Global biomethane market: green gas goes global

CEDIGAZ launches new report and database

 

The biomethane sector is booming worldwide. There will soon be more than 1,000 biomethane production plants operating in thirty-four countries, up from 720 at year-end 2017. Long centered in Europe, the green gas sector is indisputably going global.

Since 2010, world biomethane production has increased exponentially, reaching three billion cubic meters in 2017. In Europe, biomethane use is spreading across the continent.  There are now nineteen European producing countries, whose output totalled nearly 2 bcm in 2017. The United States is now world leader for the use of biomethane as vehicle fuel, further to its production surge of 2014-2017 and driven by federal and state regulations. The fact that China and India have recently adopted biogas upgrading technology promises to be a game changer. Both countries have set ambitious biomethane production targets and figure as huge emerging markets. In Central and South America, Brazil is taking regulatory steps to exploit its huge potential.

Despite a flurry of projects and rising interest among governments and industry players worldwide, data on this sector are comparatively scarce and sources of information – national, regional or sectoral – are highly dispersed. To fill this void, CEDIGAZ, the International Centre on Natural Gas Information, is launching a new report and database focused on global biomethane markets and production plants. These are valuable tools for policy makers, energy companies, equipment providers or any entity or individual following this rapidly expanding market.

Quarterly report – Oil and natural gas prices

  • Brent: between $60 and $80/b in 2019 (2018: $71/b)

The oil price oscillated between $50 and $86/b in 2018, averaging $71/b (+31% compared to 2017). The volatility observed in 2018 was due in large part to uncertainty about supply and economic growth, but also to the U.S. sanctions against Iran. Initially announced as being extremely severe, the embargo was softened at the last minute by the American president when he realized the likely consequences of a rise in the price of oil products.

For 2019, the average Brent price is expected to be in the $60 to 80/b range. These expectations account for different scenarios for factors such as economic growth, the Iran embargo, OPEC’s management of supply and U.S. production.

  • NBP: €19-23/MWh in 2019 (€23.3/MWh; $8.1/MBtu in 2018)

Based on forward prices and expected oil prices, the average UK NBP price for 2019 could fall between €19 and 23/MWh ($6.5-7.8/MBtu) compared to €23,3/MWh ($8.1/MBtu) in 2018, representing a potential decrease of between 1 and 18%.

The Impact of New Marine Emissions Regulations on the LNG Market

Changes to the IMO emissions standards will see the global sulphur limit in marine fuel reduced from 3.5% to 0.5% from 2020.

Marine fuel is a huge energy market which is currently dominated by oil products. However, tighter environmental regulations, particularly MARPOL Annex VI, are driving changes in fuel requirements, especially with regards to sulphur emissions, both in the Emission Control Areas (ECAs) around the coasts of North-West Europe and North America, but also globally, particularly as the 0.5% sulphur limit applies globally from January 2020 . LNG has opportunities in this sector as a low-sulphur fuel, although it also faces strong competition from low-sulphur oil products, sulphur scrubbing technology, and potentially from electric vessels. Currently there are known to be around 139 merchant vessels using LNG as a fuel, with a similar number on order. Whilst LNG-fuelled shipping has been slow to take off, it is now growing rapidly, particularly as supply infrastructure coverage has improved significantly in recent years. LNG is likely to become a fuel of choice for newbuilds in many sectors, whilst there may also be some LNG conversions.