Total SA set to prosper from Papua New Guinea gas changes
Oil Search says its stalled plan to expand gas output in Papua New Guinea will now focus on the Papua LNG project led by Total SA, in a change of direction following political ructions in the Oceania country.
France’s Total had previously pushed to work with Exxon to double LNG exports from the country via a twinned £9.8 billion expansion of Exxon’s PNG LNG plant, and development of Total’s Papua LNG project.
As a partner on both projects, Oil Search insists that they will only go ahead together by adding three new processing units, or trains, at the PNG LNG site.
The company operates all of Papua New Guinea’s producing oil fields, and holds a 29 percent stake in the producing PNG LNG project, while it is also pursuing major LNG growth opportunities in partnership with ExxonMobil and Total.
However, progress on the projects has been stalled by Prime Minister James Marape’s push for a bigger take for the country from Exxon’s side of the project – the development of the P’nyang gas field. Oil Search says it now sees Total’s Papua LNG progressing on its own, with two trains initially.
“There is significant interest from all parties to simplify LNG expansion in PNG and focus on Papua LNG 2 trains,” Oil Search CEO Keiran Wulff tells investors.
His comments come as Marape faces a threat to his leadership, with several members of his government switching to the opposition on November 20.
“Whilst PNG is certainly the land of the unexpected, recent events are worth following closely,” Wulff says. “Comments by Total, the PNG government and the PNG opposition are increasingly supportive of advancing the Papua LNG project.”
However, he points out that Papua LNG will need to test market demand before going ahead.
“We think there’s a strong increase in demand opening up in 2027” as big coal users such as Japan and South Korea seek to lower emissions, Wulff tells Reuters.
In order to meet that window, Papua LNG’s owners will need to reach a final investment decision in 2030, he adds.
Declining to comment on Oil Search’s remarks, Exxon says that talks with the Papua New Guinea government about the P’nyang gas project, which was to feed a third new train at PNG LNG, are ongoing.
In emailed comments, the company says that it is ‘hopeful that we can work towards an outcome that benefits all stakeholders’.
Wulff adds that Exxon’s PNG LNG plant has been producing at 26% above its nameplate capacity. As a result, it will soon need new sources of gas, which means that P’nyang might be tapped to supply the existing PNG LNG trains instead of a third unit.
Form Energy receives funding power for iron-air batteries
Form Energy believes it has cracked the conundrum of commercialising grid storage through iron-air batteries - and some of the biggest names in industry are backing its potential.
The startup recently announced the battery chemistry of its first commercial product and a $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT’s The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.
While solar and wind resources are the lowest marginal cost sources of electricity, the grid faces a challenge: how to manage the multi-day variability of renewable energy, even in periods of multi-day weather events, without sacrificing energy reliability or affordability.
Moreover, while Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, they run out of energy after just a few hours. Iron-air batteries, however, are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Wh/kg according to Renaissance of the iron-air battery (phys.org)
The active components of Form Energy's iron-air battery system are some of the cheapest, and most abundant materials: iron, water, and air. Iron-air batteries are the best solution to balance the multi-day variability of renewable energy due to their extremely low cost, safety, durability, and global scalability.
It claims its first commercial product is a rechargeable iron-air battery capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion and can be optimised to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants.
"This product is our first step to tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonisation: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation," it states.
Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said it conducted a broad review of available technologies and has reinvented the iron-air battery to optimise it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. "With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages," he said.
Form Energy and ArcelorMittal are working jointly on the development of iron materials which ArcelorMittal would non-exclusively supply for Form’s battery systems. Form Energy intends to source the iron domestically and manufacture the battery systems near where they will be sited. Form Energy’s first project is with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the heart of the American Iron Range.
Greg Ludkovsky, Global Head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal, believes Form Energy is at the leading edge of developments in the long-duration, grid-scale battery storage space. "The multi-day energy storage technology they have developed holds exciting potential to overcome the issue of intermittent supply of renewable energy."
Investors in Form Energy's November 2020 round included Energy Impact Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners III, and Temasek.
In May 2020, it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the US.
Last week Helena and Energy Vault announced a strategic partnership to identify additional opportunities for Energy Vault’s waste remediation technologies as the company begins deployment of its energy storage system worldwide. It received new investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) in June.
Maoneng has revealed more details of its proposed 240MWp / 480MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia (click here).
The BESS represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that will improve electricity grid reliability and network stability by drawing energy from the grid during off-peak periods for battery storage, and dispatching energy to the grid during peak periods.