Lewes, DE -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/02/2014 -- Belgium's Oil and Gas sector offers little upside for growth due to a lack of indigenous reserves. A small amount of unconventional exploration may be possible targeting Belgium's coal-bed methane but the potential exit of one of the country's key energy companies is likely to negatively impact the rate of development. Belgium is expected to remain dependent on imports through the forecast period with limited potential to attract any major investment in the near term despite mature infrastructure in the country.
The main trends and developments in Belgium's oil and gas sector are:
>> Although we forecast both gas reserves and production to remain at zero, we highlight efforts by Dart Energy and NVM's joint venture Limburg Gas that will help to determine the feasibility of commercial recovery of coal-bed methane (CBM). The Flemish Institute of Technology estimates the Limburg area could contain 7bn cubic metres (bcm) worth of gas.
>> If commercial, such volumes would ease the country's total dependence upon imports, yet at present, we believe it is more likely that any output would not only be outside our forecast period, but would stem rather than halt the country's dependence upon imports. However, Dart has previously suggested production may be possible from 2019.
>> Yet, given the slow progress of efforts to commercialise unconventional prospects in the region - and reports of greater progress by Dart elsewhere in Europe, such as the UK - we do not view any commercial production of CBM as likely in our 10-year forecast period. Indeed, recent company materials describe Dart's Belgium assets as 'non-core', and outline company strategy as focusing on maximising returns which may include joint ventures, farm-outs, sale or exit.
>> The world's first LNG-powered tug M / T Borgøy docked in the port of Zeebrugge to load LNG fuel in 2014. M / T Borgøy is the first tug in the world sailing on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and emits nearly thirty percent less CO 2 and up to ninety percent less nitrogen oxide and particulate matter than traditionally built tugs.Total confirmed a US$1.29bn investment plan that would boost diesel production capacity at its Antwerp plant. The refinery would not see a cut in its 350,000 barrels per day (b/d) output, but would produce less heavy fuel in a move that Total says could result a US$500mn boost to its refining and petrochemical earnings. The upgrade will help the refinery to meet new European regulations limiting emissions and sulfur content.
The facilities product slate will shift, in line with other plants on the continent, toward greater diesel production and less heavy fuel.
>> Fluxys, independent operator of Belgium's natural gas transmission network, reported consumption in the country and volumes shipped through the country to other markets were up 10% and 16% respectively in the first nine months of 2013 (9M13). The increase was driven by prolonged cold weather in the early months of the year.
>> With nuclear generation capacity to remain stagnant over the next few years, before reactors are dismantled under the proposed phase-out, new electricity generating capacity is likely to be largely gasfired, with an emphasis on renewables.
Current government proposals call for tenders from 2015 for new gas-fired power generation, yet the delivery of such generation remains uncertain. We forecast Belgian gas demand to rise from 22bcm in 2013 to 25.4bcm by 2017 while finally reaching 30.1bcm by 2022, all met by increased pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports.
>> The cost of crude imports will be a forecast US$28.9bn in 2013, easing to US$28.3bn by 2017. The cost of gas imports is forecast at US$11.5bn for 2013 and should be US$12.3bn in 2017. At the time of writing we assume an OPEC basket oil price for 2013 of US$105 per barrel (bbl), falling to S$101.8/bbl in 2014.
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