Search

 

Cablegate: Natural Gas in South China (Part 1 of 2): Delayed Lng Plans

VZCZCXRO1439
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0418/01 0921033
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021033Z APR 07
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5940
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 GUANGZHOU 000418

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDOC FOR 4420/ITA/MAC/MCQUEEN
USDOC FOR 1003/ITA/OUS/OC
USDOC FOR 6310/ITA/TD/OIEM/KMURPHY/HBURROUGHS/KHOLLANDE R
USDOC FOR 6000/ITA/TD/RPACE
TRANSPORTATION FOR FEDERAL RAILWAY ADMINISTRATION/KROHN
USDOE FOR OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY - MOURAD
USDOE FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/DPUMPHREY/RSPRICE
USDOE FOR FOSSIL POLICY AND ENERGY/MSMITH/ADUCCA
USDOE FOR MSINGER/GRUDINS/JNAKANO
STATE FOR EAP/CM, EB/TRA, AND EB/ESC/IEC
STATE ALSO PASS USTR FOR CHINA OFFICE
USPACOM FOR FPA


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EPET ECON EMIN SENV CH
SUBJECT: Natural Gas in South China (Part 1 of 2): Delayed LNG Plans
Getting Back on Track

REF:

(U) THIS DOCUMENT IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED AND INCLUDES
BUSINESS SENSITIVE INFORMATION. IT SHOULD NOT BE DISSEMINATED
OUTSIDE OF U.S. GOVERNMENT CHANNELS OR IN ANY PUBLIC FORUM WITHOUT
THE WRITTEN CONCURRENCE OF THE ORIGINATOR. IT SHOULD NOT BE POSTED
ON THE INTERNET.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Recent progress in negotiations with Indonesia and
other LNG suppliers suggest that the Chinese government has adjusted
its expectations and renewed its interest in putting LNG projects
back into the energy mix in South China. The government's
unwillingness earlier to adjust negotiation strategies and conclude
supply contacts in response to higher prices and shifting market
conditions resulted in delays of most LNG projects. The Chinese
government still requires CNOOC to purchase a portion of the rights
to the fields from which it sources gas and this means that CNOOC
will continue to pursue oil and gas fields in places where many
major Western oil companies are unable to do business and in
locations where government-to-government influence can be better
used to the company's advantage. After years of planning
discussions and negotiations, on September 28, 2006, the Dapeng
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Shenzhen became the first
LNG terminal in China to start commercial operations. Although one
of at least 11 announced LNG projects spanning the coast of China,
only two other terminals, one in Fujian Province and one near
Shanghai, have broken ground. This is the first of two cables
looking at natural gas in South China. END SUMMARY.

LNG in South China, A Brief History
-----------------------------------

2. (U) After research in the early 1990s showed Guangdong Province's
electric power usage was going to exceed its capacity to generate,
provincial government discussions focused on ways to meet the rising
demand for energy. Early solutions focused on building nuclear
power plants and importing power from western provinces. However,
in 1994 proposals began to surface about ways to bring LNG into the
energy mix for the province.

3. (U) The following sequence of events is illustrative of the time
it takes to bring a project to the fore:
-- 1998: Guangdong Province won State Council approval for a pilot
LNG project to be located in Shenzhen.
-- 2001: British Petroleum was chosen as the foreign partner to work
with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) on the
project.
-- October 2002: a supply purchase agreement (SPA) was signed
between the Guangdong LNG project and Northwest Shelf Australia LNG
- a partnership which includes BHP Billiton, British Petroleum,
Chevron, Japan Australia LNG MIMI (A 50-50 joint venture between
Mitsubishi and Mitsui), Shell, and Woodside Energy - for supply.
-- Late 2003: Construction on the terminal began
-- May 2006: the Dapeng LNG Terminal received its first shipment of
LNG.
The terminal is currently the only operating LNG terminal in all of
China and capable of processing 3.75 million tons per year (MMt/y)
of LNG. An additional LNG terminal in Putian, Fujian, wholly owned
by CNOOC, is under construction and will be in operation by the end
of 2008.

For Dapeng, The Finances Work
-----------------------------

4. (U) Dapeng LNG negotiated its SPA in October 2002 at a time when
the LNG market favored buyers. Many countries had large offshore
discoveries and were seeking to finance development projects by
signing long-term SPAs. In the case of Dapeng, the Chinese
government received multiple supply offers and bidding became very

GUANGZHOU 00000418 002 OF 005


competitive. The deal that was ultimately signed with the Northwest
Shelf Australia LNG partnership was a 25-year take-or-pay contract
with a ceiling price linked to $25 per barrel of oil (BBL).
Correspondingly, Dapeng sold its entire supply to 11 customers: four
new gas-fired power plants, one plant that converted from oil to
gas, and six municipal local distribution companies (LDC) including
Hong Kong at the same 25-year take-or-pay terms with prices that
guaranteed supply and operating costs plus a profit.

5. (U) Given the seeming no-lose situation of Dapeng and government
support for a network of LNG terminals and pipelines up the coast,
CNOOC quickly tried to replicate its success in South China
announcing similar plants in Fujian, Zhejiang, and Shanghai as well
as a second Guangdong terminal in Zhuhai. In an effort not to lose
out on LNG entirely, the two other Chinese oil majors, Sinopec and
PetroChina, announced plans to open LNG terminals of their own.
PetroChina won initial government approval for terminals in Jiangsu,
Hebei, and Lioaning provinces and Sinopec for Shandong and Tianjin.
An eleventh project located in Guangxi province is also under
consideration. All projects initially announced first phase
capacities of between 2.5 and 3.5 MMt/y and with the exceptions of
the Liaoning, Tianjin, and Guangxi terminals, all were originally
Qcted to be in operation between 2008 and 2010. Additionally,
the second phases of the Dapeng and Fujian terminals, doubling their
initial size, were also announced for completion by 2010.

Slow to Adjust to Higher Prices
--------------------------------

6. (SBU) The Dapeng terminal was not the only project to win an
early supply purchase agreement. The Fujian terminal also secured a
25-year deal for 2.6 MMt/y from the Tangguh field in Indonesia at
what was originally to be a ceiling price of around $26/BBL. After
the terms were agreed to, world oil and gas prices rose
substantially and Indonesia sought to renegotiate the price of the
deal. This new uncertainty about supply caused CNOOC to delay
construction and has pushed back the opening of the terminal by 18
months. On March 16, a representative from the Indonesian Consulate
confirmed that CNOOC has agreed to a 50% price increase to $39/BBL
for the SPA and the terminal should get its first shipment in 2009.
With the exception of the CNOOC Shanghai terminal, none of the rest
of the initially announced terminals has signed an SPA and all will
be delayed indefinitely until LNG supply is secured.

7. (SBU) After successfully reaching the first two agreements which
included price ceilings and sub-market prices, the Chinese
government instructed CNOOC to sign future deals only at the same
terms. When prices quickly rose and LNG supply began to tighten in
the Pacific, buyers from Japan, Korea, and the United States reacted
much faster to the changing conditions. With sellers now in control
of the market, ceiling prices have been replaced in deals with
escalator clauses and prices for long-term SPA do not carry the
discount they had in the past. CNOOC could not agree to such terms
and in places like the Australian Northwest Shelf, where CNOOC hoped
to also supply Dapeng Phase II from, all new production was sold to
other parties. Fields in Australia will not likely be able to
accommodate any new SPAs until 2012 at the earliest.

Customer Mix Not Optimal
------------------------

8. (SBU) The Chinese response to higher gas prices is due to a
distorted mix of customers. According to Mr. Thomas King, President
of Guangdong Dapeng LNG Company, 64% of the Dapeng terminal's gas is
going to power producers. Even with contract prices capped at
$25/bbl, the power generated from LNG fired plants is between two
and three times the cost of power generated from domestic coal fired
plants. Mr. Shi Enzhe, General Manager of CNOOC Gas and Power,
confirmed that the Fujian LNG terminal will supply 70% of its LNG to

GUANGZHOU 00000418 003 OF 005


power plants as well. Moreover, all but one of the power plants
supplied by the two LNG terminals are newly built. Only one, the
Meishi power plant in Shenzhen, is being converted from heavy fuel
oil to LNG.

9. (SBU) Due to the over-weighted proportion oQer generators as
purchasers, a move in gas prices from under $4 per million British
thermal units (MMBtu) to approximately $6/MMBtu, as has recently
occurred with the renegotiated SPA for the Fujian terminal, has had
a drastic effect on the economic viability of projects without
government financial support. Mr. King stated an ideal customer mix
for Dapeng would be 33% power generators, 33% industrial and
commercial customers, and 33% residential customers. A heavier
weighting of industrial and residential customers makes LNG projects
feasible at far higher prices because the fuels these users
substitute are propane, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), heavy fuel
oil, and diesel, all of which have prices closely correlated to the
market price of oil as opposed to cheap domestic coal.

10. (SBU) Both Mr. Shi and Mr. King commented that industrial and
commercial users' desired adoption rate is faster than Dapeng can
currently handle. Due to supply issues, Dapeng is currently
operating at only 30% capacity and much of the current supply is
taken by the power customers and Hong Kong. There is a waiting list
for industrial users to convert to LNG and hook up to Dapeng. The
wait is further compounded because the six municipal LDCs supplied
by Dapeng must work with the city governments to convert and expand
the existing gas distribution systems. The cost of conversion for
industrial customers must be paid for by the customer. The average
conversion project so far has cost 200,000 RMB ($25,873 USD). Since
Dapeng's LNG price is a 30% discount from current LPG or fuel oil
prices, the average payback for conversion projects has been just
three months time.

11. (SBU) For residential customers, the wait may be longer. Mr.
Yan, Junfang of the Shenzhen Municipal Development and Reform Bureau
said that Shenzhen has currently converted 130,000 homes to LNG.
Mr. Wu Hong, Deputy Director of the Guangzhou Municipal Development
and Reform Commission, stated that Guangzhou has only converted
40,000 homes but should complete 200,000 more homes this year and
finish converting the cities entire network by the end of 2008. In
the majority of these conversions, lines for LPG already existed
that were capable of supplying LNG as well. The LDC and government
pay the cost to install one new LNG stove and water heater for each
residence.
As few new gas lines are being built, the reach of LNG in both
cities will likely top out at less than 10% of the total
population.

Recent Trends Suggest LNG an Option Again
-----------------------------------------

12. (SBU) While CNOOC and Dapeng representatives were very reticent
to discuss pricing issues, Professor Zeng Lemin from the Guangdong
Techno-economy Research and Development Center, a government think
tank associated with the Guangdong Department of Science, spoke
openly about pricing issues. Mr. Zeng is Chief of the Institute for
Energy and has consulted on many LNG project feasibility studies.
Zeng estimated the price to Dapeng at 0.8 RMB/cubic meter ($3
USD/MMBtu). Representatives from Meishi power plant confirmed they
pay 1.6 RMB/cubic meter ($5.79 USD/MMBtu) including distribution
costs. Zeng stated residential and industrial customers pay 3.8
RMB/cubic meter ($13.76 USD/MMBtu). Zeng continued that in China
today LNG prices above 2 RMB/cubic meter ($7.24 USD/MMBtu) to the
terminal would be unable to compete. Yet the Chinese government has
given CNOOC greater flexibility to negotiate new deals with a new
contract cap of approximately $6 USD/MMBtu, not coincidentally the
ceiling price of the renegotiated Indonesia-FQian deal and the
reported contract price of the Malaysian SPA between Petronas and

GUANGZHOU 00000418 004 OF 005


CNOOC to supply the Shanghai LNG terminal.

13. (SBU) At $6/MMBtu, the Chinese have moved much closer to the
world price for long-term gas contracts but the desire for ceiling
prices still remains an issue in new contract negotiations. Zeng
stated as long as the LNG market is tilted toward sellers, ceiling
prices will either be unavailable or significantly higher. Zeng
speculated that China might enter into deals with higher ceiling
prices once infrastructure to currently oil-dependent industrial
users is further developed. These customers could still view
market-priced LNG as a less expensive and cleaner alternative to
fuel oil and diesel.

But Where will The Gas Come From?
---------------------------------

14. (SBU) One thing that emerged from the Dapeng LNG deal was CNOOC
and the Chinese government's frustration in dealing with a large
Western joint venture. Northwest Shelf Australia LNG has six main
partners from five different countries. CNOOC, perhaps feeling it
could deal better with one partner directly and better leverage
government-to-government involvement in deal negotiation, has since
negotiated mainly with other national oil companies and government
organizations such as Pertamina and BP MIGAS in Indonesia and
Petronas in Malaysia. Zeng said that new LNG supply deals are being
explored with both of these countries as well as with Brunei and
Qatar.

15. (SBU) The Chinese government still requires CNOOC to purchase a
portion of the rights to the fields from which it sources gas. With
the market currently favoring LNG sellers, there is little
motivation for large Western integrated oil companies to sell pieces
of profitable fields. As such, CNOOC will continue to pursue oil
and gas fields in places where many major Western oil companies are
unable to do business and locations where government-to-government
influence can be better used to the company's advantage.

And How Will it Move?
---------------------

16. (SBU) Pipelines are another issue. As part of phase one of
Dapeng, a 379 km series of pipelines was built to transport gas
between the cities of Shenzhen, Huizhou, Dongguan, Guangzhou,
Foshan, and Hong Kong. The pipeline primarily runs east-west and
traverses rivers 14 times. The chosen routing goes through
minimally populated areas where possible. CNOOC's Putian terminal
also will include a pipeline that will span the coast of Fujian
province from Fuzhou in the north to Zhangzhou in the south also
supplying the cities of Quanzhou and Xiamen. There is currently
neither a plan to link the two pipelines together nor to link either
pipeline to existing pipeline systems such as West-East pipeline
that flows gas from Xinjiang to Shanghai.

17. (SBU) Both Mr. King of Dapeng and Mr. Shi of CNOOC Gas and Power
commented that linking of pipelines would likely be covered in the
12th five year plan. The long term goal is a nationwide network
linking all of the coastal LNG terminals and offshore production
with domestic supplies from Xinjiang and Sichuan. King further
stated that difficulties will arise without technical management and
broad accommodation for the different qualities of gas found inland,
offshore, and the varied imports from overseas sources through the
LNG terminals.

18. (SBU) Mr. Zeng was not as optimistic about the pipeline network,
stating that current delays in LNG terminal construction would push
completion of the Pearl River Delta's gas infrastructure to 2015.
In his estimation, a coastal pipeline network linking Guangdong and
Fujian would not be completed until well after 2020.


GUANGZHOU 00000418 005 OF 005


Comment
-------

19. (SBU) Guangdong's stated goal to raise natural gas use from the
current level of about 3% of all energy to 10% by 2010 will not be
met. Even the most optimistic projections for natural gas supply
and LNG terminal construction would struggle to meet this goal by
2015. Furthermore, the desire to add LNG as a fuel for power
generation solely to diversify from domestic coal or to improve the
environment seems misplaced. Imported LNG will not be able to
compete with the cost of Chinese coal and at current prices large
scale investment in anti-polluting technologies for coal-fired
plants would be more economically feasible. Until promising
domestic gas sources (onshore, offshore, and alternatives such as
coal-bed methane) are further developed, imported LNG is best used
as a competitor for dirtier, higher-priced, imported energy sources
such as fuel oil, LPG, and diesel. Unfortunately, without completed
terminal networks and long-term guaranteed supplies, South China
looks unwilling to invest much in expanding its currently limited
distribution channels to these potential users.

Note of Conversions
-------------------

20. (U) In this cable, the following conversion factors were used in
computing equivalents:

1 cubic meter natural gas = 35.3 cubic feet natural gas
1 MMBtu = 27.993 cubic meters of natural gas
1 ton of fuel oil = 6.66 barrels
1 ton of crude oil = 7.33 barrels
1 USD = 7.73 RMB

GOLDBERG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC