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 Alternative Energy & Renewable Energy

 

China’s Energy Plan to Reduce Its Dependence upon Coal

China's air pollution and coal mining deaths have horrified the global community. The country is now taking actions to reduce both. One energy plan includes coal bed methane gas, which vents the coal mines and prevents explosions. It is used as a natural gas, and is helping China expand its dependence upon a cleaner burning fuel. Now Canadian companies are rushing to China to capitalize upon the opportunities the Chinese govt is giving them. How can investors benefit from this?

coal, china, coal bed methane, natural gas, stocks, investing, canada, exploration, mining

According to a U.S. Congressional – Executive Commission on China, which held a series of Issues Roundtables in late 2004, it was estimated that 12 Chinese mine workers die for every million tons of coal produced. Most are killed by methane gas explosions while inside the coal mines. China Business Weekly reported in July 2000, “To prevent gas explosions, China emits 6 billion cubic meters of methane from mines annually, seriously polluting the environment…” Last year, instruments on the world’s largest environment-monitoring satellite, the European Space Agency’s Envisat, revealed the world’s largest amount of nitrogen dioxide was hanging over Beijing and northeastern China. Because the country emits more methane from its coal mining than any other coal producing country, China pollutes the earth’s atmosphere with about one-third of the total annual emissions of methane. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, methane traps heat twenty times more than carbon dioxide, which impacts global warming

On March 6th, People’s Daily reported, “Shanxi, China’s largest coal-producing province, plans to put the brakes on the further expansion of coal mining in the next five years.” Shanxi Governor Yu Youjun at a recent press conference announced, “We can not continue the rough way of development any more and must limit coal production strictly with the guidance of scientific concept of development.” While only slightly reducing the country’s aggressive GDP growth, China has instituted reforms to maximize its energy efficiency and minimize the environmental damage and loss of human life. Not only is the country stamping down on the causes of these problems, it wants western technology to help become more efficient.

Since September 2005, Shanxi shut down nearly 5,000 illegal mines and fined or imprisoned more than 1,200 operators, including 60 local officials. Coal produced about 70 percent of China’s energy supply in 2005. The Chinese government worries China’s dependence upon coal could rise above 80 percent
over the next five years. The country is second only to the U.S. as a net importer of petroleum. Nontraditional sources are being encouraged to clean up the environment and reduce China’s dependence upon foreign oil. StockInterview.com has widely discussed China’s scramble for uranium as the country has embarked upon the most aggressive nuclear power program since the United States in the 1970s. Along with nuclear energy, China hopes to exponentially expand its natural gas program as a means of lowering its astronomical levels of air pollution.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told the National People’s Congress earlier this month that the country’s growth rate would be reduced to 7.5 percent over the country’s next five year plan. Economic growth reached nearly 10 percent in 2005. The strain imposed on China’s natural resources and labor has been taking its toll. According to the next five-year plan, China’s government policy will concentrate on building a resource-efficient and environment-friendly society. Their idea is to sustain the high output while reducing waste.

That may not be so simple. On February 20th, China Daily reported, “The bulk of China’s gas-fired power plants are on the verge of closure due to a shortage of natural gas.” Wang Yonggan, secretary general of China Electricity Council, said nearly 40 percent of China’s power plant capacity remained unused because of the lack of gas supplies. Wang warned a plan drafted the National Development and Reform Commission to increase China’s gas power capacity to 30 gigawatts by 2010 (up from 10.7 now) would make “such targets impossible to reach,” because of the gas shortfalls.

China’s Ambitious Coal Bed Methane Gas Development

One of the more serious reforms being addressed is the energy crisis within the context of the environmental stigma now attached to China. Coal is a problem because, as toxic as it is known to be, it helps fuel China’s growth, literally. But the dark rock has its bright side. Following the examples of the U.S. coal industry, predominantly in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, and Alabama’s Black Warrior Basin, and the more recent rise of Alberta’s Horseshoe Canyon, China has aggressively moved into the development of its coal bed methane gas industry. The degasification of coal can not only increase mining safety, but it can be an economic method of natural gas production.

In a 2005 report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, coal bed methane is being taken very seriously as an  Alternative Energy & Renewable Energy source with strong growth potential in the U.S. energy mix, “Geologists call it continuous gas, but it is also called unconventional gas or even weird gas. Whatever you choose to call it, you must give it due respect for its growing importance. The Department of Energy reports the share of unconventional gas doubled from 17 percent of Lower 48 natural gas supplies in 1990 to 35 percent in 2003. By 2025 it is projected to be 44 percent— matching the role of conventional gas—with the remaining 12 percent of domestic supplies imported.”

By 2010, China hopes to increase its dependence upon cleaner burning fuels, such as nuclear and natural gas. However, the greatest immediate growth, for instance over the next five years, is likely to come from natural gas. Recent statistics show natural gas to be about 3 percent of China’s energy mix. Numerous announcements over the past two years have been made that the country wants gas in its energy mix to reach 8 percent or more. For those who have traveled to China, it is no secret the country is in dire need of cleaner burning fuels.

Official statistics show that China uses 2.45 tons of water to produce a ton of coal. Coal bed methane, a byproduct, is often wasted. In 1996, China established China United Coalbed Methane (CUCBM) to harness that byproduct and to help reduce the toxic pollution and alarming fatalities, generated by coal mining. CUCBM is a sole professional company with the exclusive right to explore and develop coalbed methane resources in joint ventures with foreign companies. It is controlled jointly by PetroChina Energy Company and the China Coal Energy Group Corporation.

CUCBM has been actively developing China’s coal bed methane industry by drawing upon the expertise, technology and capital of its foreign partners. “More high level technologies need to be deployed to ensure reliable power supplies,” Ma Songde, China’s vice minister of science and technology told Associated Press in late February. “By developing these technologies, we can resolve issues restricting growth and enhance growth.” China is actively seeking foreign investment and cooperation in power generation, particularly in clean energy.

As a light hydrocarbon, coal bed methane is among the cleanest sources of energy. Published reports show that China’s coal bed methane (CBM) resources, buried within a recoverable depth of 2000 meters, are estimated at approximately 36.81 trillion cubic meters. China has the world’s third largest CBM resource. Following behind the United States, it is the second country to have conducted large-scale field exploration of coal bed methane.

According to a March 9th article in People’s Daily, “China’s coal bed methane industry made important headway in 2005.” About 340 CBM wells were drilled across the country. That may not sound astonishing compared to the number of wells drilled in Canada, during the same year, which surpassed the 3,000 level for the first time. In that context, China remains nearly a virgin territory for CBM. CUCBM has been actively partnering with the world’s giant oil companies and others to explore their vast CMB reserves. In 1998, Texaco (now Chevron-Texaco) was the first to partner with CUCBM and resulted in geological studies, exploratory wells and development contracts.

Since then, CUCBM has been extremely selective in choosing its joint venture partners to develop the ultra-valuable Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs). After attracting oil majors such as Texaco and Conoco-Phillips, only a total of 26 Production Sharing Contracts have been awarded to foreign-owned companies. Total coverage of those contracts now extends about 34,000 square kilometers of China’s below surface coal basins. Foreign companies have investment more than $150 million in the contracted blocks. CUCBM hopes to ramp up coal bed methane output by 2010 to help meet the national gas growth target of 10 billion cubic meters.

Pacific Asia Energy Corporation’s CBM Contracts in China

The first Canadian publicly traded company awarded a Production Sharing Contract was Pacific Asia China Energy Inc (PACE), which holds the PSC through its wholly owned subsidiary, Asia Canada Energy Corp. Pacific Asia China Energy, which trades on Toronto’s Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol of PCE, also holds a second PSC through another wholly owned subsidiary China Canada Energy Corporation. It was the former which interested us, the company’s Guizhou Project in southern China.

In talking with Dr. David Marchioni, one of Canada’s leading CBM geologists, he said of CUCBM, “The Chinese government doesn’t want to hand out resources to people who don’t do anything with them. They want them developed. They want to have gas. They want to have energy.” Dr. Marchioni helped co-author “An Assessment of Coalbed Methane Exploration Projects in Canada,” published by the Geological Survey of Canada. He is also president of Petro-Logic Services in Calgary, whose clients have included the Canadian divisions of Apache, BP, BHP, Burlington, Devon, El Paso Energy, and Phillips Petroleum, among others. He is also a director of Pacific Asia China Energy and is overseeing the company’s CBM exploration program in China.

But what is the strategy here? If Alberta is now turning the corner and putting itself on the map as a serious CBM contender, why would one of Canada’s top CBM geologists get excited and pursue a property in southern China. “We got access to a huge resource for little money,” said Dr. Marchioni. “Instead of paying hundreds of millions for a concession this size, we paid a small fraction of that

. Comparably, the project at Guizhou would have cost up to $200 million to acquire in Alberta.”

China needs to attract foreign capital, and may be generous up front, but did PACE buy a pig in the poke? We questioned him about the potential size of the resource. Marchioni responded, “The layman may think those are really big numbers, but you only have to look at the official reports. These are the numbers those guys think.” He was referring to the Sproule assessment of the resource, which offered a three-case scenario, starting at nearly 1 billion cubic feet and reaching the upper limit of more than 11 trillion cubic feet. Still, their assessment for a “most likely scenario” was a hefty 5.2 trillion cubic feet. Marchioni added, “They were numbers we originally thought we had, and they’ve been confirmed.”

How big is big in this case? “I think we could fully support some large plant of some sort,” Marchioni explained. “This is more of a long-term thing where you would be looking at a major industrial development. You’d be looking to either have enough money yourself or you bring in partners to do things like liquefied natural gas or major gas-fired power station, liquefaction of coal.”

Marchioni was quite excited about the CBM project in Guizhou, “These are all big projects, but the resource is there to support such a project. Because the resource is so huge, you could support a project like that. There also are a lot of potential industrial users for gas in the region.” China Daily reported South China, where the Guizhou province is located, is facing gas shortage problems because of the high energy demands of Guangdong province.

And what does PACE bring to the Chinese? “Hopefully, they’ll have an operating CBM project or two contributing clean burning fuel to their energy mix, which is really what they want,” answered Marchioni. “We also bring access to outside technology from places that are producing CBM.”

 

Cohen Research Report Bullish on Pacific Asia China Energy

We reviewed a research firm’s report on a coalbed methane company. Cohen Independent Research Group issued a Buy recommendation on the shares of Pacific Asia China Energy (TSX: PCE), calling those shares “grossly undervalued.” Why is it undervalued?

Coal, gas, CBM, coalbed methane, China, stocks, stock research, Canada, energy

A recent report published by the Cohen Independent Research Group, called Wall Street’s #1 Independent Research Firm, rated Pacific Asia China Energy (TSX: PCE: Other OTC: PCEEF) a Buy. The 68-page research report set three wide-ranging valuation levels as price targets for PCE shares for the company’s coalbed methane concessions in China. Considerations such as the wide range of the Guizhou’s abundant gas reserves, expected prices of natural gas during the research firm’s forecast period, and discounting factors, such as the stock price’s high volatility, were included in their price targets.

PCE shares, which closed at C$1.16/share on nearly 131,000 shares trading hands on June 19th, were given long-term fair market pricing of C$1.96/share by Cohen Research. This pricing was under the most pessimistic scenario. The low-case scenario included a natural gas price as low as $275 per 1000 cubic meters, and included a discount rate of 25 percent on the stock price. Cohen also reported, in the report, that at the current market price, PCE is “grossly undervalued.”

Cohen Research wrote, “As per our Base Case scenario estimates, the NAV of PACE’s resources falls in the range of C$5.31 – 7.83 per share (with a discounting factor of 20 percent).” Under the most optimistic pricing, assuming natural gas at $375 per 1000 cubic meters, Cohen targeted PCE shares at C$11.56/share. Cohen Research used the Net Asset Value (NAV) based method, which is one of the most accepted methods to value mining companies.

PACE, the acronym for Pacific Asia China Energy and not the stock’s ticker symbol (which is PCE, trading on the Toronto Venture Exchange, or TSX), is fortunate that one of its concessions is in the Guizhou province of China. Estimates describe this Chinese province as hosting more than 20 percent of China’s coalbed methane (CBM) reserves. The country’s total CBM reserves have been independently estimated to exceed 31 trillion cubic feet.

PACE was the first Canadian publicly traded company to participate in China’s granting of CBM concessions. PACE is participating in the Baotian-Qingshan CBM project through its wholly owned subsidiary Asia Canada Energy (ACE). China’s state-owned CBM company, China United Coalbed Methane (CUCBM), granted the 970-square kilometer CBM concession in September 2005 to ACE. The Baotian-Qingshan concession is located in the CBM-rich Guizhou province.

The Cohen Research NAV levels confirm what we anticipated. Earlier this year, we had reported on the assessment by Sproule International on the Baotian-Qingshan property. On March 1st, PACE had released three scenarios presented in the technical report filed by Sproule. The worst-case scenario on the property showed 504 billion cubic feet for three coal seams. The high case volume scenario for seven coal seams reached as high as 11.2 trillion cubic feet. Sproule’s assessment, called the “Most Likely Case volume” estimated 5.2 trillion cubic feet. Some analysts have valued each trillion cubic feet of gas at C$1 billion market capitalization.

This valuation does not include PACE’s other CBM concession in China, the Huangshi project, where the company began drilling test wells in mid May. Nor does this include the company’s joint venture partnership with Mitchell Drilling Services of Australia for the exclusive use of the drilling company’s Dymaxion® system in China. We interviewed Nathan Mitchell, president of the drilling company, who was both optimistic and excited about his company’s joint venture with PACE, and looked forward to expanding his drilling operations into China.

Mitchell told us, during that interview, his drilling company’s technology made it possible to extract gas for around US$1.25 per mcf. This would help make potentially “uneconomic” gas more economic under a very pessimistic scenario. Revenues from others using the Dymaxion system in China would flow into the coffers of both PACE and Mitchell. Obviously this joint venture is moving forward. On June 8th, PACE announced it had appointed a country manager for the joint venture, writing, “Mr. Pacey will oversee all aspects of the joint venture activities in China as the Joint Venture Company prepares to deploy Mitchell Drilling Contractors Pty Ltd's proprietary Dymaxion Surface to In-seam Drilling System later this year.”

Cohen Research did warn of negatives in making a hypothetical Bear Case for PACE’s projects. The research team wrote, “Commercial viability has not yet been proven.” The report also pointed out that technical studies were insufficient to “accurately assess the quality of CBM” to be extracted. Current drilling is underway on both CBM concessions. On June 12th, PACE reported, “Early stage desorption data from 12 samples show a range of gas contents between 105 and 407 scf/t (3.3 to 12.7 m3/t) after 4 to 19 days of testing. These values will be exceeded as desorption will not be completed for several weeks.”
The company appears on the right track and has been issuing regular progress reports, which are encouraging. As PACE progresses to its final drilling in Guizhou province, and as the price of natural gas recovers, we suspect Cohen Research will be pleased with their price targets, as might shareholders in Pacific Asia China Energy.

 

Cohen Research Report Bullish on Pacific Asia China Energy

We reviewed a research firm’s report on a coalbed methane company. Cohen Independent Research Group issued a Buy recommendation on the shares of Pacific Asia China Energy (TSX: PCE), calling those shares “grossly undervalued.” Why is it undervalued?

Coal, gas, CBM, coalbed methane, China, stocks, stock research, Canada, energy

A recent report published by the Cohen Independent Research Group, called Wall Street’s #1 Independent Research Firm, rated Pacific Asia China Energy (TSX: PCE: Other OTC: PCEEF) a Buy. The 68-page research report set three wide-ranging valuation levels as price targets for PCE shares for the company’s coalbed methane concessions in China. Considerations such as the wide range of the Guizhou’s abundant gas reserves, expected prices of natural gas during the research firm’s forecast period, and discounting factors, such as the stock price’s high volatility, were included in their price targets.

PCE shares, which closed at C$1.16/share on nearly 131,000 shares trading hands on June 19th, were given long-term fair market pricing of C$1.96/share by Cohen Research. This pricing was under the most pessimistic scenario. The low-case scenario included a natural gas price as low as $275 per 1000 cubic meters, and included a discount rate of 25 percent on the stock price. Cohen also reported, in the report, that at the current market price, PCE is “grossly undervalued.”

Cohen Research wrote, “As per our Base Case scenario estimates, the NAV of PACE’s resources falls in the range of C$5.31 – 7.83 per share (with a discounting factor of 20 percent).” Under the most optimistic pricing, assuming natural gas at $375 per 1000 cubic meters, Cohen targeted PCE shares at C$11.56/share. Cohen Research used the Net Asset Value (NAV) based method, which is one of the most accepted methods to value mining companies.

PACE, the acronym for Pacific Asia China Energy and not the stock’s ticker symbol (which is PCE, trading on the Toronto Venture Exchange, or TSX), is fortunate that one of its concessions is in the Guizhou province of China. Estimates describe this Chinese province as hosting more than 20 percent of China’s coalbed methane (CBM) reserves. The country’s total CBM reserves have been independently estimated to exceed 31 trillion cubic feet.

PACE was the first Canadian publicly traded company to participate in China’s granting of CBM concessions. PACE is participating in the Baotian-Qingshan CBM project through its wholly owned subsidiary Asia Canada Energy (ACE). China’s state-owned CBM company, China United Coalbed Methane (CUCBM), granted the 970-square kilometer CBM concession in September 2005 to ACE. The Baotian-Qingshan concession is located in the CBM-rich Guizhou province.

The Cohen Research NAV levels confirm what we anticipated. Earlier this year, we had reported on the assessment by Sproule International on the Baotian-Qingshan property. On March 1st, PACE had released three scenarios presented in the technical report filed by Sproule. The worst-case scenario on the property showed 504 billion cubic feet for three coal seams. The high case volume scenario for seven coal seams reached as high as 11.2 trillion cubic feet. Sproule’s assessment, called the “Most Likely Case volume” estimated 5.2 trillion cubic feet. Some analysts have valued each trillion cubic feet of gas at C$1 billion market capitalization.

This valuation does not include PACE’s other CBM concession in China, the Huangshi project, where the company began drilling test wells in mid May. Nor does this include the company’s joint venture partnership with Mitchell Drilling Services of Australia for the exclusive use of the drilling company’s Dymaxion® system in China. We interviewed Nathan Mitchell, president of the drilling company, who was both optimistic and excited about his company’s joint venture with PACE, and looked forward to expanding his drilling operations into China.

Mitchell told us, during that interview, his drilling company’s technology made it possible to extract gas for around US$1.25 per mcf. This would help make potentially “uneconomic” gas more economic under a very pessimistic scenario. Revenues from others using the Dymaxion system in China would flow into the coffers of both PACE and Mitchell. Obviously this joint venture is moving forward. On June 8th, PACE announced it had appointed a country manager for the joint venture, writing, “Mr. Pacey will oversee all aspects of the joint venture activities in China as the Joint Venture Company prepares to deploy Mitchell Drilling Contractors Pty Ltd's proprietary Dymaxion Surface to In-seam Drilling System later this year.”

Cohen Research did warn of negatives in making a hypothetical Bear Case for PACE’s projects. The research team wrote, “Commercial viability has not yet been proven.” The report also pointed out that technical studies were insufficient to “accurately assess the quality of CBM” to be extracted. Current drilling is underway on both CBM concessions. On June 12th, PACE reported, “Early stage desorption data from 12 samples show a range of gas contents between 105 and 407 scf/t (3.3 to 12.7 m3/t) after 4 to 19 days of testing. These values will be exceeded as desorption will not be completed for several weeks.”
The company appears on the right track and has been issuing regular progress reports, which are encouraging. As PACE progresses to its final drilling in Guizhou province, and as the price of natural gas recovers, we suspect Cohen Research will be pleased with their price targets, as might shareholders in Pacific Asia China Energy.




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