengthened our position in Germany with the acquisition of Progas. A key growth region is the US. We made a small acquisition there last year. We are currently focused on making our business operationally excellent, namely around serving our customers. For now, the strategy places more emphasis on strengthening in each market rather than expansion into new territory. We like our residential businesses, but we are targeting more growth in the commercial sector, where the case for multi-energy packages is greater. Overall, we aim to grow our LG business, but we need to create more sustainable credibility for LG. We are scaling up biopropane sales across Europe and trialling rDME [renewable DME] in the UK and Sweden, particularly with commercial and industrial customers, to enhance LG's relevance as a long-term low-carbon solution for Europe. DCC Energy's profit rose strongly in the 2023-24 fiscal year ending in March, but overall sales volumes dropped slightly. How much did the LPG segment fare? LG is often a mature market in Europe, however our LG sales volumes increased modestly in the year and we believe they can keep growing. We continue to drive the move from oil to gas for commercial and industrial customers. Many customers really appreciate the ability to make affordable CO2 reductions and having their own energy in a tank reliably supplied by DCC companies. LPG sales in the UK and Ireland came under pressure from a warm winter but still grew on expanding commercial and industrial deliveries. What drove this? Our businesses in Ireland and the UK continue to grow owing to diverse customer segments that are not all weather dependent. Under our Cleaner Energy in Your Power strategy, we act as an energy transition partner. Customers recognise the fiscal and carbon benefits of LG over heavier forms of fuel, driving growth in the transition. And some customers are investing in new off-grid facilities and choosing LG as their fuel sources. And it helps that we can provide broader energy packages entailing electron solutions. We also aim to increase our supply resilience with storage access at Teesside and our Avonmouth terminal project. DCC Energy also reported strong profit growth in Scandinavia driven by LPG. What are your plans in this region? We saw significant LG sales growth [in Scandinavia] last year when natural gas prices skyrocketed and customers wanted security of supply. Our Scandinavian business aims to lead the energy transition, with a focus on understanding our customers' needs and helping them reduce their carbon emissions. We aim to support large-scale production of rDME in Sweden and Norway and to see 50pc of sales coming from a wide range of renewable products by 2030. We have successfully run pilot tests in Sweden with rDME-LG blends at customers' sites, we invested in a rDME-LG blending facility, aiming for first customer deliveries in 2024, and received government funding for replacing LG with 100pc rDME at Bjorneborg Steel. DCC has acquired Germany's Progas and the US' San Isabel Services Propane over the past year. Do you have plans for further takeovers in the LPG sector? We have been one of the most active global buyers of LG businesses for several decades and will continue to pursue attractive acquisitions that strengthen our existing businesses, expand our markets and bring other important capabilities. We see a lot of potential in the US, where our DCC Propane business has achieved significant growth through many acquisitions since we entered that market in 2018. We continue to see many interesting opportunities in the US, which is far more fragmented than most European markets, with the top 20 propane retailers accounting for 40pc of the market and over 4,000 independent [firms accounting for 60pc]. Progas owns the Brunsbuttel and Duisburg LPG terminals in Germany. Given Poland faces a looming supply deficit when EU imports from Russia are banned from December, is DCC Energy looking at supplying Poland from these sites? The Brunsbuttel and Duisburg terminals were welcomed into DCC's portfolio in northwest Europe, where their primary role remains unchanged — to provide supply security to our customers. Spare capacity might be used to support the Polish market. We see the capacity of our existing infrastructure in Germany to be sufficient to support our business there. Earlier this year, we created a central supply and trading team out of Amsterdam, called DCC LPG Procurement, which will look at more infrastructure plays. But we are not in the supply business for the sake of it. Our strategy focuses on our customers and providing them with sustainable solutions. Germany is a good example. Our priority in Germany is a seamless integration of Progas and Tega, [acquired in 2018], that is good for customers and our employees. And building out a leading energy management services business. Flogas recently commissioned the Teesside LPG terminal near to Dimeta's upcoming rDME plant. Does Flogas plan to distribute DME or other renewable gases from the site? Being at an energy hub clearly opens possibilities for sourcing low-carbon energy sources such as rDME that can be unlocked for our customers. With the likelihood that rDME will need to be blended with propane to achieve supply without changing infrastructure and equipment, it will be important for rDME sources to be logistically close to sources of propane. Teesside is well placed to offer this solution. At what stage is the Avonmouth terminal project at? The first 17,000t tank is fully refurbished and two truck racks have been put in place such that Avonmouth terminal now already plays an important role in providing supply security to our customers in southwest England. A further 17,000t tank will be refurbished and a connection will be made to the Bristol port to enable midsize LPG carrier imports. We expect first imports in 2026-27. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US Fed signals one rate cut this year


24/06/12
24/06/12

US Fed signals one rate cut this year

Houston, 12 June (Argus) — The US Federal Reserve kept its target interest rate unchanged at a 23-year high today while officials signaled they expect to make only one quarter-point rate cut later this year. The Fed board and policymakers, in their latest economic projections, expect the target rate range will end 2024 near a midpoint of 5.1pc, compared with the 4.6pc midpoint projected in March. That implies one quarter-point cut, down from three possible cuts penciled-in previously. "We do not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until we have gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably" towards the Fed goal of 2pc, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said after the meeting. "As the economy evolves, appropriate assessments of the policy path will adjust in order to best promote our maximum employment and price stability goals." The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held the federal funds target rate unchanged at 5.25-5.5pc. It was the sixth consecutive meeting in which the Fed held rates steady following 11 increases from March 2022 through July last year in the most aggressive hiking campaign in four decades. The decision to keep rates steady was widely expected. CME's FedWatch tool, which tracks fed funds futures trading, had assigned a 99pc probability to the Fed holding rates steady today. The FedWatch tool had earlier signaled two rate cuts later this year, but following a better-than-expected inflation report this morning, FedWatch is now indicating three possible rate cuts, beginning in September. The Fed's economic projections see core Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation, the Fed's favorite measure of inflation, ending 2024 at a median forecast of 2.8pc from a prior forecast for 2.6pc. Policymakers see inflation falling to a median 2.3pc next year. The outlook for the unemployment rate for the end of 2024 remained unchanged at 4pc. Policymakers expect gross domestic product (GDP) growth to end the year at 2.1pc, unchanged from prior projections. The latest policy meeting comes as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) eased to an annual 3.3pc in May , down from 3.4pc in April, the Labor Department reported earlier today. Inflation had ticked up to 3.5pc in March from 3.1pc in January, prompting the Fed to turn more cautious about beginning its rate cuts. US job growth has surprised to the upside and continues to top pre-Covid levels. GDP growth slowed to a 1.3pc annual rate in the first quarter, from 3.4pc in the fourth quarter of 2023. By Bob Willis Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US inflation eases to 3.3pc in May as Fed meets


24/06/12
24/06/12

US inflation eases to 3.3pc in May as Fed meets

Houston, 12 June (Argus) — US consumer inflation eased slightly in May for a second month, a sign Federal Reserve rate hikes are having some success in reining in inflation pressures after a spurt of gains earlier this year. The consumer price index (CPI) slowed to an annual 3.3pc in May from 3.4pc in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. So-called core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, increased by 3.4pc over the past year, the lowest reading in three years, from 3.6pc through April. The energy index rose by an annual 3.7pc, compared to a 2.6pc rise in April, while the gasoline index rose by 2.2pc versus 1.2pc in April. Energy services rose by an annual 4.7pc. Headline inflation had ticked up from 3.1pc in January amid stronger than expected economic data, prompting the Federal Reserve to delay widely expected rate cuts as it pledged it needed to see more evidence of a "sustained" slowing in inflation. The inflation report, which came in slightly under economists' median forecasts, comes hours ahead of a Federal Reserve policy announcement today expected to reveal projections on whether Fed members still expect to begin cutting the target rate this year and by how much. Fed policymakers today are widely expected to keep their target rate unchanged. The Fed hiked its target rate to a 23-year high of 5.25-5.5pc in July 2023 and has kept it there since as it has battled to bring down inflation that hit a high of 9.1pc in June 2022. After the report, the CME's FedWatch tool signaled a 73pc probability that the Fed will cut its target rate in September from near 53pc odds Tuesday. CPI was unchanged from the prior month, the first flat monthly reading in two years, following a 0.3pc monthly gain in April and 0.4pc gains in the prior two months. Core CPI was up by 0.2pc for the month after a monthly gain of 0.3pc in April. The energy index fell 2pc in May on the month after rising 1.1pc the prior month. The food index rose by 0.1pc in May after being unchanged the prior month. By Bob Willis Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Brazil LPG usage review due in Nov


24/06/07
24/06/07

Brazil LPG usage review due in Nov

Sao Paulo, 7 June (Argus) — Brazil's 33-year-old restrictions on LPG usage are one step closer to ending as hydrocarbons regulator ANP plans to deliver a regulatory impact analysis (RIA) on changing the rules by 7 November or sooner. Ending the restrictions via a new regulation — which was discussed in a broadcast meeting of government agencies and industry groups in the lower house of congress this week — could increase Brazil's LPG demand by 5pc , according to LPG association Sindigas. ANP added the RIA to its agenda following pressure from many sides, including Sindigas, LPG distributors, industry and even an official request from ministry of mines and energy (MME). The government banned certain uses of LPG in 1991 when the first Gulf War led to a significant increase in fuel prices. At the time Brazil relied on imported LPG as a primary cooking fuel, which was heavily subsidized, so there was concern the war would lead to prolonged LPG shortages. The restrictions barred its use in automotive and other engines except for forklifts and industrial cleaning equipment. It is also illegal for saunas, boilers and pool heating, except for medicinal purposes. LPG for cooking is no longer subsidized by the government and prices are largely set on the open market, although 13kg cylinder prices are still influenced by state-controlled Petrobras. Although restrictions on LPG use were established by law, there is an understanding from the federal Attorney General's Office that just a resolution from ANP would be sufficient to allow other uses. The review of the LPG restrictions are part of the ANP mission to give Brazil freedom of choice on energy sources for different applications based on their availability and cost, eliminating market barriers, said Deivson Matos Timbó, general coordinator for market monitoring at the MME. Currently, LPG represents just 3.2pc of the national energy use — less than firewood and natural gas. "Once the market develops it will mitigate any concerns of supply and demand," said Pedro João Zahran Turqueto, distributor Copa Energia's vice president of operations and strategy. Congressman Beto Pereira, who organized the meetings this week, said LPG has the potential to be a power generation fuel in remote areas, as well as a backup fuel for intermittent renewable energy generation, with lower transportation and storage costs than liquid hydrocarbons. The meeting in the lower house included representatives from ANP, MME, Brazil's energy research company EPE, LPG distributor Copa Energia, LPG association Sindigás and the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul state (UFMS), located in the center-western region. By Betina Moura Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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