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Malaysian Gas Association, the prominent voice of the natural gas industry in Malaysia. MGA is a non-profit organization representing members and companies involved in the entire value chain of the Malaysian gas industry.

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1. Malaysian Gas Association, also known as MGA, has been around since 1986 with its vision to promote the gas industry and its utilization as a clean an efficient energy source. What are the biggest achievements in the recent years, for the natural gas industry?


Malaysian Gas Association (MGA) represents 150 members, with one common mission to promote the advancement of sustainable gas industry in Malaysia. Our membership comprises companies serving the entire value chain of the natural gas industry; from upstream, midstream and to downstream, including major gas consumers.


MGA is excited to play its part in the transformational changes undergone by the natural gas industry in recent years.


Natural gas supply to Peninsular Malaysia is no longer an issue with the introduction of Re-Gasification Terminal (RGT1) in Sungai Udang, Melaka, back in 2013. RGT1 enables import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to supplement the gas supply from indigenous resources. The second RGT for the country, RGT2 in Pengerang, Johor, is expected to start commercial operation in 2018.


The completion of LNG import facility in RGT1 paved way for the implementation of Third Party Access (TPA) in January 2017. TPA opens the gas supply market to third parties. Now, anyone can sell gas to any consumer in Malaysia.


To enable TPA and open competition, the natural gas industry is transiting from regulated to market-based pricing. To achieve this, the regulated gas price has been increased by RM1.50 per mmBtu every six months. Once the gas price has achieved market parity, gas transactions will be based on willing buyer-willing seller concept. Gas at market price will attract more players to supply gas to consumers.


At MGA, we are encouraged that the Malaysian government has been fully committed to ensure this market liberalisation and market reforms. This will pave way towards realising MGA’s vision of a vibrant and sustainable gas industry that benefits the nation and its citizens.


2. With the Malaysian government moving to reduce carbon emission by 45% by 2030, how does this impact gas production?


International Energy Agency (IEA) has on 14 November 2017 launched their World Energy Outlook 2017. The report singled out natural gas as the best fossil fuel to complement renewable energy going towards 2040. This is because natural gas can operate in continuous base load, emitting the least CO2 and most flexible to support renewable energy. During the press conference to launch the WEO 2017, IEA regarded natural gas as “a good husband” to renewables. In fact, IEA expected natural gas to be the only fuel to increase by 2040.


Similarly, as Malaysia aspires to increase share of renewable energy in the energy mix, natural gas plays an even more important role in power generation. With majority of renewable energy expected to be generated by solar photovoltaic (PV), the electricity grid will need flexible power plants that can react quickly to the intermittent nature of power from PV. Gas turbine power plants are perfect for this role. Gas turbines can react quickly and emits much less CO2 in comparison to power plants using other fossil fuel.


In the transport sector, greater utilisation of natural gas for heavy transport, such as city buses and long haul commercial vehicles, can further reduce CO2 emissions.


In the industrial sector, combined heat and power using gas turbines in cogeneration application increases efficiency of the system. This means less fuel is needed and less CO2 emitted.


In conclusion, in order to achieve target GHG emission reduction, the nation needs natural gas even more

 

3. Global demand for natural gas has been increasing steadily over the years. When do you foresee a peak in demand for gas? 


DNV GL this year released a report on “Energy Transition Outlook 2017” foresee that natural gas is set to be the largest single source of energy towards 2050 with peak demand occurring in 2035.


In Malaysia, MGA is constantly promoting greater utilisation of gas in all sectors, including power generation, transport, industrial and commercial.  The third party access is expected to further spur the growth of demand for natural gas.


4. How has technology helped in shaping the industry? Can you share an example of advancement in technology that has spurred the growth for gas production? 


We are proud that MGA members are leaders in innovation and technological advancement.


PETRONAS for example continues to be a pioneer in global gas industry, being innovative in the fast track construction of the re-gasification terminal using floating storage units (FSU) in Melaka and the world’s first floating LNG (FLNG) plant that will unlock small and stranded gas fields that were once uneconomical to explore.


5. What are the biggest challenges in the foreseeable future for the industry?


Malaysia’s gas industry entered an exciting phase this year with The Implementation of the third party access, enabling any supplier to bring natural gas into Malaysia. TPA ensures sufficient supply and energy security for the nation. For TPA to be successful, there should be higher demand for natural gas in Malaysia, creating a market large enough to attract third parties.


In 2015, the power generation sector consumed more than 50% of the total natural gas supplied in Malaysia, making that sector the most attractive market for gas suppliers. However, natural gas share in the power generation mix is set to drop from 46% in 2015 to a mere 32% in 2026. In contrast, coal share increases from 48% to 56%. Coal is preferred over gas due to lower cost of generating power, even though the CO2 and pollutant emissions are higher.


6. In today’s world, what do you think are the necessary skills and traits that are important for a young professional to have when entering the job market?


MGA recently organised a three-day programme for final year university students called PRESTIGE that includes exposing them to careers in the oil & gas industry. We arranged for oil & gas professionals from varied backgrounds to share their career experiences and provide career tips. One of the tips given that resonates with the students was to keep gaining knowledge. Learning does not stop once a student graduates.


7. With the advancement of technology and the internet, how do you think young professionals should capitalize on this to further their career and self-improvement?


Learning does not stop once a student graduates. The advice from a seasoned oil & gas professional during MGA’s PRESTIGE programme was to keep gaining knowledge. The digitalised and borderless world enables easy access to beneficial knowledge.


8. How important has collaboration and professional networking been in reaching where you are today in life?

 
MGA is a charter member of the International Gas Union (IGU), the global voice for gas, with members from 90 countries. IGU provides global networking platform for its members to share knowledge and best practices in the industry.


In Malaysia, MGA continuously collaborate with several other organisations. This year, we collaborated with PEMANDU Associates to organise the inaugural Forum on Women in Energy (FoWiE). Other organisations that supported FoWiE were 30% Club, PETRONAS Leading Women Network, Shell Women Action Network and General Electric Women Network. Such collaborations increase networking opportunities for MGA and its members. FoWiE provided a rare and unique platform for women in the energy sector to congregate, network and discuss common issues.

 

9. What is next in the development and progress plans of gas industry in Malaysia?


To achieve a sustainable gas industry, it is imperative that the gas industry reform and market liberalization remain on track and demand growth for gas increase exponentially.


One of the priorities for MGA is to enhance gas advocacy. Gas has all the attributes to support the national aspirations to ensure energy security whilst achieving reduction in carbon emission as committed in the Paris Agreement.

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Myanmar’s Coup and Repercussions to Its Oil Industry

It was a good run while it lasted. Almost exactly a decade ago, the military junta in Myanmar was dissolved, following civilian elections. The country’s figurehead, Aung San Suu Kyi, was released from house arrest to lead, following in the footsteps of her father. Although her reputation has since been tarnished with the Rohingya crisis, she remains beloved by most of her countrymen, and her installation as Myanmar’s de facto leader lead to a golden economic age. Sanctions were eased, trade links were restored, and investment flowed in, not least in the energy sector. Yet the military still remained a powerful force, lurking in the background. In early February, they bared their fangs. Following an election in November 2020 in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won an outright majority in both houses of Parliament. A coup d’etat was instigated, with the Tatmadaw – the Burmese military – decrying fraud in the election. Key politicians were arrested, and rule returned to the military.

For many Burmese, this was a return to a dark past that many thought was firmly behind them. Widespread protests erupted, quickly turning violent. The Tatmadaw still has an iron grip, but it has created some bizarre situations – ordinary Burmese citizens calling on Facebook and foreign governments to impose sanctions on their country, while the Myanmar ambassador to the United Nations was fired for making an anti-army speech at the UN General Assembly.

The path forward for Myanmar from this point is unclear. The Tatmadaw has declared a state of emergency lasting up to a year, promising new elections by the end of 2021. There is little doubt that the NLD will win yet another supermajority in the election, IF they are fair and free. But that is a big if. Meanwhile, the coup threatens to return Myanmar to the pariah state that it was pre-2010. And threatens to abort all the grand economic progress made since.

In the decade since military rule was abolished, development in Myanmar has been rapid. In the capital city Yangon, glittering new malls have been developed. The Ministry of Energy in 2009 was housed in a crumbling former high school; today, it occupies a sprawling complex in the new administrative capital of Naypyidaw. While not exactly up to the level of the Department of Energy in Washington DC, it is certainly no longer than ministry that was once reputed to take up to three years to process exploration licences for offshore oil and gas blocks.

And it is that very future that is now at stake. Energy has been a great focus for investment in Myanmar, drawn by the rich offshore deposits in the Andaman Sea and the country’s location as a possible pipeline route between the Middle East and inland China. Estimates suggest that – based on pre-coup trends – Myanmar was likely to attract over US$1.1 billion in upstream investment in 2023, more than four times projected for 2021 and almost 20 times higher than 2011. The funds would not only be directed at maintaining production at the current Yadana, Yetagun, Zawtika and Shwe gas fields – where offshore production is mainly exported to Thailand, but also upcoming megaprojects such as Woodside and Total’s A-6 deepwater natural gas and PTTEP’s Aung Sinka Block M3 developments.

The coup now presents foreign investors in Myanmar’s upstream energy sector with a conundrum and reputational risk. Stay, and risk being seen as abetting an undemocratic government? Or leave, and risk being flushing away years of hard work? The home governments of foreign investors such as Total, Chevron, PTTEP, Woodside, Petronas, ONGC, Nippon Oil, Kogas, POSCO, Sumitomo, Mitsui and others have already condemned the coup. For now these companies are hoping that foreign pressure will resolve the situation in a short enough timeframe to allow business to resume. Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has already called the coup a ‘transitionary issue’ claiming that it will not affect its exploration plans, while other operators such as Total and Petronas have focused on the safety of their employees as they ‘monitor the evolving situation’.

But the longer the coup lasts without a resolution satisfactory to the international community and the longer the protests last (and the more deaths that result from that), the more untenable the position of the foreign upstream players will be. Asian investors, especially the Chinese, mainly through CNPC/PetroChina, and the Thais, through PTTEP - will be relatively insulated, but American and European majors face bigger risks. This could jeopardise key projects such as the Myanmar-to-China crude oil and natural gas pipeline project (a 771km connection to Yunnan), two LNG-to-power projects (Thaketa and Thilawa, meant to deal with the country’s chronic blackouts) and the massive Block A-6 gas development in the Shwe Yee Htun field by Woodside which just kicked off a fourth drilling campaign in December.

It is a big unknown. The Tatmadaw has proven to be impervious to foreign criticism in the past, ignoring even the most stringent sanctions thrown their way. In fact, it was a huge surprise that the army even relinquished power back in 2010. But the situation has changed. The Myanmar population is now more connected and more aware, while the army has profited off the opening of the economy. The economic consequences of returning to its darker days might be enough to trigger a resolution. But that’s not a guarantee. What is certain is that the coup will have a lasting effect on energy investment and plans in Myanmar. How long and how deep is a question that only the Tatmadaw can answer. 

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$63-65/b, WTI – US$60-63/b
  • The slow-but-sure recovery in Texan energy infrastructure following the big freeze has caused crude oil benchmarks to retreat somewhat, with all eyes now focusing on OPEC+ as it meets to decide its supply quotas for April and beyond
  • Some form of supply easing is expected, given that the market is showing signs of tight supply, but OPEC+ is still split on how aggressive it can be; Saudi Arabia is advocating caution while most others, led by Russia, favour a bolder easing given current prices
  • While OPEC+ supply will be keenly watched as an indicator of future crude trends, supply elsewhere is picking up, with the Baker Hughes survey of active oil and gas rigs in the USA crossing the 400-site level for the first time in over a year, with gains mainly from onshore shale drillers tempted back after being wiped up last year

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March, 03 2021
The Competition For The LNG Crown

The year 2020 was exceptional in many ways, to say the least. All of which, lockdowns and meltdowns, managed to overshadow a changing of the guard in the LNG world. After leapfrogging Indonesia as the world’s largest LNG producer in 2006, Qatar was surpassed by Australia in 2020 when the final figures for 2019 came in. That this happened was no surprise; it was always a foregone conclusion given Australia’s massive LNG projects developed over the last decade. Were it not for the severe delays in completion, Australia would have taken the crown much earlier; in fact, by capacity, Australia already sailed past Qatar in 2018.

But Australia should not rest on its laurels. The last of the LNG mega-projects in Western Australia, Shell’s giant floating Prelude and Inpex’s sprawling Ichthys onshore complex, have been completed. Additional phases will provide incremental new capacity, but no new mega-projects are on the horizon, for now. Meanwhile, after several years of carefully managing its vast capacity, Qatar is now embarking on its own LNG infrastructure investment spree that should see it reclaim its LNG exporter crown in 2030.

Key to this is the vast North Field, the single largest non-associated gas field in the world. Straddling the maritime border between tiny Qatar and its giant neighbour Iran to the north, Qatar Petroleum has taken the final investment decision to develop the North Field East Project (NFE) this month. With a total price tag of US$28.75 billion, development will kick off in 2021 and is expected to start production in late 2025. Completion of the NFE will raise Qatar’s LNG production capacity from a current 77 million tons per annum to 110 mmtpa. This is easily higher than Australia’s current installed capacity of 88 mmtpa, but the difficulty in anticipating future utilisation rates means that Qatar might not retake pole position immediately. But it certainly will by 2030, when the second phase of the project – the North Field South (NFS) – is slated to start production. This would raise Qatar’s installed capacity to 126 mmtpa, cementing its lead further still, with Qatar Petroleum also stating that it is ‘evaluating further LNG capacity expansions’ beyond that ceiling. If it does, then it should be more big leaps, since this tiny country tends to do things in giant steps, rather than small jumps.

Will there be enough buyers for LNG at the time, though? With all the conversation about sustainability and carbon neutrality, does natural gas still have a role to play? Predicting the future is always difficult, but the short answer, based on current trends, it is a simple yes. 

Supermajors such as Shell, BP and Total have set carbon neutral targets for their operations by 2050. Under the Paris Agreement, many countries are also aiming to reduce their carbon emissions significantly as well; even the USA, under the new Biden administration, has rejoined the accord. But carbon neutral does not mean zero carbon. It means that the net carbon emissions of a company or of a country is zero. Emissions from one part of the pie can be offset by other parts of the pie, with the challenge being to excise the most polluting portions to make the overall goal of balancing emissions around the target easier. That, in energy terms, means moving away from dirtier power sources such as coal and oil, towards renewables such as solar and wind, as well as offsets such as carbon capture technology or carbon trading/pricing. Natural gas and LNG sit right in the middle of that spectrum: cleaner than conventional coal and oil, but still ubiquitous enough to be commercially viable.

So even in a carbon neutral world, there is a role for LNG to play. And crucially, demand is expected to continue rising. If ‘peak oil’ is now expected to be somewhere in the 2020s, then ‘peak gas’ is much further, post-2040s. In 2010, only 23 countries had access to LNG import facilities, led by Japan. In 2019, 43 countries now import LNG and that number will continue to rise as increased supply liquidity, cheaper pricing and infrastructural improvements take place. China will overtake Japan as the world’s largest LNG importer soon, while India just installed another 5 mmtpa import terminal in Hazira. More densely populated countries are hopping on the LNG bandwagon soon, the Philippines (108 million people), Vietnam (96 million people), to ensure a growing demand base for the fuel. Qatar’s central position in the world, sitting just between Europe and Asia, is a perfect base to service this growing demand.

There is competition, of course. Russia is increasingly moving to LNG as well, alongside its dominant position in piped natural gas. And there is the USA. By 2025, the USA should have 107 mmtpa of LNG capacity from currently sanctioned projects. That will be enough to make the USA the second-largest LNG exporter in the world, overtaking Australia. With a higher potential ceiling, the USA could also overtake Qatar eventually, since its capacity is driven by private enterprise rather than the controlled, centralised approach by Qatar Petroleum. The appearance of US LNG on the market has been a gamechanger; with lower costs, American LNG is highly competitive, having gone as far as Poland and China in a few short years. But while the average US LNG breakeven cost is estimated at around US$6.50-7.50/mmBtu, Qatar’s is even lower at US$4/mmBtu. Advantage: Qatar.

But there is still room for everyone in this growing LNG market. By 2030, global LNG demand is expected to grow to 580 million tons per annum, from a current 360 mmtpa. More LNG from Qatar is not just an opportunity, it is a necessity. Traditional LNG producers such as Malaysia and Indonesia are seeing waning volumes due to field maturity, but there is plenty of new capacity planned: in the USA, in Canada, in Egypt, in Israel, in Mozambique, and, of course, in Qatar. In that sense, it really doesn’t matter which country holds the crown of the world’s largest exporter, because LNG demand is a rising tide, and a rising tide lifts all 😊

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$64-66/b, WTI – US$60-63/b
  • Despite the thaw after Texas saw a devastating big freeze, the slow ramp-up in restoring US Gulf Coast oil production and refining has supported crude oil prices, with Brent moving above the US$65/b level and WTI now in the low US$60/b level
  • Some Wall Street analysts, including Goldman Sachs, are predicting that oil prices could climb above US$70/b level based on current fundamentals, as the short-term spike gives ways to accelerating consumption trends
  • However, much will depend on OPEC+’s approach to managing supply in Q2, with a meeting set for early March; Saudi Arabia is once again urging caution, but there are many other members of the club champing at the bit to increase output and capitalise on the rising price environment


March, 01 2021
EIA forecasts the U.S. will import more petroleum than it exports in 2021 and 2022

Throughout much of its history, the United States has imported more petroleum (which includes crude oil, refined petroleum products, and other liquids) than it has exported. That status changed in 2020. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) February 2021 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) estimates that 2020 marked the first year that the United States exported more petroleum than it imported on an annual basis. However, largely because of declines in domestic crude oil production and corresponding increases in crude oil imports, EIA expects the United States to return to being a net petroleum importer on an annual basis in both 2021 and 2022.

EIA expects that increasing crude oil imports will drive the growth in net petroleum imports in 2021 and 2022 and more than offset changes in refined product net trade. EIA forecasts that net imports of crude oil will increase from its 2020 average of 2.7 million barrels per day (b/d) to 3.7 million b/d in 2021 and 4.4 million b/d in 2022.

Compared with crude oil trade, net exports of refined petroleum products did not change as much during 2020. On an annual average basis, U.S. net petroleum product exports—distillate fuel oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, and motor gasoline, among others—averaged 3.2 million b/d in 2019 and 3.4 million b/d in 2020. EIA forecasts that net petroleum product exports will average 3.5 million b/d in 2021 and 3.9 million b/d in 2022 as global demand for petroleum products continues to increase from its recent low point in the first half of 2020.

U.S. quarterly crude oil production, net trade, and refinery runs

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), February 2021

EIA expects that the United States will import more crude oil to fill the widening gap between refinery inputs of crude oil and domestic crude oil production in 2021 and 2022. U.S. crude oil production declined by an estimated 0.9 million b/d (8%) to 11.3 million b/d in 2020 because of well curtailment and a drop in drilling activity related to low crude oil prices.

EIA expects the rising price of crude oil, which started in the fourth quarter of 2020, will contribute to more U.S. crude oil production later this year. EIA forecasts monthly domestic crude oil production will reach 11.3 million b/d by the end of 2021 and 11.9 million b/d by the end of 2022. These values are increases from the most recent monthly average of 11.1 million b/d in November 2020 (based on data in EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly) but still lower than the previous peak of 12.9 million b/d in November 2019.

February, 18 2021