As part of emergency steps to stop electricity outages, India is turning towards natural gas. Power plants running on imported coal will be expected to maximise output, as record power demand in August, and a sharp decline in hydro and wind energy output resulted in the country’s widest electricity shortage in 16 months. States are also advised to expedite commissioning of new renewable and thermal power plants. “Additional arrangement for gas, for running gas based stations, from GAIL with tenders for advanced procurement for generation has been planned, during upcoming high power demand months.”
India to increase imported coal blending to meet power demand
India plans to direct power generators to increase mandatory imported coal blending from 4% to at least 6% “in the wake of fast-depleting stocks at power plants”, the ET reports. Quoting officials the paper said the direction will be issued soon, because of higher electricity demand and “lower than anticipated wind and hydropower generation in some states”.
Meanwhile, India’s coal ministry has said that the country exported 1.16m tonnes of coal to neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan in 2022-23, ET reported. Oil imports from Russia in August jumped 114.19% compared to the previous year.
Jharkhand opposes Centre’s decision to amend Coal Bill
The state of Jharkhand has forwarded its objections to the Centre regarding the Coal Bearing Area (Acquisition and Development) Amendment Bill, 2023, which seeks to replace a 1957 law. The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April this year approved the Bill to facilitate the utilisation of land which are unsuitable for coal mining in order to increase investment and job opportunities in the coal sector. The letter written by the state mines and geology department stated that the amendments are “anti-development in nature” and could lead to problems. The 1957 law and subsequent amendments in 2021 say that any lease or its extension for mines in fifth schedule areas entail additional payment to the respective state. But the proposed amendment of lifetime lease would deprive the states of additional funds.
Questions arise over climate commitments as US oil production hits all-time high
The US Department of Energy reported this past fortnight that oil production in the United States in the first week of October hit a record 13.2 million barrels per day, surpassing the previous record set in 2020 by 100,000 barrels. According to AP, weekly domestic oil production has doubled from the first week in October 2012 to now. The newly set record, apparently contrary to the White House’s commitment to reduce emissions and transition to cleaner energy, has raised eyebrows. This week demand also grew for the US to cancel the construction of a $10 billion gas export hub in Louisiana, which has been called a “carbon mega bomb” by a former official of the US Environment Protection Agency.
Africa set to become a key supplier as natural gas demand continues to grow
War in Ukraine sent energy companies scrambling to find alternative supplies of oil and gas over the past year and half. Regional escalation of the conflict in Israel and Palestine could spur further disruptions. As energy markets continue to forecast turbulence, energy companies have set their sights on Africa as the next hotbed for supplies, particularly of natural gas, suggest market analysts Wood Mackenzie. Energy companies have invested some $800 billion in gas projects across Africa since 2010, with several projects beginning to come online across the continent. Next year, the Tortue floating LNG project off the coast of Senegal and Mauritania will add 2.4 million tons in annual production capacity to the global total, and will potentially pave the way for Africa to become a crucial source of new supply, especially to Europe.