Easwaran Kanason

Co - founder of NrgEdge
Last Updated: March 5, 2019
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Business Trends
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Another bonanza has been discovered in a part of the world that is gaining a reputation for blockbuster upstream discoveries. Last week, Cyprus announced a huge natural gas find in Block 10, with ExxonMobil – together with Qatar Petroleum - estimating that the ‘world-class discovery’ potentially holds up to 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

It’s the second major discovery in Cypriot waters in a decade after Aphrodite in 2011, and it may point the way forward for the island’s commercialisation strategy. Development of Aphrodite, and its 4.5 tcf of gas, has been delayed, largely due to the fact that the volumes far exceed domestic requirements but were too small to justify a LNG export terminal. Until now. Coupled with the Block 10 discovery – and promising geology in Block 7, where an operator will be chosen this year - Cyprus may now re-look into the possibility of exporting its natural gas as LNG, rather than greenlighting an export pipeline to Egypt and the LNG plant plans there.

Turkey, predictably, has protested. The island of Cyprus is divided between the internationally-recognised south and the northern breakaway province recognised only by Turkey. The Turkish government claims that all Cypriot waters are disputed as long as the island remains divided, and has occasionally attempted to block drilling activities in southern waters. But with Cyprus moving ahead with plans to become a regional energy powerhouse, Turkey too is looking for treasures. Upstream operations in the Eastern Mediterranean have begun, with test drilling some 60km south of Antalya and plans to drill in areas closer to Cyprus on the assertion that some Cypriot blocks are part of Turkey’s continental shelf.

These drilling activities could cause a stand-off, but the prizes could be great. In the last decade, the Eastern Mediterranean have yielded some amazing upstream finds and all countries have been struck with gold fever. Leading the pack is Egypt, whose massive Zohr discovery by Eni has started commercial production with output set to reach 3.2 bcf/d by end-2020. Initial assessment of Eni’s Nour field in Egypt suggests that it could hold at least 10 tcf of gas, potentially up to 30 tcf. And there is more action taking place – offshore and onshore – in Egypt that could accelerate its flip from being energy-poor to a serious gas superpower.

To the north, Israel has its giant 22tcf Leviathan field, which would see first gas by end 2019, and equally promising finds in the Karish and Tanin fields. The major finds have ‘inspired’ Lebanon to start its own upstream campaign – with a first exploration well planned by Total, Eni and Novatek next year – but Israel already has grumbles over some Lebanese blocks overlapping its own; even though Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations. Greece, too, has its own plans, though its discoveries are more oil thus far, with the Katakalon block expected to start production in 2020. But there could be plenty more, with Greece sanctioning ultra-deepwater explorations near Crete.

There is plenty of oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, it seems. But commercialisation is hampered by geopolitical strife. Cyprus and Turkey are at loggerheads. Lebanon and Israel don’t like each other, and Israel’s relationship with Turkey is testy. Egypt seems to be the most accommodating so far, which is why plans to sell East Med gas tend to centre around pipeline infrastructure to Egypt, where idled LNG plants have already restarted. But if the region’s politics could be overcome – and there is always the question mark of Syria – the Mediterranean could become a gas supplier to Europe that will rival Russia. If the countries could get along.

Recent major finds in the Eastern Mediterranean

  • 2009 – Tamar, Israel, 10.8 tcf, Noble Energy/Isramco/Delek/Avener/Dor Gas
  • 2010 – Leviathan, Israel, 22 tcf, Noble Energy/Delek/Ratio Oil
  • 2011 – Aphrodite, Cyprus, 4.5 tcf, Noble Energy
  • 2015 – Zohr, Egypt, 30 tcf, Eni/Rosneft/BP
  • November 2018 – Nour, Egypt, at least 10 tcf, Eni/Tharwa/Mubadala
  • February 2019 – Glaucus-1, Cyprus, 5-8 tcf, ExxonMobil/Qatar Petroleum

Read more:
Eastern Mediterranean cyprus exxon Aphrodite lng israel Eni Total
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The United States consumed a record amount of renewable energy in 2019

In 2019, consumption of renewable energy in the United States grew for the fourth year in a row, reaching a record 11.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or 11% of total U.S. energy consumption. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector chart published in the Monthly Energy Review shows how much renewable energy by source is consumed in each sector.

In its Monthly Energy Review, EIA converts sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu), to compare different types of energy that are more commonly measured in units that are not directly comparable, such as gallons of biofuels compared with kilowatthours of wind energy. EIA uses a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate primary energy consumption of noncombustible renewables such as wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal.

U.S. renewable energy consumption by sector

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Wind energy in the United States is almost exclusively used by wind-powered turbines to generate electricity in the electric power sector, and it accounted for about 24% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019. Wind surpassed hydroelectricity to become the most-consumed source of renewable energy on an annual basis in 2019.

Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 24% of U.S. renewable energy use in 2019. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as fuel to generate electricity, to produce heat, and to manufacture goods. About 2% of U.S. households used wood as their primary source of heat in 2019.

Hydroelectric power is almost exclusively used by water-powered turbines to generate electricity in the electric power sector and accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019. U.S. hydropower consumption has remained relatively consistent since the 1960s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.

Biofuels, including fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 20% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019. Biofuels usually are blended with petroleum-based motor gasoline and diesel and are consumed as liquid fuels in automobiles. Industrial consumption of biofuels accounts for about 36% of U.S. biofuel energy consumption.

Solar energy, consumed to generate electricity or directly as heat, accounted for about 9% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019 and had the largest percentage growth among renewable sources in 2019. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, including rooftop panels, and solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings heat with solar heating systems.

October, 20 2020
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operating natural-gas fired electric generating capacity by online year

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) annual survey of electric generators, natural gas-fired generators accounted for 43% of operating U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2019. These natural gas-fired generators provided 39% of electricity generation in 2019, more than any other source. Most of the natural gas-fired capacity added in recent decades uses combined-cycle technology, which surpassed coal-fired generators in 2018 to become the technology with the most electricity generating capacity in the United States.

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natural gas-fired electric gnerating capacity by retirement year

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Not only are combined-cycle systems more efficient than steam or combustion turbines alone, the combined-cycle systems installed more recently are more efficient than the combined-cycle units installed more than a decade ago. These changes in efficiency have reduced the amount of natural gas needed to produce the same amount of electricity. Combined-cycle generators consume 80% of the natural gas used to generate electric power but provide 85% of total natural gas-fired electricity.

operating natural gas-fired electric generating capacity in selected states

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Every U.S. state, except Vermont and Hawaii, has at least one utility-scale natural gas electric power plant. Texas, Florida, and California—the three states with the most electricity consumption in 2019—each have more than 35 gigawatts of natural gas-fired capacity. In many states, the majority of this capacity is combined-cycle technology, but 44% of New York’s natural gas capacity is steam turbines and 67% of Illinois’s natural gas capacity is combustion turbines.

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global energy consumption for power generation

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2020 (IEO2020)

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IEO2020 builds on the Reference case presented in IEO2019. The models, economic assumptions, and input oil prices from the IEO2019 Reference case largely remained unchanged, but EIA adjusted specific elements or assumptions to explore areas of uncertainty such as the rapid growth of renewable energy.

Because IEO2020 is based on the IEO2019 modeling platform and because it focuses on long-term electricity market dynamics, it does not include the impacts of COVID-19 and related mitigation efforts. The Annual Energy Outlook 2021 (AEO2021) and IEO2021 will both feature analyses of the impact of COVID-19 mitigation efforts on energy markets.

Asia infographic, as described in the article text


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2020 (IEO2020)
Note: Click to enlarge.

With the IEO2020 release, EIA is publishing new Plain Language documentation of EIA’s World Energy Projection System (WEPS), the modeling system that EIA uses to produce IEO projections. EIA’s new Handbook of Energy Modeling Methods includes sections on most WEPS components, and EIA will release more sections in the coming months.

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