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SGRI 2016 Conference: My reflections on natural gas innovation and sustainability in Brazil

Dr Julia Sachs, a Research Associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute shares some insights from this year’s Sustainable Gas Research and Innovation 2016 conference.Conference logo

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual conference in natural gas sustainability and innovation, which took place in São Paulo, Brazil. One of the main aims of the conference, co-organised by the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) and Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), was to bring together international stakeholders from academia and industry, and to explore the role of natural gas in the global energy landscape and a low carbon world.

Deep offshore wave generator tank

São Paulo was an excellent location for the conference as it’s a key industrial hub in Brazil, and also responsible for 10.7% of Brazilian GDP.

Before the conference, we had the opportunity to tour around the University of São Paulo (USP) campus (where RCGI is based) and find out more about the research taking place at our sister institute, in the Laboratories of the Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments.

It was really impressive to see the numerous experimental setups and how theoretical research was directly brought into practice. The highlight for me was the virtual reality simulator used for guiding boats into ports and also the deep offshore wave generator tank which serves as model for testing the durability of design for ships, renewable energy devices and offshore structures.

For the Olympics, the tank had even been programmed to generate an image of the Brazilian flag. You can see the video in this tweet.

The two day conference started with the directors from the co-hosting organisations, Prof  Nigel Brandon (SGI) and Prof Julio Meneghini (RCGI) introducing the keynote speakers, Dr Rob Littel (General Manager Gas Separation from Royal Dutch Shell) and Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz (Scientific Director from FAPESP, the São Paulo Research Foundation).

RCGI / Conference 2016 - São Paulo - Sustainable Gas Research & Inovation Conference 2016, no Hotel Mercure. Rob Littel,General Manager Gas Separation, Shell Foto:Luiz Prado / LUZ
Dr Rob littel from Royal Dutch Shell

Dr Rob Littel emphasised the current challenges faced by the industry; CO2 regulations, a lower oil price, and rising energy demand which will require a diverse energy landscape and a combination of fossil fuels and renewables as well as new innovations. Dr Littel described two promising separation technologies; the next-generation post combustion capture of CO2 potentially using solid sorbents and carbon molecular sieve membranes for natural gas separation to achieve a reduction of the amount of space required and up to 60% cost savings.

He also emphasised the need for a strong collaboration between universities and industry to successfully face these challenges, and that the role universities such as Imperial College and University of  São Paulo (USP) will play in identifying the most promising technology pathways.

RCGI / Conference 2016 - São Paulo - Sustainable Gas Research & Inovation Conference 2016, no Hotel Mercure. Carlos Brito, FAPESP. Foto:Luiz Prado / LUZ
Prof Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz from FAPESP

The second keynote was Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, who emphasised the role of Brazil in meeting these challenges, in particular São Paulo as an unique city/state with significant economic, research and academic importance.

In Brazil, nearly half (47%) of power is from renewables such as biofuels. He also mentioned how Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of ethanol fuel which uses an exclusive blend of ethanol and gasoline to run light vehicles. The question is how to integrate renewables with natural gas.

While travelling around São Paulo, we were aware of one of the major problems facing the city. Huge traffic jam build ups to 100km long are common. Prof. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz mentioned this congestion issue, and the resulting high CO2 emissions which requires technological innovations.

The core of the conference consisted of a series of talks about ongoing projects of the RCGI and SGI covering a wide range of topics in areas such as engineering, physics, chemistry, modelling, economics, policy, and energy efficiency all under the linked to drive the wider research field of sustainable gas innovations.

In total, RCGI has 29 projects in different phases of a technology’s life cycle.

As a member of the Energy System Modelling team, it was of particular interest to me to identify how energy models that could be applied to the different projects.

In particular, Energy Systems Models such as those being developed at SGI (MUSE) will play an increasingly influential role to identify trends in the energy market, the effects of policy regulations and the requirements needed and necessary actions to meet different environmental and economic objectives.

A diagram of the MUSE model

MUSE is designed to generate plausible transitions of energy systems towards a low carbon economy with a specific focus on the role of gas in delivering a more sustainable future.

One of the highlights of the conference was the panel discussion “An international perspective: Innovation in natural gas”. The list of speakers included global experts from academia, government and industry to discuss the opportunities and challenges with natural gas as well as to give a perspective about the innovation technologies that might be required.

RCGI / Conference 2016 - São Paulo - Sustainable Gas Research & Inovation Conference 2016, no Hotel Mercure. Prof. Jim Watson. Foto:Luiz Prado / LUZ
Dr Jim Watson and the panel

Some key points were highlighted during the discussion:

  • Natural gas needs to be considered as an isolated solution but as part of the global energy mix.
  • New technologies (e.g. CCS) are needed to enable an efficient use of natural gas to meet the agreements of the COP-21
Credit: The Economist

Although, there exists some common points about the future of natural gas across the world, the problems individual countries face and the role of natural gas is surprisingly different. For example, in the UK, the national gas consumption is already declining. While, in contrast, natural gas presents a promising solution to limit emissions in coal dominated markets such as China.

Research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) generally shows that natural gas is likely to play a crucial role in two main areas: in the transport and the power sectors. In particular, there is a trend for the use to substitute coal in the OECD counties and as an addition to the energy mix in non-OECD regions to meet the rising energy demand while simultaneously limit emissions. The US has a large amount of natural gas as ethane resources which raises the problem of how to cost efficiently export natural gas and also how best to use the ethane.

One of the take home messages for me was that there are different drivers in different parts of the world based on the availability of gas, the accessibility, the price and in particular the existing energy mix but all aim to limit emission and require innovations to reach these goals.

Julia is a Research Associate working on the MUSE energy systems model at the Sustainable Gas Institute.

The next Sustainable Gas Research Innovation conference will take place on September 17th and 18th in 2017. Please email for further information. 


4 things you should know about World’s Energy Outlook Post COP21

A blog from an event organised by the Grantham Institute and Energy Futures Lab– Imperial College London.

On Friday 26th February 2016, Kamel Ben Naceur, Director for Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks at the International Energy Agency (IEA), came to Imperial College London and presented the main findings of the latest edition of the IEA’s flagship publication, the World Energy Outlook 2015.

1.The world’s energy scene is changing.

1 IEA2015 has seen a reduction of price for all fossil fuels and further reduction of investment in upstream oil and gas (24% reduction).
In the balance between supply and demand of oil worldwide, the demand is currently lower than the supply however they should meet again in late 2017. Oil production is expected to grow up to 14 million barrels a day by 2040, with a heavier international reliance on Iraq and the Middle East. In the US power generation sector, coal share has moved from 48.2% (2008) to 33.33% (2016) and its price is expected to remain stable up to 2020. Gas share has instead increased (from 21.4% in 2008 to 32.3% in 2016). At the same time, renewable sources have seen the highest annual addition in 2014 (about 130 GW) and their power capacity is expected to rise by 40% in the timeframe 2014-2020. One of the consequence of all these changes is that global emissions did not rise in 2014.

  2. The green transition is already happening2 IEA

Along with all the changes taking place in the energy market in the past few years, the Paris agreement signed last December represents a milestone towards the decarbonisation of the energy sector. The price of green technologies (land-based wind, distributed PV, utility-scale PV, batteries and LEDs) is decreasing and this trend will continue up to 2040, especially for efficient lighting and solar PV.

3 IEA3. The IEA’s Bridge Scenario can help reduce carbon emissions, and international cooperation is the key

The policy pillars of the IEA Bridge Scenario include increased energy efficiency, reduced least-efficient coal power, raised renewable investments, reformed fossil-fuel subsidies and reduced upstream methane emissions. Implementing these five actions internationally can help meet the Paris agreement targets.

4. The “well below 2⁰C“ target suggested during COP-21 represents a major challenge

The Paris agreement suggests an ambitious target of “well below 2⁰C”. This target is therefore more stringent tha5 IEAn what was previously suggested in the 2D scenario of IEA. However moving the climate change target from 2⁰C to 1.5⁰C represents a major challenge for the global energy system. This new more stringent target is asking us to take actions in the next 6 to 17 years in order to be met.

For more details on the latest IEA World Energy Outlook, you can take a look at the executive summary.

The slides have been kindly provided by the Grantham Institute – Imperial College London.


Natural Gas: What role can it play in the UK in future?

newseventsimagesJoin us for this seminar hosted by the Sustainable Gas Institute which will explore potential future pathways for the sourcing and use of natural gas.

Date:    18 Feb 2016
Time:    12:00 – 13:00
Venue:    Department of Chemical Engineering, Lecture Theatre 3 (RODH 333)
Event type:    Seminar
Audience:    Open to all
Ticket:    Drop in

Claire Carter (@clairecarter68) a PhD student at SPRU, University of Sussex and member of the Sussex Energy Group last year completed a research scholarship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. The research output “Future of Natural Gas in the UK” POSTnote was published in November 2015. This briefing considers potential future pathways for the sourcing and use of natural gas in the UK. Claire will be visiting to present her research at the seminar. 

The POSTnote can be found online:

Lecture theatre can be found by following this link.

Follow tweets with #impsgi or @SGI_London

For more information, visit the Imperial College website.

BLOG: Building better energy systems models in the run up to COP-21

Dr Daniel Crow is a Research Associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute. Daniel’s research is focussed on the mathematical treatment of whole systems approaches to energy modelling.

The good and the great of the international Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) community assembled in Potsdam in November for the 8th annual meeting of the IAM consortium.  I’m used to attending conferences in slightly off-the-beaten-track places (due, perhaps, to a supposition that relative isolation leads to fewer distractions and a more focused delegation), and this one proved no except2617353101_0986a1be9e_oion.  Perched on the edge of the Spree, in deep forest, our conference hotel was accessible only by foot along an empty track lit by arching, lonely sodium lamps.  A wild boar squealed at me on the first night.  It all looked a bit DDR.

Academic matters, however, felt decidedly 21st Century.  Main themes included a review of the state-of-the-art in IAM and an evaluation of the potential contributions that Integrated Assessment Models could make in the future.  Such models typically integrate the knowledge and methods of different academic disciplines (such as Engineering, Physics and Computer Science) to study complex problems at the nexus of the social, economic, environmental and political sciences, such as Climate Change.

Einstein’s Tower

There was much talk of the effictiveness, or not, of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as a sensible route to implement climate action.  Miles Perry (European Commission) pointed out the need for a more “cross-border” approach to emissions targets and, in the run-up to the United Nations COP-21 meeting in Paris, expressed the Commission’s desire to “deliver a robust international agreement” and set “fair and ambitious targets for all countries based on evolving global economic and national circumstances”.

Roberto Schaeffer (COPPE) questioned the “watered-down” tone of the EU’s statement, as well as the continuing focus on mitigation rather than adaptation and resilience.  Schaeffer also pointed out that IAMs typically characterise climate mitigation in terms of costs above a business-as-usual scenario, misleadingly failing to include the (potentially much greater) costs of the fall-out from Climate Change: the costs of doing nothing.  Perhaps we should all be including an explicit “climate cost” in our objective functions.

The most interesting talks for me were those on uncertainty and the use of IAM projections. James Price (UCL) described a way to explore different future energy scenarios by IAMs_draw_smaller-1024x730relaxing the requirement that the model (in this case UCL-TIAM) minimise the total cost.  Most normative models calculate the cheapest way in which a climate constraint (such as a less-than-2°C rise by the year 2100) could be achieved.  They show us “idealised” transition pathways that are rarely followed in messy reality.  Price’s talk explained how to build up a more realistic picture of future energy systems by exploring “maximally different” scenarios, each of which keeps the total cost low without formally minimising it.

Such “wiggle-room” might be a way to capture the uncertainties associated with brute optimization.  Although the model we are developing at Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), MUSE, does not rely on minimising system costs, we might yet pursue some of these ideas as a way to improve the plausibility and robustness of MUSE outputs.

6a00e5500b4a64883301b7c7d850c5970bI was struck also by Evelina Trutnevyte’s (ETH) talk on the “impossible mission of embracing parametric and structural uncertainties”. Trutnevyte retro-modelled the UK power system transition between 1990 and 2010 using the bottom-up D-Expanse model and compared her results with what actually happened.  Total system costs were around 17% higher than those corresponding to the optimal transition pathway, leading to significantly different transition implications for technology deployment.  With a front-row perspective on all the myriad uncertainties that go into an Energy Systems Model, I found myself thinking that missing the mark by only 17% was actually rather impressive.

The meeting ended with a discussion on future perspectives and opportunities for Integrated Assement Modelling.  As the political debate involving “who?”, “what?” and “when?” type questions reaches its climax at COP-21 in Paris, it seems evident that IAMs and Energy Systems Models will play an increasingly influential role in providing a more objective rationale behind internationally agreed actions on mitigation and adaptation.

Our models are emphatically not crystal balls to gaze into the future, but faster computers, more data and better methods should give us more and more confidence in the scenarios they produce, and allow us to quantify the uncertainty inherent in those scenarios.


To find out more about the energy systems model, Daniel and the SGI team are developing, please contact us at

BLOG: Building a cleaner natural gas supply chain

GasTech-560pxX300px-Twitter-LargeThe last few days in October saw the Gastech conference and exhibition carried out at the massive Singapore Expo. It was a large affair, with all the major gas companies discussing the most pressing issues for them, particularly emerging gas markets and the prospective rise of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Helge Lund, the CEO of BG group, gave a keynote speech to kick off the conference. He gave his view on the challenges of incorporating gas in a lower carbon world: both a carbon price and a commitment from the industry to reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions are vital.

It is indeed a challenge to incorporate a fossil fuel into a lower carbon world.  Natural gas is likely to play a crucial role on two fronts: reducing the dependency on the more carbon-intensive coal; and providing variable and peak electricity supply as a compliment to intermittent renewables. If we are going to carry on using gas for these services in the short and medium term, the environmental impacts must be minimised.

Our recent white paper at Sustainable Gas Institute published in September, assessed what we know about both methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain. The study found emissions to be highly variable, with some significant ‘hotspots’. Capture

In particular, very high methane emissions were found for liquids unloading processes, gas-driven pneumatic devices and compressors. For all of these sources, emissions were very variable and there are technologies and techniques that can minimise or even eliminate emissions. For example, gas-driven pneumatics could be replaced with instrument air drivers, compressors must be inspected regularly and dry-seals are much lower emitters than wet-seals for centrifugal compressors. The economic feasibility of these changes is likely to be variable but in many cases positive: i.e. a lower product loss more than pays for the increased capital or operating cost.

Another finding of the white paper on supply chain emissions was the appearance of ‘super emitters’ all across the supply chain.

Recent studies have found evidence of a small number of facilities or equipment that emit far more than the average, which significant skews the emissions distribution. These super emitters are likely to be due to the faulty or incorrect operation of equipment or ineffective inspection and maintenance procedures. Detecting the super emitters is the key challenge here, but once we do so, average emissions from the supply chain would be reduced significantly.

Paul Balcombe videoIn summary, no technological innovation is needed to reduce supply chain emissions significantly, only commitment to action from the gas industry. It is very promising to hear words of such commitment from world leading gas producers at Gastech and now is the time to act on this.

If you are interested in finding out more, please download the report, or a short summary note  or watch our short video.

To register for our monthly newsletter, email or follow us on twitter @SGI_london.

BLOG: Reducing the costs for Carbon Capture and Storage

12235378406_e25379dc47_o copyThis event blog was written by Sara Budinis, a research associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI). 

Last Thursday, I attended a thought-provoking event which covered the role for research and development (R&D) in delivering cost-competitive Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects in the UK in the 2020s.

This particular topic was of special interest to me as the SGI’s second White Paper (due to be published in the Spring of 2016) will review and discuss the costs of CCS when applied to power generation and industrial applications.

The workshop was arranged by KTN Knowledge Transfer Network together with the APGTF, CCSA, Coal Research Forum and UKCCSRC.

It explored the challenges associated with second and third generation CCS projects and how R&D could help to solve these challenges, reduce costs and support the development of a sustainable supply chain.

The cost of CCS is one of the main challenges to its development in the UK and worldwide. There is a variety of metrics to express CCS costs. The most common ones include the cost of carbon (£/CO2, which can be avoided, captured or abated carbon) and cost of electricity (£/MWh), which is used when you are dealing with CCS applied to power generation.

When delivering new technology, its cost decreases along a “learning curve”.  So, a First Of A Kind (FOAK) plant obviously involves a high economic risk. Exploring ways to reduce the capital and operating costs of CCS from the FOAK level to the NOAK (nth of a kind) level is of great interest for industry, government and academia.


Below are some highlights from the day:-

  • Luke Warren, from CCSA, highlighted the lack of an enabling policy framework as one of the main challenges to the development of CCS in the UK, which must move toward a low carbon economy. He commented on the need for a long term sensible energy policy. Because of the strong interest of the UK Government towards the consumers, CCS and carbon reduction in general must be cost effective and represent a good “value for money” as an investment for the future.
  • Jeremy Carey from UKCCSRC talked about the role of academics in the development of Carbon Capture and Storage and pointed at the importance of basic research at every stage. Moreover he believes that current technology rather the new technology must be involved in order to achieve concrete outcomes. This is because of the little time window between the present and 2020.
  • Andrew Green from Energy Technologies Institute: CCS is less expensive than other option for the reduction of CO2 emissions and moreover can be combined with biomass technologies in order to have negative carbon emissions. CCS must be applied to the power sector as well as to the industrial sector. He highlighted some key actions including the implementation of both Peterhead and Whiterose CCS projects, and the need for early investment in storage appraisal and further investments by 2020.

If you want to hear more updates from SGI or receive a copy of our next White Paper, sign up to our new bimonthly newsletter by emailing us at:

BLOG: Tackling methane’s contribution to climate change

A blog by Dr Paul Balcombe from the IPIECA-OGCI Workshop.

On Monday 12th October, I presented at a workshop in Paris which was focussed on understanding methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain. ItOGCI IPIECA was a conference organised by IPIECA and OGCI, who are both voluntary initiatives set up by major oil and gas producers to share knowledge on emissions reductions.

It was great to get a chance to present the work of the Sustainable Gas Institute on methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the supply chain to all these new faces: about 30 new perspectives from industry, as well as some from government, academia and NGOs.

The aim of the conference was really to pool together all of our knowledge on what we currently know about methane emissions from the natural gas industry. The idea is that we can identify the most important gaps in our knowledge that we need to fill and to discuss how we can start to do this.

Key headlines

One of the highlights of the conference was a talk by Prof Myles allenmylesAllen from the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. He delved into detail about the complicated issue of how potent methane is compared to carbon dioxide in terms of climate change. Methane is much more potent in the short term but doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere, so has a much lower lasting effect than CO2. Prof Allen says that, because of this, we need to make sure that we focus on both methane and CO2: if we don’t reduce CO2, we will never stabilise our greenhouse gas emissions; but if we don’t reduce methane, we will have a much larger global temperature when we do reach the peak.

Steve-Hamburg_D4B8294_287x377Another eye-opener was from a talk by Steve Hamburg, who heads up the work done by the Environmental Defense Fund on direct methane measurement all across the US. It was great to hear him talk so passionately about the massive task of emissions measurement and reduction. One of the take home messages Steve made was that reducing methane emissions is extremely important because this reduces the speed that we are warming the climate (whereas reducing CO2 reduces the overall temperature).

The key challenges that we summarised from the end of the first day were:

  • We need to increase methane emissions data collection. We have seen a big rise in data collection in the US which is great, but we need this to continue to other regions and more downstream emissions measurement.
  • It is clear that emissions are highly variable and it is vital that data represents the high distribution of emissions.
  • It is also vital that data is validated independently. Much work is going on by the industry to measure and in future publish emissions data, but Capturethe data must be validated so that transparency is maximised.
  • There is real potential to reduce emissions further and the technology is there. The key is to do this in as low cost as possible and to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to detect super emitters quickly.

If you are interested in finding out more about the subject, read our recent paper (or a short summary) on the challenge of methane and CO2 emissions in the natural gas supply chain.


Sasha’s work experience at the SGI

Sustinable Gas InstituteEvery year, the Sustainable Gas Institute offers a unique placement opportunities to students to come and work in the research Institute for the summer.

In July, Sasha Dorai, a third year geology student from Imperial College, helped us prepare the groundwork for a large systemic review around the issue of “unburnable carbon” – a topic that has gained increasing  interest among environmentalists, energy researchers, industry and investors over the last few years.

We interviewed Sasha about her career aspirations and about her work in investigating this highly debated issue.

What first captured your interest in studying geology?

What I like most about geology is that it involves the study of past, present and future landscapes. The subject also combines a broad range of scientific topics I’m interested in from hydrocarbons, minerals and other natural resources to tectonic activity and climate change.

How did you find out about the Institute, and what first sparked you interest in working here?

The Institute Director, Professor Nigel Brandon was my lecturer for one of my modules. He told us about the Institute, and the research being carried out.
Last summer, I had an internship with BP where I gained a broad insight into projects carried out in industry.  So this year, I really wanted to further this experience with something a little different by working on an academic research project instead.

So can you tell us a little more about the project?

I am currently assisting Sara Budinis, a research assistant at Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), with a systematic review of literature for a new and upcoming White Paper relating to a topic known as the ‘unburnable carbon’.

Can you explain what you mean by the ‘unburnable carbon’?

The world has a constrained greenhouse gas emissions budget to ensure that global average surface temperature does not rise more than 2⁰C.

So to stay within the global carbon budget there needs to be a significant reduction in the energy consumption. This is known as ‘unburnable carbon’ – reserves that cannot be combusted if the global carbon budget is not to be exceeded. In order to mitigate the effect of climate change, companies need to either reduce energy consumption or develop modern technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or other methods to store carbon in reservoirs and underground storage.

What exactly is a ‘White Paper’ and why do you think a systematic review is important right now on this topic?

A ‘White Paper’ discusses controversial topics and debated topics in science today, often providing recommendations to policy makers.

Although, there has been some research into the area of a ‘unburnable carbon’, so far there has not yet been a comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the all the evidence covering the full breadth of the subject area, especially in relation to how technology can have an influence. It’s also a relatively new concept and therefore needs further enquiry.

GeoscienceWhat did the research actually involve on a day-to-day basis?

The actual analysis involved me scrutinising important databases and search engines; academic journals published by institutions, industry and government websites.

The topics and terms, I was looking for included fossil fuels, unburnable fuels, reserves, the carbon budget, climate change and many more. My search covered technologies and methods including carbon capture and sequestration; a technology used to capture carbon dioxide emissions produced by the combustion of fossil fuels, electricity generation and other industrial processes.

I also looked at a lot of non-peer-reviewed grey literature from organisations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the United States Department of Energy as well as other government websites.

What do you think is the overall importance of this project?

The ‘White Paper’ explores economic aspects as well as focusing on scientific and technological aspects – the use and role of hydrocarbons.

The concept is important to science as well as society as we are in an era where we are currently heavily reliant upon hydrocarbons.

What have you enjoyed most about the research and working at the SGI?

The research was extremely interesting and I learnt a lot along the way. It was good to also experience working in a smaller organisation – everyone at the Institute was extremely warm and welcoming.

Working at the Sustainable Gas Institute has allowed me to also broaden my horizons and learn new things – including new technologies.

What do you plan to next year?

My plan this year is to start a Masters in Petroleum Geoscience, also at Imperial.

About the Sustainable Gas Institute

The Sustainable Gas Institute is a multidisciplinary institute which is exploring the role of gas in the future world energy mix. The SGI publishes papers relating to controversial issues and important topics in science including sustainable energy systems. The researchers expect to finish the ‘White Paper’ report in Spring 2016.


O tipo errado de clima

O preço do gás natural finalmente subiu após o surgimento da maior demanda dos últimos 11 meses, criada através de uma frente de clima ártico que cobriu o norte e centro-oeste dos EUA.

O armazenamento de gás natural está em alta, porém o mês de dezembro com temperaturas acima da média o manteve estocado. Os preços caíram quase 38% desde o meio de novembro, quando a produção doméstica ascendente coincidia com a fraca demanda e um início de inverno com temperaturas acima da média até a queda na semana passada.

A EIA atribuiu a baixa dos preços à demanda abaixo do esperado como também a produção aumentada de gás natural. “Os preços do gás natural caíram recentemente para a maior baixa dos últimos dois anos com o aumento da produção doméstica de gás natural reforçando os inventários de gás natural”, disse Adam Sieminski, administrador da EIA, em um comunicado de imprensa antes da extrema queda de temperatura em janeiro. Agora, se espera que os estoques de gás sejam reduzidos durante a segunda metade de janeiro e fevereiro.

Um novo mercado báltico de GNL

Em Riga no dia 14 de janeiro, a Estônia, Letônia e Lituânia assinaram uma declaração de confiabilidade de fornecimento de energia criando a base para a formação de um único mercado de gás na região e conectando os países bálticos com os sistemas de fornecimento de energia do oeste da Europa.

Os ministros dos três países se encontraram para assinar a chamada ‘Declaração de Segurança de Fornecimento de Energia dos Estados Bálticos’, que é vista como meio para integra-los ainda mais no mercado internacional europeu de energia.

“Assinar a Declaração de Segurança de Fornecimento de Energia marca o início de uma importante e irreversível mudança na nossa região em direção a mercados regionais de gás e eletricidade liberais, transparentes, competitivos e em perfeito funcionamento”, disse Rokas Masiulis, Ministro de Energia da República da Lituânia.

Mais de duas décadas após o fim da ocupação soviética e uma década após elas terem entrado na OTAN e a União Europeia, as repúblicas bálticas permaneceram desintegradas do resto da Europa em um aspecto crucial: as suas infraestruturas de gás natural as isolaram tornando as uma espécie de ‘ilhas energéticas’. Agora, pela primeira vez em suas histórias, a Estônia, Letônia e Lituânia têm a chance de assegurar as suas independências energéticas através da conexão das suas redes de gás natural com as dos seus aliados europeus e a transformação em sistemas de comércio com base no mercado.

Estes três pequenos países na periferia da EU estão agora preparados para ajudar a EU a alcançar dois importantes objetivos estratégicos: estabelecer um único mercado europeu de energia e enfraquecer o poder da Gazprom em relação ao gás europeu. Com a Croácia as vésperas de abrir uma pipeline de importação e um terminal de GNL na costa adriática, é provável que o domínio russo seja ainda mais reduzido.