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Gas prices hit record lows but production set to boom

Natural gas prices in the US have hit their lowest level since 1974. European gas prices and liquefied natural gas prices in Asia have fallen below levels last recorded before the Russia-induced crisis began in 2022. A mild winter, lower European industrial consumption and booming US output have all contributed to this. Low gas prices later this decade could help the fuel replace polluting coal in Asia, and drive change in industry business models.

Undeterred, QatarEnergy announced on Sunday that it would expand its LNG capacity even further, adding another plant with a capacity of 16 million tonnes a year by 2030. The company has appraised its giant North Field and found another 240 trillion cubic feet in the western part. Chief executive Saad Al Kaabi said the move would raise the country’s reserves to more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet, which would be the largest in the world, ahead of Russia and Iran.

On the same day, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy said another 15 trillion cubic feet of gas and 2 billion barrels of condensate, a light oil separated from gas, had been found at the Jafurah field, a large unconventional resource in the eastern part of the country.


US interest rate caution hovers over oil prices

Oil prices dipped on Friday but rose on Monday. US Federal Reserve officials remain cautious about interest rate cuts. Production by Opec producers was down 350,000 barrels per day in January, and the Opec+ alliance, which includes Russia, is expected to extend production cuts that are in place until the end of the first quarter.


Solar power on the up

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has reached financial close with Abu Dhabi clean energy company Masdar on the sixth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park. The Dh5.51 billion ($1.4 billion) phase, the park’s largest to date, will add 1.8 gigawatts in stages from the fourth quarter of this year. Masdar bid 1.62154 US cents per kilowatt hour, the cheapest Dewa has achieved. The sixth phase will bring total capacity to 4.66 gigawatts by 2026, slightly short of the park’s total intended capacity of five gigawatts by 2030.

The Emirates Water and Electricity Company is close to signing a deal for its own large solar plant, the 1.5-gigawatt station in Ajban, which is to be operational by 2026 or before. Further 1.5-gigawatt plants at Al Khazna and an unnamed future station are on the way.

Private equity is increasingly interested in investing in the UAE’s renewable sector, says Massimo Falcioni, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office’s chief competitiveness officer.

Gautam Adani, the chairman of ports-to-coal-to-solar Indian conglomerate Adani Group, has seen his net wealth recover above $100 billion as his companies continue to rebound after damaging allegations of financial misconduct last January.

Ma’aden of Saudi Arabia, the Arab region’s biggest mining company, could be “at the centre of the world’s next gold rush”, says its chief executive. The company has made large discoveries of the precious metal around Makkah.


Five top environmental gatherings setting this year’s agenda

Five crucial environmental meetings are set to take place this year. In addition to Cop29 in Baku in November, there will be the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi next week, the UN biodiversity summit in Colombia in October and November, talks on plastic pollution in the South Korean city of Busan in November and December, and discussions on combating desertification in Riyadh in December. Although sometimes frustratingly slow, environmental multilateralism is our best hope of tackling these problems.

Antarctica’s “Doomsday” Thwaites glacier began melting as early as the 1940s after an extreme El Nino event. Complete melting of the glacier, the world’s widest, could cause a significant rise in sea levels.


Cleaning up ships, planes, stoves and UK homes

Shipping and aviation are two of the most challenging sectors when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Boeing has complained that big oil companies are not doing enough to produce sustainable jet fuel, which is made from waste, bio-feedstocks or hydrogen. The supply of SAF meets barely 1 per cent of airlines’ fuel needs.

The maritime industry is trying various approaches to cut its emissions. A new take on an old technology is one promising option: A chemical tanker has set sail, literally, from Antwerp. It has modern aluminium sails which could save 10 per cent to 20 per cent of fuel consumption.

Abu Dhabi-based Kinetic 7 is trying to solve the problems of pollution and lack of modern fuels for cooking in Africa and south Asia. Its solar-powered stove generates hydrogen using water and solar energy.

Meanwhile, the UK suffers from cold, damp homes, with a third of them not properly insulated or equipped with energy-saving devices. Shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband, whose party enjoys a strong lead in the polls before an election likely this year, told the International Energy Week conference in London that “becoming a top clean energy superpower will be one of the top priorities of a Labour government”. However, the Labour Party has cut its promise to spend £28 billion annually on green projects by about 75 per cent.

Updated: February 28, 2024, 4:49 AM
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