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 March 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production (excluding condensate) averaged 840,000 barrels per day (b/d), down from 1.1 million b/d in February, according to estimates in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) April 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook(STEO, Figure 1). This average is the lowest level since January 2003, when a nationwide strike and civil unrest largely brought Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.'s (PdVSA), operations to a halt. Widespread power outages, mismanagement of the country's oil industry, and U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector and PdVSA have all contributed to the recent declines. Venezuela's production decreased by an average of 33,000 b/d each month in 2018, and the rate of decline accelerated to an average of over 135,000 b/d per month in the first quarter of 2019. The number of active oil rigs—an indicator of future oil production—also fell from nearly 70 rigs in the first quarter of 2016 to 24 rigs in the first quarter of 2019. The declines in Venezuelan production will have limited effects on the United States, as U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil have decreased over the last several years, with average 2018 imports the lowest since 1989. However, there may be upward pressure on the prices of other crude oils imported into the United States.
Venezuela's production is expected to continue decreasing in 2019 and declines may accelerate as sanctions-related deadlines approach. These deadlines include provisions that third-party entities that use the U.S. financial system must cease transactions with PdVSA by April 28 and that U.S. companies, including oil service companies, involved in the oil sector must cease operations in Venezuela by July 27. Venezuela's chronic shortage of workers across the industry and the departure of U.S. oilfield service companies will likely contribute to a further step-level decrease in production.
Additionally, U.S. sanctions, as outlined in the January 25, 2019, Executive Order 13857, immediately banned exporting petroleum products—including unfinished oils that are blended with Venezuela's heavy crude oil for processing—from the United States to Venezuela and required payments for PdVSA-owned petroleum and petroleum products to be placed into an escrow account inaccessible by the company. The imposition of these sanctions has already affected oil trade between the United States and Venezuela in both directions. Preliminary weekly estimates indicate a significant decline in U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in February and March, as without direct access to cash payments, PdVSA had little reason to export crude oil to the United States. India, China, and some European countries continued to take Venezuela's crude oil, according to data published by ClipperData Inc., while the destinations of some vessels carrying Venezuelan crude oil remain unknown (Figure 2). Venezuela is likely keeping some crude oil cargoes intended for exports in floating storage until it finds buyers for the cargoes.
A series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, likely damaging the reservoirs and associated infrastructure. In the Orinoco Oil Belt area, Venezuela produces extra-heavy crude oil that requires dilution with condensate or other light oils produced using complex processing units, or upgraders, to upgrade the crude oil before it is sent via pipeline to domestic refineries or export terminals. These upgraders were shut down in March during the power outages. If the crude or upgraded oil cannot flow as a result of a lack of power to the pumping infrastructure, the heavier molecules sink and form a tar-like layer in the pipelines that can hinder the flow from resuming even after the power outages are resolved. However, according to tanker tracking data, Venezuela's main export terminal at Puerto José was apparently able to load crude oil onto vessels between power outages, possibly indicating that the loaded crude oil was taken from onshore storage. For this reason, EIA estimates that Venezuela's production fell at a faster rate than its exports.
In 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production decline has resulted from a combination of disruptions and lost capacity. EIA differentiates among voluntary production reductions; unplanned production outages, or disruptions; and expected declines in production. For the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), voluntary cutbacks count toward spare capacity. EIA defines spare crude oil production capacity as potential oil production that could be brought online within 30 days and sustained for at least 90 days, consistent with sound business practices.
For all countries, involuntary disruptions do not count as spare capacity. Events that could cause a disruption include, but are not limited to, sanctions, armed conflict, labor actions, natural disasters, or unplanned maintenance. In contrast, EIA considers production capacity declines that result from irreparable damage to be lost capacity and not a disruption. EIA no longer counts the lost production because it is very unlikely that it could return within one year and add to global supplies.
Because the power outages in Venezuela resulted from a lack of maintenance of the electricity grid, associated crude oil production declines are considered lost production capacity resulting from mismanagement. As of the April 2019 STEO, EIA includes the portion of Venezuela's production decline that resulted from U.S. sanctions—approximately 100,000 b/d beginning in February—as a disruption (Figure 3). If sanctions persist, the country will likely be unable to restart the disrupted portion of production and the 100,000 b/d will become lost capacity. Although EIA does not forecast unplanned production outages, its forecast for OPEC production totals will reflect declines in Venezuelan production.
As Venezuelan crude oil has come off the global market and as other countries—including the United States—have produced more light, sweet crude oil, the price discount of heavy, sour crudes has narrowed. U.S. refineries are among the most complex in the world, making them well-suited for the physical properties of Venezuelan crude oil (with high sulfur content and heavier API gravity). Heavier, more sour crude oil is typically priced lower than other crude oils because of differences in crude oil quality. Mars—a medium, sour crude oil produced in the U.S. Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico—traded at a five-year (2014–18) average discount to Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) of $3.94 per barrel (b). The Mars-LLS discount has narrowed in 2019, averaging $0.62/b in March, and even reached parity on March 27 (Figure 4).
Venezuela's crude oil production is forecasted to continue to fall through at least the end of 2020, reflecting an expectation of further declines in crude oil production capacity. Although EIA does not publish forecasts for individual OPEC countries, it does publish total OPEC crude oil and other liquids production. Further disruptions to Venezuela's production beyond what is currently included would change this forecast.
U.S. average regular gasoline and diesel fuel prices increase
The U.S. average regular gasoline retail price increased more than 1 cent from a week ago to $2.84 per gallon on April 22, more than 4 cents higher than the same time last year. The Rocky Mountain price increased nearly 12 cents to $2.76 per gallon, the West Coast price rose 5 cents to $3.63 per gallon, and the East Coast price increased nearly 2 cents to $2.73 per gallon. The Midwest price decreased more than 1 cent to $2.72 per gallon, and the Gulf Coast price fell slightly, remaining virtually unchanged at $2.54 per gallon.
The U.S. average diesel fuel price increased nearly 3 cents to $3.15 per gallon on April 22, more than 1 cent higher than the same time last year. The Rocky Mountain price increased 6 cents to $3.14 per gallon, the West Coast price increased nearly 5 cents to $3.70 per gallon, the Midwest price increased more than 3 cents to $3.04 per gallon, and the East Coast and Gulf Coast prices increased 2 cents to $3.17 per gallon and $2.92 per gallon, respectively.
Propane/propylene inventories rise
U.S. propane/propylene stocks increased by 1.0 million barrels last week to 57.8 million barrels as of April 19, 2019, 10.6 million barrels (22.5%) greater than the five-year (2014-2018) average inventory levels for this same time of year. Midwest inventories increased by 0.6 million barrels, while East Coast and Gulf Coast inventories each increased by 0.3 million barrels. Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 10.4% of total propane/propylene inventories.
A tremor ran through the oil & gas industry last week. It wasn’t a by-product of fracking activity, but it is certainly linked. Supermajor Chevron agreed to purchase US independent Anadarko Petroleum for US$33 billion, a 39% premium to Anadarko’s last traded price. It’s the largest industry deal since Shell’s US$61 billion takeover of the BG Group in 2015. That deal catapulted Shell to become the world’s largest LNG trader, expanding its reach in the fast-evolving industry. Chevron will be looking to do the same.
The purchase of Anadarko gets Chevron into two prolific areas: the Permian Basin in the US and LNG. Chevron is already one of the largest supermajors operating in the Permian, with 2.3 million acres in the area. In this respect, the purchase is strategic. Combined with Anadarko’s assets, Chevron would now have a 120 sq.km corridor in the sweet spot of the shale basin – Delaware, which straddles the Texas-New Mexico border. It’s a major salvo fired and a great boost to Chevron’s ambitions, which named investment in the Permian as its major focus last year. But more than just extracting oil, the purchase plugs a hole in Chevron’s portfolio. Through Anadarko, Chevron will gain major US midstream space, including a 55% stake in the Western Midstream Partners whose pipelines crosses all over Texas, linking the Permian to the processing and exporting base on the Gulf.
Internationally, the acquisition also boosts Chevron’s presence in LNG, which had recently lagged behind other supermajors like Shell, ExxonMobil and Total. Anadarko’s Mozambique LNG project is neck-in-neck to become the African nation’s first LNG project with ExxonMobil. Drawing on Mozambique’s prolific Rovuma basin, the LNG export project has a nameplate capacity of 12.88 mtpa, of which 8.5 mtpa has already been committed through sales and purchase agreements. With FID scheduled for this year and operations expected in the 2023/24 timeframe, it complements Chevron’s current LNG portfolio – including the massive projects in Western Australia – nicely.
Together with recent investments in the upper echelon of energy companies, it seems the moniker supermajor may not be enough. Within the supermajor category, there was already a hierarchy, with ExxonMobil and Shell outpacing the rest. With this Anadarko apurchase, Chevron leaps into that tier, which analysts are calling ultramajors. That is, if there isn’t a spanner in the works. Occidental Petroleum, which is also focused on the Permian, had previously made a US$70 per share bid for Anadarko. It is now considering a counter proposal. The battle for Anadarko will go on, but we expect that Chevron will prevail, seeing how Anadarko’s operations fit so neatly into its own portfolio.
But more than just Chevron, could this be a preview of the future? The US shale revolution was kickstarted by plucky companies and ambitious independents, while the majors lost out. With this Chevron deal – along with ExxonMobil’s expansion and BP’s recent purchase of BHP assets – this could kick off another round of industry consolidation, centred around buying the way into the Permian and other shale basins. This might be a major purchase that shakes up the status quo, but if the signs are correct, there is more of this to come.
Infographic: The Chevron-Anadarko deal
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 15 April 2019 – Brent: US$71/b; WTI: US$63/b
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