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Monday, September 22, 2003

Power Consumption in China

While we in Europe continue to sweat and sweat under the sustained pressure of the summer 'canicule', the Chinese appetite for fuel consumption continues to grow and grow. Logically there is a problem somewhere. The French nuclear industry seems to have been built under the impression that the important temperature calculations were those pertaining to the interior of the reactor. It never seems to have been contemplated that the melt-down could be precipitated externally. Result: the nuclear industry is now functioning at reduced capacity, with the reactors being hosed-down externally, and the water being fed-back into the rivers at temperatures of around 30 degrees centigrade. Assuming that it's a good first guess that some of this climatic change is related to CO2 emmisions, what exactly is the plan?

China's orders for new power equipment so far this year have outstripped its purchases for the whole of 2002 by 50 per cent, as a restructured local industry attempts to keep pace with surging demand for electricity from industry and households. The purchases of power equipment in the seven months to July will add 30 gigawatts of new capacity to the national grid, equal to nearly 10 per cent of existing capacity, according to a survey of orders conducted for foreign energy executives.

The rapid growth is helping multinational infrastructure companies such as Siemens and General Electric compensate for weak demand in Europe and the US. GE Power Systems was aiming for $1bn of orders in China this year, but has already signed a $900m deal for 13 new gas turbines providing around 5 gigawatts. This year's orders compare to total purchases of 20GW worth of equipment last year, itself much higher than the two previous years, after a government moratorium on capital spending in the industry. At this rate, China could this year order new capacity almost equivalent to the UK's entire peak electricity demand of 55 GW. "The bottom line is they need to generate more power, so they are ordering equipment," said Joseph Jacobelli, an analyst with Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong. The survey for the foreign executives covers purchases only for thermal plants, which are mainly coal-fired, and does not include new capacity for hydro-electric or nuclear power.

The greatest growth in demand has come from increased industrial production, barely interrupted during the Sars crisis, and investments in power-hungry aluminium smelters. The rapid expansion coincides with an extended heatwave in parts of China, especially around Shanghai, which has forced the government to ration power to some factories and even close them on some days. Tan Yin, a researcher at Guangfa Securities in Guangzhou, says local Chinese manufacturers will get orders totaling around Rmb30bn-Rmb40bn in 2003. But their problems in keeping pace with orders may leave opportunities for foreign companies to sell into the Chinese equipment market, executives said on Monday.
Source: Financial Times

China's recovery from Sars boosts oil demand

China's faster-than-expected recovery from the impact of the Sars outbreak has boosted this year's forecast for global oil demand, the International Energy Agency reported on Monday. The West's energy watchdog revised global oil demand growth in 2003 by 100,000 b/d to 1.11m b/d, for a total of 78.41m b/d this year. It also said global demand in 2004 is now expected to be higher at 79.48m b/d after revisions to its historical data raised the baseline of non-OECD demand upwards. The global supply of oil surged by 916,000 b/d in July to 78.64m b/d, helped by higher volumes from the North Sea and gains in Iraqi production levels. The bulk of the increase was from non-Opec production, which rose by 688,000 b/d. Crude oil prices rallied at the end of July, after spending much of the month near post-Iraqi war highs of close to $32 on WTI and at the top of the Opec's target $22-28 price range, the IEA said in its monthly oil market report.
Source: Financial Times

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