AEMO Suspends the Market

Below is the media release from AEMO after it suspended the National Electricity market at 14:05 today.

AEMO today announced that it has suspended the spot market in all regions of the National Electricity Market (NEM) from 14:05 AEST, under the National Electricity Rules (NER).

AEMO has taken this step because it has become impossible to continue operating the spot market while ensuring a secure and reliable supply of electricity for consumers in accordance with the NER.

The market operator will apply a pre-determined suspension pricing schedule for each NEM region. A compensation regime applies for eligible generators who bid into the market during suspension price periods.

In making the announcement AEMO CEO, Daniel Westerman, said the market operator was forced to direct five gigawatts of generation through direct interventions yesterday, and it was no longer possible to reliably operate the spot market or the power system this way.

“In the current situation suspending the market is the best way to ensure a reliable supply of electricity for Australian homes and businesses,” he said.

“The situation in recent days has posed challenges to the entire energy industry, and suspending the market would simplify operations during the significant outages across the energy supply chain.”

Edge wish to reiterate, this is not a physical supply issue. AEMO directed 5GWhs of physical generation into the market. If generators can operate when under direction, they do not have a physical reason to not generate (such as maintenance, overhaul etc), so the reduced availability we are seeing has to be a commercial trading decision to either price volume into higher price bands or to remove availability in the maximum availability bands of their bids. The availability is there, the generators are just not offering it via the spot market.

The market suspension is temporary, and will be reviewed daily for each NEM region. When conditions change, and AEMO is able to resume operating the market under normal rules, it will do so as soon as practical.

Mr Westerman said price caps coupled with significant unplanned outages and supply chain challenges for coal and gas, were leading to generators removing capacity from the market.

He said this was understandable, but with the high number of units that were out of service and the early onset of winter, the reliance on directions has made it impossible to continue normal operation.

The current energy challenge in eastern Australia is the result of several factors – across the interconnected gas and electricity markets. In recent weeks in the electricity market, we have seen:

  • A large number of generation units out of action for planned maintenance – a typical situation in the shoulder seasons.
  • Planned transmission outages.
  • Periods of low wind and solar output.
  • Around 3000 MW of coal fired generation out of action through unplanned events.
  • An early onset of winter – increasing demand for both electricity and gas.

“We are confident today’s actions will deliver the best outcomes for Australian consumers, and as we return to normal conditions, the market based system will once again deliver value to homes and businesses,” he said.

What does it mean for generators and end users.

  • Bidding and dispatch will continue as usual under the market rules.
  • Dispatch instructions will be issued electronically via the automatic generation control system as usual
  • If required AEMO may issue dispatch instructions in any other form that is practical in the circumstances.
  • Spot prices and FCAS prices in a suspended region continue to be set in accordance with NEM rules or under the Market Suspension Pricing Schedule.

The Market Suspension Pricing Schedule is published weekly by AEMO and contains prices 14 days ahead.

The market will continue to operate under the Market Suspension Pricing Schedule until the Market operator determines the market is able to return to normal conditions and the suspension is revoked.

Article by Alex Driscoll, Senior Manager – Markets, Trading, and Advisory

Drivers behind potential load shedding

In the energy market, probably not unlike most complex markets / industries, we never let the truth stand in the way of a good mainstream news story. So much so, at Edge we struggle to watch mainstream news!

Yesterday Edge highlighted that a tight supply balance was not the key driver for the unprecedented high prices occurring in the spot and contract markets.

As previously outlined, generators bidding behaviour is playing a pivotal role, lifting the average price in the spot market as their spot traders shift volume into higher price bands. This pushed spot prices so high that on Sunday the market reached the cumulative price threshold (CPT). This means that the sum of spot prices in a seven-day period hit a level which caused AEMO to intervene and cap prices until the market returns below this threshold.

As has been widely discussed on Sunday evening, AEMO stepped in and controlled the spot price once the sum of the previous 2,016 (7 days) trading intervals equalled the cumulative total of $1,359,000. The cumulative CPT is equivalent to an average price of $674.16/MWh for the seven-day period.

During market intervention, spot prices in the relevant region are capped at $300/MWh.  This commenced at 6.55pm on Sunday night in Queensland and will continue until the 7-day average drops below the CPT. Once this is achieved the CPT remains on foot until at least 04:00 the next trading day.

Since Queensland hit the cap on Sunday, we have now seen every mainland region in the National Electricity Market (NEM) also hit the CPT. As at publication, intervention pricing is currently enacted in all of these regions (QLD, NSW, VIC, and SA). Tasmania is currently under threat also.

During market intervention the maximum spot price can only reach $300/MWh (there is also a floor of -$300/MWh). $300/MWh is currently lower than the short run marginal cost (SRMC) of many gas generators when priced against the current gas price, which is also currently capped by AEMO (at $40/GJ).

A consequence of capping these markets is higher priced generation withdraws from the electricity market, as an example gas generator have a Short Run Marginal Cost (SRMC) of generation of roughly $400/MWh based on a fuel cost of $40/GJ, but with a cap of $300/MWh on the electricity generated it results in generators removing their availability from the market which in turn results in regional availability dropping. Hence subsequent threats of power outages and the potential requirement for load shedding.  It’s a case of the market being more under threat from commercial drivers than physical drivers.

The commercial dynamics of the current market create a perceived lack of availability in the market and leads to generators looking to other (non-capped) revenue streams for their generation stack. This is precisely what occurred over Monday with 607MW of availability being removed from QLD available generation, and 930MW removed from NSW. The drop in dispatchable generation resulted in AEMO publishing a Lack of Reserve (LOR) forecast and requests by AEMO for a market response. Rather than this call being answered, generators held firm and did not place generation back into the traditional bid stacks.  Across Monday the LOR dropped further as more generation disappeared into the ancillary market and as we approached the evening peak AEMO called an LOR3, which resulted in AEMO also calling on Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) providers to fill the availability gap.

Overnight AEMO’s action on calling RERT prevented load shedding, however this may not be the case in NSW tonight where 590MW of load is forecast to be interrupted at 19:00. If there is insufficient support under RERT to compensate for this supply shortage, we could see load shedding.

With all mainland NEM regions currently operating under the CPT we expect to see more market intervention, and those generators exposed to a capped gas price removing volume out of the market as electricity prices are capped at levels below their SRMC. This is likely to see AEMO needing to intervene in other regions, invoking RERT to source additional availability, or failing that load shedding.

Article by Alex Driscoll and Stacey Vacher.

What’s Oil got to do with it?

There is no doubt that energy markets and the energy industry itself are rapidly evolving and moving away from fossil fuels. The evolution of energy seems to be coming, and only coming faster given this tumultuous time the people and countries across the world have endured. Lets start with oil; Australian’s across the nation are very aware of the recent global oil price crash to new historic levels, particularly when it is reported in the news headlines that Australian’s are seeing almost 15-year lows at the petrol bowser. The impact of the recent oil price crash however does not stop at the bowser, it has and will continue to have significant impacts on energy markets across the globe including in Australia.

Oil prices have been hit recently due to two major events; one being the global epidemic of COVID-19, resulting in a significant reduction in demand for oil across the globe. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) April 2020 reports an expected drop in demand of global oil of 9.3 million barrels(mb)/day year on year for 2020, with April 2020 demand estimated to be lower than 2019’s demand by 29 mb/day. The second impact to oil markets has been the oil price and supply war between OPEC’s pseudo leader Saudia Arabia and non-OPEC nation, Russia, two of the largest global oil exporters. Saudi Arabia and Russia could not agree levels of supply, leading to Saudia Arabia flooding the market with oil and prices, both spot and futures, reaching new lows. The quarrel between the two global oil market power-houses and the impacts of the COVID-19 on demand for oil has led to the historical event where the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price index fell into negative price territory, with May 2020 future prices settling at -USD$37.63/barrel on the 20/04/2020, after reaching a low of -USD$40.32/barrel earlier that day.

The major oil index, WTI, saw futures prices for June 2020 contracts settling at around USD$17/barrel on the 29/04/2020, whilst Brent Crude, another major oil index also felt the pain of slowing demand, with prices dropping below USD$20/barrel on the 27/04/2020. But the impact of tumbling oil prices reaches far and wide, particularly here in Australia. Australia has a booming natural gas industry and was the largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG) as of January 2020. A significant number of gas sales agreements are linked to the crude oil indices, with Australian gas companies feeling the hurt given the tumble in oil prices. Brent Crude oil futures for June 2020 contracts settled at around USD$24/barrel on the 29/04/2020. At these prices, the likes of Santos and Oil Search will be hurting given both flagged a cashflow breakeven oil price of ~USD$25-29/barrel, and USD$32-33/barrel, respectively. Demand for natural gas in international markets has also tumbled, and due to the linkage between oil prices and gas contracts, spot contract prices have shifted down, with June 2020 contracts settling at AUD$2.87/GJ (~USD$1.88/GJ) as of the 30/04/2020, again a far reach from prices seen in November 2019 of ~AUD$7.30/GJ (~USD$5/GJ).

Further impacts of the oil market crash on gas markets has been cheaper domestic gas prices for consumers. Queensland, the largest gas extractor and exporter on the east coast has seen prices in its short-term trading market (STTM) in Brisbane reach as low as AUD$2.31/GJ in March 2020, a significant drop from AUD$9-11/GJ we witnessed the same in 2019. Other energy commodities have also seen a decline off the back of the oil price tumble, including thermal coal. As stated above, with gas prices domestically and internationally falling away, thermal coal prices have come off due to energy users opting for cheaper fuel sources such as oil and gas. Spot thermal coal contracts for the May 2020 settled at USD$52.35/metric ton(mt) on 30/04/2020, far softer than spot prices a year ago at ~USD$90/mt.

This brings us to the all-important energy market and commodity, electricity, which with all the above combined has seen electricity prices fall off a cliff. The National Electricity Market (NEM) in the last few years has been on a renewable power growth spurt. Queensland for instance has the highest penetration of large scale solar generation of approximately ~2,400 MW and a significant penetration of rooftop solar reaching ~2,100 MW, combine them together and on a mild April day in 2020, you have almost 2 thirds of maximum demand. With renewable energy displacing thermal/fossil fuels, off the back of reducing pricing for the technology and subsidies in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs), combined with both far cheaper gas prices allowing gas plant to bid in and capture price spikes due to their fast-start and intermittent operating capabilities, and reduced demand for electricity due to the impact of COVID-19 with business and industry operating skeletally, electricity prices continue to sit at prices not witnessed since 2016.

All the above has been caused by two events, both significant to the global economy, and the energy industry in their own rights. One thing is for sure, the events have helped push the electricity market on the East Coast of Australia into a new direction far quicker than it may have if the two COVID-19 and the oil price crash did not occur. We are seeing new market design concepts (ie. capacity markets, two-sided markets) and new contract market products (ie. super-peak swap) coming to light, that give way to new technologies and greater competition. The abundance of natural gas in Australia is affordable for households for heating and is finally being utilised as the ‘transition’ or bridging fuel it was always pegged as, to renewable energy in the wholesale market. One thing is for certain, change is afoot, and it definitely has me excited.

If you have any questions regarding this article or the electricity market in general, call Edge on 07 3905 9220 or 1800 334 336.

History making Oil price – what it means for Energy in Australia

Overnight the major oil price index, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude Oil Index fell from trading at USD$20.97/barrel to enter negative price territory for the first time in history, with May 2020 future prices settling at -USD$37.63/barrel on the 20/04/2020, after reaching a low of -USD$40.32/barrel. The event was sparked off the back of increasing storage concerns given excess supply build-up brought on by suppressed demand as a result of COVID-19. The recent announcement by OPEC + to cut demand by 9.7 million barrels a day in May and June months, and the additional 5 million barrels per day to be cut by other nations outside of OPEC and Russia, including the US, Canada and Brazil has done little to quash concerns of an oil supply glut with consultancy firm Rystad Energy estimating demand will be cut by 27 million barrels a day in April and 20 million into May as a result of COVID-19’s impact on global usage.

The market for WTI Crude Oil entered con-tango yesterday (20/04) with spot prices significantly lower than future prices for the commodity, however today (21/04) it has bounced back breaching positive price territory sitting above USD$1.00/barrel at 3:30pm (EST). Brent Crude Oil prices however remained relatively static on the 20/04, ending the day in the mid $USD20/barrel range at USD$26.04/barrel, despite the traditional correlation of trading between WTI and Brent Crude oil prices. So why is the oil price so important to Australia, well as Edge has previously pointed out in the past, a significant number of long-term gas deals are linked to an oil price index, likely Brent but also WTI. This has huge ramifications for Australia who became the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as of January 2020 this year, a commodity and industry which also contributes massively to the Australian economy.

With LNG sales effectively hitched to oil prices, I can only imagine what the contract price for some of the underpinning investment and long-term contracts of domestic and international gas looks like! We have witnessed that domestic gas prices across the NEM and international LNG Spot market prices have both taken a dive off the back of the recent oil price and supply war and the impacts to demand from COVID-19. Currently the ACCC has calculated LNG netback contract prices of gas to the Wallumbilla Hub (domestic gas hub connecting gas from QLD to southern states) at prices of AUD$3.73/GJ and AUD$3.60/GJ for April and May 2020, the cheapest price the commodity has been in the last 4 years, with future prices looking likely to hit $3/GJ. Currently the JKM (Japan Korea Marker) spot LNG market index for Asia – which is a significant demand hub for Australian spot LNG cargoes – is depicting prices of AUD$3.39/GJ for future contracts for June 2020 as of 20/04/202, however given the recent negative price event in international oil prices it is likely these future contract prices could fall further.

With LNG markers like the JKM heavily correlated to movement of oil prices it is likely we will not see a return to the AUD $8/GJ JKM Swap price for some time. The oil price slump is also expected to impact investment decisions, as once again the gas industry and heavily correlated to global oil prices. Majority of the domestic gas players including Oil Search and Senex Energy are gearing up for extended periods of reduced returns and cheaper gas prices due to a significant number of gas sales contracts linked to the Brent Crude oil index. Oil Search indicated to the market its break-even oil price range of USD$32-33/barrel, without funding growth projects, well above the current future oil contract prices; whist Senex Energy’s Chief, Ian Davies stated that “Demand has fallen off a cliff,” and that they were “planning for fairly soft prices for a while.” Even the likes of Santos flagged they are aiming for a free-cash flow break-even oil price of USD$25/barrel in 2020, however needs a price of USD$60/barrel to fund new growth projects, which could see the Narrabri project in jeopardy.

What is incredible to see is investment decisions like Arrow Energy’s Surat Gas Project still going ahead even when energy markets are entering unchartered territory. Arrow Energy’s joint owners, Shell and PetroChina have finally given the go ahead to the $10 billion development of Arrow’s vast gas resources located southern Queensland’s Surat basin, sanctioning the commencement of phase 1 of the Surat Gas Project on 17 April 2020. Arrow’s joint owners have decided to push forward with the expansion despite the recent downturn in oil and gas prices felt across the globe due in part to the COVID-19 outbreak and the recent oil price war. The Surat Gas Project is expected to bring on 90 billion cubic feet (~95 PJ) of gas a year, with 600 phase one wells set for construction this year with first gas expected in 2021, according to Arrow’s announcement.

The Surat Gas Project also comprises some big steps for the industry, with the deal underpinned by significant infrastructure collaborations and gas sales agreements which will see Arrow gas compressed and sent to market via Shell’s existing QGC infrastructure (including existing gas and water processing, treatment and transportation infrastructure). Good news for these gas volumes is that part will be allocated for sale into the domestic wholesale gas markets on Australia’s east coast, and part will be allocated to be converted to LNG via QCLNG’s liquified natural gas infrastructure located on Curtis Island, near Gladstone port. This is welcomed news with manufacturing firms across the east coast screaming for further domestic gas reserves to be developed in order to keep domestic gas prices at reasonable levels and increasingly de-linked from international LNG prices and indexes, such as the Japan Korea Marker (JKM).

In addition, it was also announced the Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest-backed LNG import terminal located at Port Kembla in NSW has been given the tick of approval by the NSW State Government. The Australian Industrial Energy venture which is co-backed by the Japanese firm Marubeni and global trading shop JERA in continuing forward with plans to build and operate the Port Kembla import terminal with a likely final investment decision expected later this year and first gas imports in 2022, with customers and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) reporting expected shortfalls of the commodity in regions such as Victoria and New South Wales could come as early as 2023, with shortfalls especially apparent into and beyond 2024.  

If you have any questions regarding this article or the electricity market in general, call Edge on 07 3905 9220 or 1800 334 336.

Oil cheaper than Coal!

We have all seen recently the impact that COVID-19 has had on global markets, in terms of stock prices, equity markets and of commodity markets.

Exacerbating this was the poor timing of Saudi Arabia and Russia’s spat over oil prices and both choosing to disagree on production levels, the disagreement lead to Saudi Arabia choosing to flood the oil markets with supply inevitably driving oil prices down significantly, with the WTI Crude Oil index reaching its lowest point in the last 5 plus years or so, trading in the low to mid $USD 20/barrel, also impacting the Brent Crude Oil index, which fell to its lowest point in the last 5 years or so to prices of the high $USD 20/barrel. Both events have lead to something quite astounding, with Bloomberg Green on the 23rd of March 2020 calculating that coal was officially the world’s most expensive fossil fuel.

Source: Bloomberg Green – Bloomberg 2020

This does not come as a huge surprise when the oil price has tanked off the back of a trade war between Saudi Araba and Russia, two of the largest producers of oil in the world. Additionally, international gas prices have also tanked with majority of long-term gas deals linked to an oil price index (likely Brent Crude) and the Japan Korea Marker – a major LNG (liquefied natural gas) index for Asia also falling with a supply glut due to reductions in demand from some of the largest demand centres such as China who went into a full lockdown earlier this year due to COVID-19.

According to Bloomberg calculations (Bloomberg 2020), the significant fall from grace in oil prices has meant that global crude benchmark is now priced below the Australian Newcastle coal index, which sat at $66.85 a metric ton on ICE Futures Europe on the 23/03, equivalent to $27.36 per barrel of oil with Brent futures that day ending at $26.98 per barrel.

If you have any questions regarding this article or the electricity market in general, call Edge on 07 3905 9220 or 1800 334 336.

Gas power stations for Victoria and Queensland

The federal government recently announced an agreement to underwrite new gas turbines in Victoria and Queensland to provide relief from expected high peak prices. The operation of these assets, below the usual short run marginal cost of current open cycle gas turbines (QLD – $106 / MWh – AEMO 2019) will potentially limit the likelihood of high prices or price volatility over the morning and evening peaks resulting in reduced average spot outcomes.

Under the new generation underwriting plan, which was proposed by the ACCC, the government will assure an amount of the electricity generated will be purchased for a set period into the future.

The Victorian generator will be located at Dandenong, south-east from Melbourne’s CBD and the Queensland asset will be located near Gatton, 90km west of Brisbane.

The 132MW Queensland generator is proposed by Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, while the 220MW Victorian asset is proposed by the APA group.

Mr Taylor (Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction) has previously said the government had been “hard-nosed” with these projects and each of them would have to prove commercially viable and benefit the jurisdiction in which they were going to operate.

Both projects are expected to commence construction next year once private sector finance has been secured.

If you would like to know more, please contact Edge on 07 3905 9220.

Gas Market Update

Nick Clark, Edge Energy Analyst

The Queensland State Government increased the petroleum royalty rate by 2.5% to 12.5% in the 2019/2020 budget, claiming that it will increase revenue by $467 million over the four years ending 2022/2023. The increase received condemnation from LNG producers and their investors. In the announcement, Queensland Treasury drew comparison to royalties in the USA and Canada. The resources sector at large has claimed that the higher tariffs put future investment and jobs at risk.

AGL announced during the week that it anticipates first gas to be delivered from its proposed LNG import terminal in the second half of FY22. Originally, AGL indicated that gas would be delivered during FY21, however it is understood that environmental requirements as set by the Victorian Government have caused delays. AGL announced that the floating storage vessel, Hoegh Esperanza would be utilised for the job. It is estimated that the LNG import terminal will be able to send between 80-100TJ/gas per day.

Hydrogen

The COAG Energy Council Hydrogen Working Group has released 9 issues papers which are to help develop the National Hydrogen Strategy. The nine papers released are:

  1. Hydrogen at scale
  2. Attracting hydrogen investment
  3. Developing a hydrogen export industry
  4. Guarantees of origin
  5. Understanding community concerns for safety and the environment
  6. Hydrogen in the gas network
  7. Hydrogen to support the electricity systems
  8. Hydrogen for transport
  9. Hydrogen for industrial users

The hydrogen strategy revolves around producing hydrogen from renewable energy sources to create “clean” hydrogen. Australia has recognised its competitive advantage in producing clean hydrogen due to the solar and wind (renewable electricity required in production of clean hydrogen) resources. The market for hydrogen is currently small relative to other energy sources such as gas and coal however with increasing appetite for low emissions fuel it is anticipated that this will grow. The potential size of the market is unknown. Unsurprisingly parties that stand to benefit from hydrogen becoming a more widely used fuel source anticipate huge growth whereas the more moderate are generally in a wait and see phase.

Currently cost of producing hydrogen remains high and makes the fuel uncompetitive as well as having no commercial scale shipping capacity. Hydrogen production costs for different technology options according to the International Energy Agency are summarised below:

Source: International Energy Agency. “The Future of Hydrogen, seizing today’s opportunities” June 2019 p.g. 52

It cannot be understated how substantial the task is to deliver on the COAG Energy Councils vision of Australia becoming a major clean hydrogen player. The table below provides a high-level timetable for actions to 2030 as prescribed by the COAG Energy Council.

Gas Powered Generation

Gas powered electricity generation has been, is, and will continue to be critical to ensuring reliable electricity supply in the NEM. Recently, gas has started to become displaced by new renewable generation in the NEM. Gas however remains critical at times of tight supply and demand balance. The graph below summarises the daily gas used for gas powered generation (Source Australian Energy Regulator) dating back to Q308.

Source: AER

On aggregate we can see that gas generation reached its minimum level since Q308 in Q418. This is primarily driven by new renewable generation in the form of wind and solar. Queensland gas demand has declined after Q414 on the back of Swanbank E mothballing. We also note the rise in SA which corresponds with the closure of Northern coal power station in SA. As the energy market continues to transition to intermittent renewable fuel sources and a 5-minute market, there is interest in adapting existing gas power stations to be able to respond more quickly.

Regional analysis

Brisbane

Gas prices in the Brisbane STTM were marginally higher in Q219 relative to Q218, averaging $8.72/GJ. There was no material change in volumes traded through the STTM.


(Source: AEMO)

Sydney

Sydney Q219 average STTM price was $9.79/GJ, which was $1.26/GJ higher than the Q218 average price. Prices during Q219 were highest at the beginning of the month.


(Source: AEMO)

Adelaide

Adelaide Q219 average STTM price was $10.45/GJ which was $2.29/GJ higher than the Q218 average price. Sustained higher prices as well as a spike during June contributed to the higher average price.

(Source: AEMO)

Victoria

Victoria Q219 average gas price was $9.54/GJ which was $1.36/GJ higher than the Q218 average price. Prices were higher earlier in the quarter then converged in May. In late June gas prices softened, potentially on the back of less demand from electricity generators due to high wind.

(Source: AEMO)

If you would like to know more about what is happening in the gas market and how your business may be affected, please call Edge on 07 3905 9220.

Accessing the STTM: Alternative gas supply

Stacey Vacher, Managing Director

Nick Clark, Energy Analyst

For a growing number of large energy consumers, consideration is turning to whether entering standard vanilla retail gas agreements deliver the most effective outcome. For consumers who are located within the bounds of the Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide Short Term Trading Market (STTM) markets, many may not be aware that there is an alternative way to purchase gas. Below, we consider how the STTM works and what the benefits are of exploring this option.


 

What is the STTM

The STTM is essentially a market for the trading of natural gas at a wholesale level at defined hubs between pipelines and distribution systems. The STTM is a day-ahead gas market operated by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) with hubs located in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. This means that gas is traded a day ahead of the actual gas day. The market settles daily with “shippers” delivering gas and “users” consuming gas. An organisation may sell gas as a shipper and purchase gas as a user through the same STTM, however, it would do so at the daily market price.

Source: “Overview of the STTM for Natural Gas”, AEMO, page 1

Market participants are incentivised to ship and consume volumes of gas nominated through a pricing mechanism, which aims to keep the gas supply system balanced. Organisations are able to sell excess gas to its requirements on the open market the next day, as well as bid to purchase extra gas as and when required. This system allows participants more flexibility and choice in purchasing gas supplies. Furthermore, the STTM’s price transparency ensures that the price set by the market daily truly reflects the current supply and demand situation.

Each of the STTM hub settles independently of the other, however each hub operates under the same rules outlined by AEMO.

For further operational details of the STTM, AEMO has provided an “Overview of the STTM for Natural Gas” (Link: https://www.aemo.com.au/media/Files/Other/STTM/1130-0679%20pdf.pdf).

Benefits of participating in the STTM

There are a range of drivers for some large gas consumers transitioning to purchasing and selling gas in the STTM. The main reasons are:

  • The STTM is an historically lower commodity cost;
  • Consumers can manage or avoid penalties under daily, monthly, and / or annual take or pay positions;
  • There is increased flexibility for both sellers and consumers; and
  • There are no long-term commitments.

These benefits can materially lower the cost of consuming gas. Depending on the nature of the organisation, there are a range of structures to access an STTM. Each structure requires varying levels of engagement from the consumer.

Engagement with Edge

To assist in transitioning your organisation to accessing the STTM, Edge are able to offer the following services:

  • Daily nominations and trading;
  • Monthly reconciliation;
  • Facilitation of short and long-term Gas Supply Agreements; and
  • Managing the STTM application.

Entering the STTM market is strategic decision for most organisations and can take anywhere between 3-12 months to transition. If you would like to know more, please contact us to understand if accessing the STTM market is the right decision for your organisation.

We note that there are also alternatives for consumers who are not within the STTM limits, however these options are not discussed for the purposes of this article. If you would like further information on your options, please contact your Manager Wholesale Clients or Edge on (07) 3905 9220.

Gas Market Update

Nick Clark, Edge Energy Analyst

Capacity Trading

As of 1 March, the new Capacity Trading Platform (CTP) and Day Ahead Auction (DAA) came online. This market arose after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council agreed to implement the legal and regulatory framework required to give effect to the capacity trading reform package, as recommended by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) as part of its Easter Australian Wholesale Gas Market and Pipelines Framework Review.

The reforms apply to the operators of transmission pipelines and compression facilities operating under the contract carriage model (collectively referred to as “transportation services”). The objective of the reforms is to encourage and facilitate trading of unutilised capacity on non-exempt transportation facilities. This is achieved by providing shippers with an incentive to trade spare capacity on a secondary capacity market (the CTP). If a shipper fails to sell any spare capacity prior to the nomination cut-off time, then its contracted but unnominated (CBU) capacity is then offered to other participants in an auction conducted a day ahead of the gas day (the DAA). In contrast to trades conducted by shippers prior to nomination cut-off time, the proceeds from the auction are retained by the service provider, which incentivises shippers to sell their spare capacity ahead of nomination cut-off time. (AEMO, Pipeline Capacity Trading: Overview, 2018).

According to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in the first two weeks of the DAA, 1.87 PJ of capacity was bought across multiple pipelines and compressors (Australian Energy Regulator, Gas Market Report, March 2019).

C&I Gas pricing

C&I gas contracts continues to be an opaque market. Contract prices have softened since the peak in 2016, however remain high and continue to put businesses under strain who are challenged with either absorbing higher costs or passing these onto customers.

AEMO recently released their Gas Statement Of Opportunity which reinforced the situation that domestic gas supply and demand balance is tight. AEMO highlighted that:

Supply from existing and committed gas developments is forecast to provide adequate supply to meet gas demands until 2023. However, risks remain that any weather-driven variances in consumption or electricity market activity could increase gas demand, creating potential peak-day shortages as outlined in AEMO’s 2019 Victorian Gas Planning Report”.

Weather driven variances in consumption were observed in late January this year when the Cumulative Price Threshold was met and the Administered Price was activated VIC and SA. This highlight from AEMO is generally concerning as it suggests that there is unlikely to be any reprieve in gas prices in the near to medium term.

Recently, pricing for C&I customers has been observed between $11.00/GJ and $14.00/GJ subject to terms and conditions. Customers are increasingly looking at taking on more responsibility for their consumption in an effort to bring down the commodity price.

Gas Powered Generation

Gas powered generation in Q119 was 4% higher than Q118 with less generation from hydro, black coal and brown coal. There was a material increase in generation from solar and wind resources which was to be expected.

Average prices in the STTM hubs and the VIC gas market all increased in Q119 relative to Q118. Volumes were lower in the STTM markets, whereas the volumes increased through the VIC market. Gas fired generation in VIC averaged 75TJ/day in Q119, which was 23TJ/day higher than Q118. Less generation from brown coal and hydro generators was the primary driver behind this.

Regional analysis

Brisbane

Brisbane STTM gas prices were higher in Q119 relative to Q118. Prices were consistently higher and generally followed a similar pricing trend. Volumes exchanged through the STTM were marginally higher in Q118 relative to Q119.


Sydney

Sydney STTM gas prices were higher in Q119 relative to Q118 with a divergence in prices in the final week of the month. Volumes exchanged through the STTM were very marginally higher in Q118 relative to Q119.


Adelaide

Adelaide STTM gas prices were higher in Q119 relative to Q118. Q119 prices were consistently above that of Q118, with the exception of a few days at the beginning of February. Volumes exchanged through the STTM were very marginally higher in Q118 relative to Q119.


Victoria

VIC gas prices were higher in Q119 relative to Q118 with prices diverging in the final weeks of the quarter. Unlike the STTM markets, there was more volume traded through the VIC market in Q119 relative to that of Q118. On the 24th and 25th of January, there was a spike in gas volumes which was driven by higher demand from the Gas Powered Generators as a result of very high electricity prices.

If you would like to know more about what is happening in the gas market and how your business may be affected, please call Edge on 07 3905 9220.

CleanCo Moving Ahead – Part 2

With expectations that CleanCo will be trading in the NEM by mid this year, things are getting into full swing. Last week CleanCo appointed its first two key executives – Miles George and Geoff Dutaillis.

Who are these new executives?

Miles George has been appointed the Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at CleanCo. His role at CleanCo is to secure cleaner, more affordable, sustainable energy and secure supply of electricity for Queensland (QLD). He was previously the CEO and Managing Director of Infigen Energy. After leaving Infigen Energy in 2016, Miles continued as a strategic adviser until December 2017. During and after his time at Infigen, Miles has been the Chairman of the Clean Energy Council, a representative on the AEMC Reliability panel, an Expert panel member for AEMO and Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Geoff Dutaillis has been appointed the General Manager of Transition. Geoff was most recently the CEO (Australia) of Wind Energy Holdings, a leading renewable energy company based in Thailand. The company has interest in various Australian wind farms. Geoff has also held executive positions at Infigen Energy as Chief Operating Officer (COO) from 2009 until 2013 and Lendlease more recently as Head of Sustainability.

 What is the mandate for CleanCo?

CleanCo has the mandate to increase competition in the electricity market at peak times of demand when prices are generally at their highest. CleanCo is expected to transform intermittent renewable generation into firm financial products for customers and retailers while backing QLD’s renewable energy and low emissions generators.

 Which of the existing generators are to be transferred from the current government owned corporations; Stanwell and CS Energy?

Initially, CleanCo’s portfolio will include a range of existing renewable and low emission energy generation assets including:

  1. Wivenhoe pump storage hydro plant,
  2. Swanbank E gas-fired power station, and
  3. Barron Gorge, Kareeya and Koombooloomba hydro power stations.

If you have any questions regarding CleanCo or any other matter relating to energy, please contact Edge Energy Services on 07 3905 9220 or 1800 334 336.