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Unconventional Gas is Structurally Changing Global Gas Markets

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The growth of unconventional gas is spreading across the world with major implications over many years for markets and prices according to a new World Energy Council study ‘Unconventional gas, a global phenomenon’ which looks at where and how fast the revolution is taking place.

The study, developed with project partner Accenture Strategy, says that despite an uncertain price environment, the magnitude and speed of change is not only influencing the United States market, but also other markets including countries such as China, Argentina and Algeria which have similar potential as the U.S. in shale gas production. Also, countries such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Poland and Turkey are mentioned in the study as having significant potential for shale gas development.

Christoph Frei, Secretary General, World Energy Council, said: “Unconventional gas is causing a shift in the dynamics of the natural gas market which will be felt for many decades to come. Its spread around the world is being accelerated because it can make gas more affordable to consumers and reduce concerns about the security of supply.

“So far, the surprising resilience of the U.S. shale gas market has led the way in the shale gas boom, and whilst other countries may not have the unique characteristics of the U.S., they will learn how to become LNG producers or exporters which will change the global dynamics of energy.”

The study identifies three emerging global trends:

  • Shifting portfolio allocations: current price uncertainties are resulting in operators shifting their capital to more flexible, shorter-cycle investments rather than in deep well projects which is exemplified by the United States.
  • International growth of unconventional gas operators: new operators across the world are realising the global opportunities and bringing new supplies to the markets such as China, Australia and Argentina which will have an effect on markets before 2020.
  • Interconnected markets: excess supplies in some countries have led to price normalisation and other structural shifts that are making the market more global and transparent across the three main regional hubs of Asia, Europe and North America.Lower oil prices and weakened Asian demand has resulted in the virtual disappearance of the price spread between the Japanese LNG and UK markets in 2016. Additionally, U.S. prices remain depressed due to the continued build-up of domestic supplies.

In order to realise the full potential of the global gas phenomenon, the study goes on to highlight the need for certain decisive interventions to alleviate uncertainty in the market:

  • Industry: Bring a higher degree of focus to portfolio allocation, risk management, and efficiency and continue to seek new and innovative investment partnerships to deliver projects.
  • Policymakers: Establish policies that promote a liquid market and competition needed for security of supply and the formation of clear price signals.
  • Consumers: Evaluate the economic and environmental benefits of diversifying energy assets with natural gas in power, industry, transportation, and chemicals and consider innovative investment partnerships to secure supplies.

In addition, the study says that there are also society and environmental concerns which national oil companies are best placed to address and thereby puts them in a prime positon to take advantage of growth opportunities.

Christoph Frei said: “Already, the rapid growth in unconventional gas has significantly disrupted global trade flows. With concerns about affordability and security driving exploration into unconventional resources outside of North America, unconventional gas will continue to be a key factor in how the world energy market develops.

“In particular, continued growth in the U.S. and Australia will significantly influence the balance of supply and demand with Argentina, China and Saudi Arabia emerging as unconventional gas producers out to 2020-2025.”

Melissa Stark, managing director, Energy industry group, Accenture, and co-author of the report, added: “The report emphasises the smooth nature and optionality of the U.S. shale gas supply.  The U.S. LNG exports are very different from any supply we have seen before because this supply can come on-stream very quickly in response to market demand and prices. This LNG supply is driving fundamental changes and commercial innovation in the global LNG market.”

The rapid growth of unconventional gas is demonstrated by the U.S. – in December 2015 49% of its gas supplies came from unconventional gas and by 2019 it is predicted that U.S. LNG supplies will account for one fifth of global capacity and that the U.S. will be the third largest LNG exporter.

The study, which is the work of leading industry and academic experts from across the world who are part of the Council’s Natural Gas Knowledge Network, will be launched at the Africa Gas Forum during the Africa Energy Indaba on Monday 15 February.

‘Unconventional gas, a global phenomenon’ is one of 15 Knowledge Networks studies for the World Energy Resources flagship study which will be presented at the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2016.

For the full report see: https://www.worldenergy.org/publications/2016/unconventional-gas-a-global-phenomenon/

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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