Chris N Le Fevre

Senior Visiting Research Fellow

Chris Le Fevre joined the OIES in September 2012. He has published working papers on gas storage in Great Britain (January 2013) the potential for natural gas as a transportation fuel in Europe (March 2014) and the impact of UK energy policy on the gas sector (September 2015). Chris has worked as an independent energy consultant since 2002, specializing in commercial, strategic, and regulatory issues in the natural gas sector, with particular focus on European and former Soviet markets. Chris has worked in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years. He has held a variety of positions to executive director level at Transco plc (now National Grid Gas plc) and British Gas. At Transco, he was the director responsible for implementing the ‘Network Code’ and the introduction of domestic competition. His roles at British Gas included establishing operations in a number of European countries, including Spain, the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Before British Gas, he worked for Shell in exploration and production companies in the Netherlands and Malaysia. He is also a contributor to Oxford Analytica and, until 2011, sat on the boards of the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator and the South Central Strategic Health Authority.

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                    [post_content] => UK energy policy has often mystified outsiders. Politicians and policy makers talk grandly of solving the energy “trilemma” of affordability, environmental sustainability and security of supply. Many energy experts seem ensnared in endless debates regarding the minutiae of the electricity supply sector whilst in the real world coal displaces gas in power generation, prices rise and, if the media headlines are to be believed, gas and electricity supplies are in danger – the familiar ‘lights going out’ story.

The paper addresses two primary questions:

• How has UK energy policy since 2000 impacted on the gas sector?
• Is there a case for an integrated natural gas strategy for the UK or, in other words, does the absence of such a strategy pose particular risks to the energy sector and the wider UK economy? If this is the case what specific policy initiatives might be directed at the gas market?

The UK gas market is a complex set of interactions and whilst a long-term future for gas is not assured it should continue to play a key role in the provision of heat and power in the UK for many years to come. There is the danger that policy initiatives aimed at a particular part of the energy chain will fail to address the specific needs and opportunities presented by natural gas. It is therefore essential that policy makers recognise and plan for the continuing large scale presence of gas in the energy mix.

Without this recognition, the lead times involved may mean the gas-related components of the portfolio are not available when required. This is a particularly pressing issue for new generation gas-fired power plant. The recent capacity auctions have not incentivised any additional projects and this could lead to inadequate reserve margins of reliable generation unless the market dynamics shift in favour of gas. In this context it should be noted that the lead time for new CCGTs, including planning and approval is between 4 and 8 years.

There should be little doubt that there will be a role for gas for the next two decades at least and the gas industry needs to ensure it can play this role effectively. The critical challenge for policy makers is to identify the ways in which the role can be integrated positively and effectively within the broader energy framework to ensure an equitable outcome for the industry and an optimal solution for consumers and taxpayers.

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                    [post_content] => In the wake of the recession resulting from the financial crisis of 2008, European demand for natural gas is essentially stagnant and has recently lost market share to coal and renewables in the power generation sector in various European national markets.  This factor, as well as the significant price differential between natural gas and oil products since 2008, has created renewed interest in the market for natural gas in transport.

Gas in transport is neither new nor revolutionary. An assessment of gas’ prospects in this sector relates to its ability to displace other fuels (existing and new alternatives).  An additional complication is the need to consider transportation sub-sectors, namely: light duty road transport, public passenger road transport, freight and goods vehicles and marine and inland waterway shipping.

In this comprehensive paper Chris Le Fevre draws on extensive research and discussion with interested bodies to address the case for natural gas in transport, the extent and likelihood of its adoption, the long term implications for additional European gas demand and the key policy drivers and structural challenges which would encourage or inhibit these developments.

 
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                    [post_content] => During the last decade any discussion of Great Britain’s natural gas security of supply has touched on the issue of the adequacy, or otherwise, of underground storage capacity.  Simplistic comparisons with neighbouring continental European national gas markets are questionable due to the differing pace of market liberalisation, changing demand and supply patterns and the availability of other forms of flexibility.  The ‘right’ level of storage has been an elusive quantity, still less the appropriate means by which it can be brought into existence.

Chris Le Fevre’s paper provides a thorough and comprehensive review of gas storage in Great Britain covering the practicalities of storage, the evolution of the UK storage sector and the attendant debate on security of supply.  The paper examines the role of storage and other sources of flexibility in recent winter periods and the factors which will determine future flexibility needs.  The suite of potential storage projects is described together with a realistic assessment of the barriers and challenges to their successful implementation.  In addressing these issues Chris considers the UK’s situation in the context of increasing infrastructure linkages to the European continent and to the world LNG market.
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The paper addresses two primary questions:

• How has UK energy policy since 2000 impacted on the gas sector?
• Is there a case for an integrated natural gas strategy for the UK or, in other words, does the absence of such a strategy pose particular risks to the energy sector and the wider UK economy? If this is the case what specific policy initiatives might be directed at the gas market?

The UK gas market is a complex set of interactions and whilst a long-term future for gas is not assured it should continue to play a key role in the provision of heat and power in the UK for many years to come. There is the danger that policy initiatives aimed at a particular part of the energy chain will fail to address the specific needs and opportunities presented by natural gas. It is therefore essential that policy makers recognise and plan for the continuing large scale presence of gas in the energy mix.

Without this recognition, the lead times involved may mean the gas-related components of the portfolio are not available when required. This is a particularly pressing issue for new generation gas-fired power plant. The recent capacity auctions have not incentivised any additional projects and this could lead to inadequate reserve margins of reliable generation unless the market dynamics shift in favour of gas. In this context it should be noted that the lead time for new CCGTs, including planning and approval is between 4 and 8 years.

There should be little doubt that there will be a role for gas for the next two decades at least and the gas industry needs to ensure it can play this role effectively. The critical challenge for policy makers is to identify the ways in which the role can be integrated positively and effectively within the broader energy framework to ensure an equitable outcome for the industry and an optimal solution for consumers and taxpayers.

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Latest Publications by Chris N Le Fevre

Latest research by Chris N Le Fevre

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