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Vitol Pays Millions for Market Manipulation // Amazon Plugs In

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: global energy giant Vitol has to pay fines for manipulating the California power market, Amazon plans to use Plug In’s electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen, and more.

Vitol Pays Millions for Market Manipulation

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Global energy firm Vitol and one of its traders have agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle charges of market manipulation in the California power market brought on by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC said Vitol is to pay $2.225 million and the trader deemed responsible, Frederico Corteggiano, will pay $75,000 in civil penalties.

Corteggiano became part of Vitol in 2012. In 2014, the enforcement office of FERC initiated an investigation into Vitol's trading actions within California's electric power market around October 28, 2013.

Six years later, FERC sought $3.5 million from Vitol claiming that the company and Corteggiano breached federal market manipulation regulations by deliberately selling physical power at a loss to tamper with prices in a different market.

The 2019 filing asserted that in 2013, Corteggiano racked up profits of at least $13 million for the firm.

Both Vitol and Corteggiano deny all allegations.

Amazon Plugs In

Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash

Amazon plans to trick out a Colorado fulfillment facility with hydrogen-powered forklifts. Plug Power is to furnish the facility with a 1 MW electrolyzer that will use electricity and water to make hydrogen.

“The electrolyzer system will produce low-carbon hydrogen to fuel more than 225 hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklift trucks at the site and has the capacity to support up to 400 hydrogen-fueled forklift trucks,” reports Utility Dive. “The hydrogen will be compressed on-site and stored in a gaseous storage tank to be used by the forklift trucks.”

But Plug may also be in hot water. The company is on the verge of bankruptcy and has entered into advanced talks with the Department of Energy’s loan office to lock down a vital $1.5 billion loan. The DOE’s loan office director, Jigar Shah, was once invested in Plug through his firm Generate Capital, though he sold off his Generate shares in 2021 when he began working for the Biden administration.

Plug’s electrolyzer deal with Amazon builds on an already fruitful relationship. The company “previously sent over 17,000 fuel cells to replace batteries in forklifts in more than 80 of Amazon’s North American fulfillment centers,” according to Utility Dive.

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Conversation Starters

  • India inks deal with Vitol. “GAIL (India) has signed a long-term LNG deal with Vitol, under which the top commodity trader will supply around 1 million metric tons of LNG annually for 10 years starting in 2026, the Indian state-held firm said on Friday,” reports Oilprice.com. “As part of the deal, Vitol will deliver LNG from its global LNG portfolio to GAIL in India. GAIL owns and operates a network of over 16,000 kilometers (9,942 miles) of natural gas pipelines in India and works on multiple pipeline projects to further enhance the gas supply and coverage. GAIL has around 70% market share in gas transmission and a share of over 50% in gas trading in India.”

  • China gets started on a renewable mega project. “A Chinese energy firm has broken ground on a massive new 55 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) project in Shanxi province combining wind turbines, solar panels and battery storage in an old coal mining area,” reports Bloomberg. “State-owned Jinneng Holding Group Co. started construction on the project Friday, according to a report from Shanxi Daily. The facility in a derelict coal area in the mining hub of Datong will have 6 gigawatts of wind and solar capacity and 3.4 gigawatt-hours of energy storage. It will be connected to the grid by the end of 2025, feeding power to Beijing and its surrounding areas via the Datong-Tianjin ultra-high voltage power line, according to the report.”

  • DOE approves loan for methane monitoring. “The Department of Energy's loan office on Friday conditionally approved a $189 million loan to support the build-out of a methane monitoring network in key oil-producing basins that would provide real-time data for tens of thousands of oil and gas sites, which it estimates could prevent the equivalent of at least 6 millions tons of carbon dioxide per year,” reports Reuters. “Houston-based Long Path Technologies will use the loan to deploy its Emissions Overwatch System across 24,000 square miles (62,160 square km) in several states. The technology uses lasers - placed on 50-foot (15-meter) towers - to monitor areas for methane leaks.”

Crom’s Blessing

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