Chris N Le Fevre

Senior Research Fellow

Chris Le Fevre retired in May 2020 after nearly ten years at the institute. His main areas of research interest are gas storage, gas as a transportation fuel and gas policy and regulation issues. He has published a number of papers on these topics including The impact of UK energy policy on the gas sector (September 2015), UK Storage encounters a Rough patch (May, 2017) Methane Emissions: from blind spot to spotlight (July, 2017). He has also contributed chapters to the Institute’s book LNG Markets in Transition, The Great Reconfiguration (2016). 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_date] => 2019-09-13 10:36:30
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                    [post_content] => The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies held a Work​shop on “The Future of Gas Networks” to examine decarbonisation plans and the impact of the potential growth in the use of renewable and decarbonised gases in Europe. Participants included representatives from nine European gas network companies (both transmission and distribution), technical experts in decarbonisation, regulators, government officials and academics. This document summarises the seven key issues for debate arising from the Workshop discussions:
  1. The major gas networks recognise the need to prepare for, and facilitate, decarbonisation.
  2. The route to decarbonisation can take many forms, though hydrogen is likely to feature in most networks. In larger countries solutions are likely to be regional rather than national.
  3. There are a number of pilot projects and targets/aspirations for 2050 – there is less clarity on how the targets will be achieved or on who will lead.
  4. Regulation is a key issue. In most countries existing regulatory objectives may need changing in order to align with government decarbonisation aspirations and the achievement of targets.
  5. There is a lack of consensus on whether and how market models might need to adapt.
  6. Detailed stakeholder analysis – and in particular customer attitudes – will be required.
  7. There are a range of important technical issues including standardisation, data quality and transparency, verification and certification to be considered.
[post_title] => The Future of Gas Networks - Key Issues for Debate [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-future-of-gas-networks-key-issues-for-debate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-13 11:42:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-13 10:42:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/?post_type=publications&p=31906 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 31522 [post_author] => 111 [post_date] => 2019-04-23 12:34:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-23 11:34:50 [post_content] => The number of Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) worldwide continues to grow though there are major differences between countries both in terms of levels of penetration and underlying drivers.  NGVs have some environmental advantages over petroleum-based fuels – particularly if biomethane is available - and, in many markets, are cheaper. However, the prospects for NGVs in the smaller vehicle sector are diminishing due to the rapid growth in electric vehicles. The growth outlook for heavy vehicles is brighter where electric traction is still less of an option. This insight explores these issues, examines the factors behind the range in uptake of NGVs between different countries and provides some indications of future growth prospects. [post_title] => A review of prospects for natural gas as a fuel in road transport [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => review-prospects-natural-gas-fuel-road-transport [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-08-23 12:14:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-08-23 11:14:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/?post_type=publications&p=31522 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 31106 [post_author] => 111 [post_date] => 2018-07-02 10:45:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-02 09:45:35 [post_content] => The growing level of interest displayed in LNG as a marine fuel, driven by both environmental restrictions and economic attractiveness means usage is certain to grow. There is, however, less certainty over the pace and scale of demand growth. This in part is due to the relatively poor data quality on marine fuel usage but primarily a reflection on the still early nature of market development and uncertainties over alternative fuel options. This paper, which is a follow up to an earler study published in 2013, aims:
  • To assess the most promising sectors for LNG in marine transportation in global shipping markets.
  • To derive a set of metrics that could be used to generate forecasts of LNG demand in the marine sector and to assess the validity of current forecasts
  • To assess the current state and planned state of LNG refuelling infrastructure and its impact on market development
  • To briefly mention the comparative prospects for LNG in land-based transport.
The paper concludes that the shipping sectors that are likely to be more promising for LNG include ro–ro ferries, cruise ships, bulk carriers, large container vessels, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, LNG tankers. It would also appear that because of the costs of retrofitting, most LNG-fuelled ships will be newly built and owners/operators are unlikely to commit without concluding a long-term supply contract covering both pricing and physical delivery. LNG suppliers which are prepared to conclude such contracts will provide an important stimulus to the market. The lead times involved and the relatively low capital cost of infrastructure suggest that refuelling capacity is unlikely to be a constraint. A review of recent forecasts suggest that global demand will be in the range of 25 to 30 mtpa of LNG by 2030. The paper describes how many new or converted vessels fuelled by LNG would be required to reach this level, how it might be achieved and where the main obstacles to uptake are likely to occur. It concludes, that on balance, a demand level of around 15 mtpa (excluding LNG tankers) by 2030 is a more realistic prospect at present. [post_title] => A review of demand prospects for LNG as a marine fuel [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => review-demand-prospects-lng-marine-fuel [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-23 09:48:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-23 08:48:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/?post_type=publications&p=31106 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30514 [post_author] => 111 [post_date] => 2017-07-06 11:06:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-06 10:06:27 [post_content] => The environmental impact of methane emissions – which come from a wide range of natural and anthropogenic sources – has received growing attention.  Methane is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Methane emissions that occur across the gas supply chain have long been seen by the industry as an unfortunate, if necessary, part of doing business. The economic cost of this activity was recognised but the cost of reducing emissions often outweighed any benefit. Furthermore, many regulatory regimes included allowances for unaccounted for gas allowed operators to pass on the cost of emissions to consumers. The environmental impact of gas emissions was at best a minor consideration and in most cases an industry blind spot. Global ambient methane levels have been rising and the coinciding growth in global gas production – and the rise of unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing - led some to conclude that methane emissions from the natural gas industry were primarily responsible. This hypothesis received further support in 2016 when the US EPA published a major upgrade (subsequently partially reversed) in emission estimates from natural gas supply. Furthermore, the gas industry’s track record in monitoring, reporting, and controlling methane emissions is arguably patchy. Industry attempts to present a united front have often resulted in obscure debates over data and impact. This has led environmental groups and some government agencies to question the, hitherto largely unchallenged, environmental credentials of natural gas as the “greenest” fossil fuel. In turn this resulted in increased demand for reporting and control requirements and greater industry focus, though initiatives have varied widely around the world. This paper summarises the main issues relating to gas industry methane emissions and examines the various activities, underway and planned, to assess and reduce them. It attempts to take a wide ranging, non-specialist, overview that covers both the technical and scientific perspectives as well as operational and regulatory considerations. The paper is structured as follows:
  • The global picture for methane emissions and the part played by the energy sector
  • Why controlling and reducing methane emissions is important.
  • How methane emissions are measured and reported levels and sources for the energy and gas sectors
  • How the impact of methane emissions is assessed
  • The overall impact of methane emissions on the environmental case for natural gas
  • Company and regulatory responses to the challenges of methane emissions
It looks at the issues globally though to provide greater granularity and illustrate some of the key points includes country profiles of the USA and Great Britain. Executive Summary [post_title] => Methane Emissions: from blind spot to spotlight [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => methane-emissions-blind-spot-spotlight [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-05 11:32:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-05 11:32:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/?post_type=publications&p=30514 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30399 [post_author] => 111 [post_date] => 2017-05-16 14:54:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-16 13:54:58 [post_content] => On April 12 Centrica Storage announced the suspension of injections at the Rough gas storage facility until at least May 2018. Whilst the market had to some extent been pre-warned of the problems the relatively muted response was, nevertheless, surprising. Does this reaction signal a declining role for long range storage or is the market in for a big shock? This comment considers the role of Rough and other forms of supply flexibility in the GB gas market and, if there is still a case for a seasonal facility such as Rough, how this might be achieved. It concludes that whilst a relatively relaxed market response to the possible demise of Rough is rational, the possibility of supply disruptions coinciding with sustained high demand suggests that it may be too soon to call time on seasonal storage in Great Britain. [post_title] => UK Storage encounters a Rough patch [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => uk-storage-encounters-rough-patch [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-16 14:54:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-16 13:54:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/?post_type=publications&p=30399 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27328 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2015-07-20 10:10:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-20 09:10:04 [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. Executive Summary [post_title] => The Role of Gas in UK Energy Policy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-role-of-gas-in-uk-energy-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-20 09:41:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-20 09:41:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/publications/the-role-of-gas-in-uk-energy-policy/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27428 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2014-03-03 10:36:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-03 10:36:49 [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.   [post_title] => The Prospects for Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel in Europe [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-prospects-for-natural-gas-as-a-transportation-fuel-in-europe [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-21 10:59:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-21 10:59:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/publications/the-prospects-for-natural-gas-as-a-transportation-fuel-in-europe/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27502 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2013-01-11 11:05:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-11 11:05:30 [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. [post_title] => Gas Storage in Great Britain [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => gas-storage-in-great-britain [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-20 15:10:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-20 15:10:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/publications/gas-storage-in-great-britain/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => publications [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 8 [current_post] => -1 [before_loop] => 1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 31906 [post_author] => 111 [post_date] => 2019-09-13 10:36:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-13 09:36:30 [post_content] => The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies held a Work​shop on “The Future of Gas Networks” to examine decarbonisation plans and the impact of the potential growth in the use of renewable and decarbonised gases in Europe. Participants included representatives from nine European gas network companies (both transmission and distribution), technical experts in decarbonisation, regulators, government officials and academics. This document summarises the seven key issues for debate arising from the Workshop discussions:
  1. The major gas networks recognise the need to prepare for, and facilitate, decarbonisation.
  2. The route to decarbonisation can take many forms, though hydrogen is likely to feature in most networks. In larger countries solutions are likely to be regional rather than national.
  3. There are a number of pilot projects and targets/aspirations for 2050 – there is less clarity on how the targets will be achieved or on who will lead.
  4. Regulation is a key issue. In most countries existing regulatory objectives may need changing in order to align with government decarbonisation aspirations and the achievement of targets.
  5. There is a lack of consensus on whether and how market models might need to adapt.
  6. Detailed stakeholder analysis – and in particular customer attitudes – will be required.
  7. There are a range of important technical issues including standardisation, data quality and transparency, verification and certification to be considered.
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Latest Publications by Chris N Le Fevre