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.
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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In a few days, the bi-annual OPEC meeting will take place on November 30, leading into a wider OPEC+ meeting on December 30. This is what all the political jostling and negotiations currently taking place is leading up to, as the coalition of major oil producers under the OPEC+ banner decide on the next step of its historic and ambitious supply control plan. Designed to prop up global oil prices by managing supply, a postponement of the next phase in the supply deal is widely expected. But there are many cracks appearing beneath the headline.
A quick recap. After Saudi Arabia and Russia triggered a price war in March 2020 that led to a collapse in oil prices (with US crude prices briefly falling into negative territory due to the technical quirk), OPEC and its non-OPEC allies (known collectively as OPEC+) agreed to a massive supply quota deal that would throttle their production for 2 years. The initial figure was 10 mmb/d, until Mexico’s reticence brought that down to 9.7 mmb/d. This was due to fall to 7.7 mmb/d by July 2020, but soft demand forced a delay, while Saudi Arabia led the charge to ensure full compliance from laggards, which included Iraq, Nigeria and (unusually) the UAE. The next tranche will bring the supply control ceiling down to 5.7 mmb/d. But given that Covid-19 is still raging globally (despite promising vaccine results), this might be too much too soon. Yes, prices have recovered, but at US$40/b crude, this is still not sufficient to cover the oil-dependent budgets of many OPEC+ nations. So a delay is very likely.
But for how long? The OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee panel has suggested that the next step of the plan (which will effectively boost global supply by 2 mmb/d) be postponed by 3-6 months. This move, if adopted, will have been presaged by several public statements by OPEC+ leaders, including a pointed comment from OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo that producers must be ready to respond to ‘shifts in market fundamentals’.
On the surface, this is a necessary move. Crude prices have rallied recently – to as high as US$45/b – on positive news of Covid-19 vaccines. Treatments from Pfizer, Moderna and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca have touted 90%+ effectiveness in various forms, with countries such as the US, Germany and the UK ordering billions of doses and setting the stage for mass vaccinations beginning December. Life returning to a semblance of normality would lift demand, particularly in key products such as gasoline (as driving rates increase) and jet fuel (allowing a crippled aviation sector to return to life). Underpinning the rally is the understanding that OPEC+ will always act in the market’s favour, carefully supporting the price recovery. But there are already grouses among OPEC members that they are doing ‘too much’. Led by Saudi Arabia, the draconian dictates of meeting full compliance to previous quotas have ruffled feathers, although most members have reluctantly attempt to abide by them. But there is a wider existential issue that OPEC+ is merely allowing its rivals to resuscitate and leapfrog them once again; the US active oil rig count by Baker Hughes has reversed a chronic decline trend, as WTI prices are at levels above breakeven for US shale.
Complaints from Iran, Iraq and Nigeria are to be expected, as is from Libya as it seeks continued exemption from quotas due to the legacy of civil war even though it has recently returned to almost full production following a truce. But grievance is also coming from an unexpected quarter: the UAE. A major supporter in the Saudi Arabia faction of OPEC, reports suggest that the UAE (led by the largest emirate, Abu Dhabi) are privately questioning the benefit of remaining in OPEC. Beset by shrivelling oil revenue, the Emiratis have been grumbling about the fairness of their allocated quota as they seek to rebuild their trade-dependent economy. There has been suggestion that the Emiratis could even leave OPEC if decisions led to a net negative outcome for them. Unlike the Qatar exit, this will not just be a blow to OPEC as a whole, questioning its market relevance but to Saudi Arabia’s lead position, as it loses one of its main allies, reducing its negotiation power. And if the UAE leaves, Kuwait could follow, which would leave the Saudis even more isolated.
This could be a tactic to increase the volume of the UAE’s voice in OPEC+, which has been dominated by Saudi Arabia and Russia. But it could also be a genuine policy shift. Either way, it throws even more conundrums onto a delicate situation that could undermine an already fragile market. Despite the positive market news led by Covid-19 vaccines and demand recovery in Asia, American crude oil inventories in Cushing are now approaching similar high levels last seen in April (just before the WTI crash) while OPEC itself has lowered its global demand forecast for 2020 by 300,000 b/d. That’s dangerous territory to be treading in, especially if members of the OPEC+ club are threatening to exit and undermine the pack. A postponement of the plan seems inevitable on December 1 at this point, but it is what lies beyond the immediate horizon that is the true threat to OPEC+.
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In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) November Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will remain near its current level through the end of 2021.
A record 12.9 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil was produced in the United States in November 2019 and was at 12.7 million b/d in March 2020, when the President declared a national emergency concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. Crude oil production then fell to 10.0 million b/d in May 2020, the lowest level since January 2018.
By August, the latest monthly data available in EIA’s series, production of crude oil had risen to 10.6 million b/d in the United States, and the U.S. benchmark price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil had increased from a monthly average of $17 per barrel (b) in April to $42/b in August. EIA forecasts that the WTI price will average $43/b in the first half of 2021, up from our forecast of $40/b during the second half of 2020.
The U.S. crude oil production forecast reflects EIA’s expectations that annual global petroleum demand will not recover to pre-pandemic levels (101.5 million b/d in 2019) through at least 2021. EIA forecasts that global consumption of petroleum will average 92.9 million b/d in 2020 and 98.8 million b/d in 2021.
The gradual recovery in global demand for petroleum contributes to EIA’s forecast of higher crude oil prices in 2021. EIA expects that the Brent crude oil price will increase from its 2020 average of $41/b to $47/b in 2021.
EIA’s crude oil price forecast depends on many factors, especially changes in global production of crude oil. As of early November, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and partner countries (OPEC+) were considering plans to keep production at current levels, which could result in higher crude oil prices. OPEC+ had previously planned to ease production cuts in January 2021.
Other factors could result in lower-than-forecast prices, especially a slower recovery in global petroleum demand. As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, some parts of the United States are adding restrictions such as curfews and limitations on gatherings and some European countries are re-instituting lockdown measures.
EIA recently published a more detailed discussion of U.S. crude oil production in This Week in Petroleum.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will earn about $323 billion in net oil export revenues in 2020. If realized, this forecast revenue would be the lowest in 18 years. Lower crude oil prices and lower export volumes drive this expected decrease in export revenues.
Crude oil prices have fallen as a result of lower global demand for petroleum products because of responses to COVID-19. Export volumes have also decreased under OPEC agreements limiting crude oil output that were made in response to low crude oil prices and record-high production disruptions in Libya, Iran, and to a lesser extent, Venezuela.
OPEC earned an estimated $595 billion in net oil export revenues in 2019, less than half of the estimated record high of $1.2 trillion, which was earned in 2012. Continued declines in revenue in 2020 could be detrimental to member countries’ fiscal budgets, which rely heavily on revenues from oil sales to import goods, fund social programs, and support public services. EIA expects a decline in net oil export revenue for OPEC in 2020 because of continued voluntary curtailments and low crude oil prices.
The benchmark Brent crude oil spot price fell from an annual average of $71 per barrel (b) in 2018 to $64/b in 2019. EIA expects Brent to average $41/b in 2020, based on forecasts in EIA’s October 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). OPEC petroleum production averaged 36.6 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2018 and fell to 34.5 million b/d in 2019; EIA expects OPEC production to decline a further 3.9 million b/d to average 30.7 million b/d in 2020.
EIA based its OPEC revenues estimate on forecast petroleum liquids production—including crude oil, condensate, and natural gas plant liquids—and forecast values of OPEC petroleum consumption and crude oil prices.
EIA recently published a more detailed discussion of OPEC revenue in This Week in Petroleum.