January 19, 2023
Issue 28  |  View Past Issues
Inside Gas
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

As the destructive impacts of methane become more widely known, gas industry influence peddling is cranking up and becoming more egregious. Dark money groups have succeeded in influencing legislators in the U.S. state of Ohio to redefine gas as a source of green energy and are training their sights on other states. It has also been revealed that it takes only a couple of hundred thousand pounds to penetrate the corridors of power in the UK in order to boost the prospects of blue hydrogen, one of the industry’s main lifelines. Campaigners are challenging the more public-facing side of these efforts — greenwashing — as General Electric prepares to rebrand its energy portfolio under a “new green” corporate banner. 

The panic over European gas supply security is — ironically, notes a top energy company official — over for now. But the European Commission has provided data on the spectacular financial costs involved. The wider impacts of gas price inflation continue to rack up. A systemic risk to South Korea’s economy has been avoided thanks to the approval of exceptional funding measures to protect state-owned utility KEPCO after its gas and coal import dependency was exposed last year. In Australia, fresh from a legal humbling by traditional owners last year, Santos is facing more of the same over its plans to drill agricultural land in New South Wales. 

Grieg Aitken


“Somebody has to be held responsible” – Coastal GasLink construction violations mount

This month’s latest allegations of failures to prevent sediment from entering a Wet’suwet’en river rich in salmon during construction of TC Energy’s CA$11.2 billion gas pipeline in British Columbia follow a range of provincial compliance breaches over the last two years, writes Matt Simmons in The Narwhal.

How the gas industry bought blue hydrogen political influence in the UK

Shell, Equinor, and other industry players have paid more than £250,000 to a lobbying firm to set up and run a Westminster parliamentary group that has repeatedly lobbied the UK government to support blue hydrogen, writes Ben Webster for openDemocracy.

“Now you're cookin’ the climate with gas”

The culture war over gas stoves has been stoked by the gas industry for decades, and now its paid-off influencers and politicians are at boiling point as the science points out a few inconvenient and troubling facts, writes Emily Atkin in Heated.


General Electric lining up a “new green” makeover despite 25,000 megawatts of proposed gas power projects in Asia 

The U.S. energy giant is aiming to spin off its power, renewables, and energy financial services activities into a new entity — GE Vernova — in 2024. Yet despite the rebrand and the company’s Net Zero by 2050 goals, GE is reportedly involved in a string of proposed LNG to power projects in Vietnam and Bangladesh, which would likely operate to 2050 and beyond. Australian campaign group Market Forces is calling out this greenwashing and pushing GE to dump these plans for new gas projects before it finishes creating Vernova. (Market Forces, Market Forces)

The Gas Graph

(Bruegel’s European natural gas demand tracker estimates that EU gas demand in 2022 — not including storage filling — was 12% lower than the average from the period 2019 to 2021, with 2% and 15% drops in the power sector and industry/households respectively driving the change.)

Top News

Traditional owners mount legal challenge against Narrabri gas project: Following a disputed permitting approval in December by the National Native Title Tribunal for Santos’ A$3.6 billion (US$2.5 billion) Narrabri coal-seam gas project, Gomeroi traditional owners in New South Wales have filed a last-minute appeal against the decision with Australia’s Federal Court, which is likely to further delay the project. The tribunal had ruled that the public benefit of the project outweighed traditional owners’ concerns that it would damage their culture, land, and waters and contribute to climate change. The project, which would involve the drilling of 850 wells across agricultural land in Pilliga Forest, has also received approval from the New South Wales Government despite overwhelming opposition from the local community, traditional owners, and farmers. Gomeroi woman Sue-Ellen Tighe said, “I have more faith in the Federal Court system than I have in the National Native Title Tribunal.” (ABC News, Reuters)

Looming finance gap for decommissioning warns ratings agency: As the decommissioning of oil and gas assets scales up in the energy transition, Sustainable Fitch has warned, “in jurisdictions with underdeveloped regulatory regimes, there is a risk that some, or even all, of the clean-up costs will fall on taxpayers.” Noting that more than US$50 billion will be needed to retire the UK’s North Sea installations, the rating agency’s ESG unit points out in a new report that the burden is likely to fall most severely on emerging market economies. Estimates suggest that, by 2038, 1,000 offshore structures in the Arabian Gulf will face retirement, alongside 700 in Latin America and 500 in West Africa. The problem is magnified in some of these territories as efforts to lure foreign investments have often resulted in regulatory gaps for “for managing — and assigning — liabilities for decommissioning.” The issuing of tailored sustainable bonds could help to plug the financing gap, Fitch suggested. (Sustainable Fitch, Energy Voice)

EU gas import bill up 249% in third quarter last year: A 2% year-on-year rise in the EU’s net gas imports between July and September last year required an estimated outlay of €101 billion (US$109 billion), the highest in the last decade, according to the European Commission’s latest gas market statistics for the bloc. The drastic rise in gas prices last summer drove the 249% year-on-year increase as compared to the €29 billion spent in the third quarter of 2021. A likely contributory factor in the historic EU gas price spike, as revealed by Argus, was an unprecedented — and unhedged — gas buying spree over the summer mandated by the German government. As EU gas prices have recently dropped dramatically, withdrawals of the injected gas by the German gas market area manager THE will involve substantial trading losses, which, Argus noted, “will be passed on to German customers through a gas storage levy introduced for this purpose.” The European Commission is also pushing forward with plans for EU member states to start jointly buying gas before this summer, although some large energy firms have expressed doubts that the initiative will result in lower prices. (European Commission, Argus Media, Reuters)

Federal officials backpedal on Permian air pollution crackdown: Oil and gas industry pushback in West Texas and New Mexico has succeeded in derailing a proposed move from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue an “ozone nonattainment designation” for fields in the Permian Basin. Rising ozone levels in the Permian, from emissions of both hydrocarbons linked to oil and gas wells and nitrogen oxides from the fleets of trucks and compressor engines used in fracking, have been captured by satellite imagery and are causing poor air quality — and air quality violations — across the region. “People’s health is being harmed as we speak,” said Kayley Shoup, a member of the local Carlsbad organization Citizens Caring for the Future. “But the federal government is saying let’s just put this off.” (Inside Climate News)

Shipping liquefied hydrogen doesn’t add up – IEA: A new study by the International Energy Agency has laid out costings showing that, by the end of the decade, shipping hydrogen long distances in the form of ammonia or “liquid organic hydrogen carrier” and converting it back to hydrogen at its destination is likely to be cheaper than shipping liquefied hydrogen. Long-distance pipelines — up to 2,000-2,500 in length — would be even lower cost for shipping compressed hydrogen, finds the IEA. In what is the third green hydrogen import terminal project announced for development at the German port of Wilhelmshaven, BP has announced it is planning to start importing green ammonia by 2028 and converting it back to hydrogen using an industrial cracker. (Hydrogen Insight, Hydrogen Insight)

Dark money turns gas “green” in Ohio: Documents obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI), a U.S. watchdog organization, have revealed that so-called dark money groups with ties to the gas industry successfully influenced recently passed legislation in the state of Ohio that redefines gas as a source of “green energy.” The groups involved, the Empowerment Alliance and the American Legislative Exchange Council, waged their influence campaign on Ohio’s Republican senators over at least the last six months, according to emails obtained under a public records request. EPI’s Dave Anderson said that the Ohio case “was the first step of a plan to introduce similar legislation in multiple states,” with the Empowerment Alliance now publicly targeting Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. (The Washington Post)

“It is both troubling and ironic that only unseasonable winter temperatures triggered by climate change have saved large parts of the northern hemisphere from much more severe threats to energy security and affordability,”

said Ignacio Galan, executive chairman of Spain’s largest utility Iberdrola.


Egypt: Eni and Chevron announced a “significant new gas discovery” at the Nargis-1 exploration well in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

India: Oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri has indicated that Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and TotalEnergies are interested in investing in the country’s oil and gas exploration and production sector.

Iraq: Germany has held high-level talks with Iraq for potential gas imports as it continues efforts to wean itself off Russian supplies. 

Israel: Chevron has begun a bidding process with three Asian shipyards for engineering studies on a potential 5 million tonnes per annum floating LNG vessel to boost production at the vast Leviathan field. 

Lithuania: Full capacity has been restored on a gas pipeline that exploded close to the Latvian border as a result of what is thought to have been a technical malfunction. 

Nigeria: Up to ten shipments from the Nigeria LNG export terminal have been canceled following damage to gas pipelines caused by vandalism.

Pakistan: In order to avoid a looming sovereign default, two state-owned LNG power plants with a combined generation capacity of 2,560 megawatts are expected to be sold to Qatar in an estimated US$1.5 billion deal.

Russia: Wintershall Dea announced that it will exit Russia, which requires a write off of its various gas-related  activities in the country.

Russia: Moscow has approved a capacity increase from 660,000 tonnes to 895,000 tonnes per annum at Novatek’s Vysotsk LNG export terminal with a view to boosting cargoes from the Baltic Sea project to Europe.

UK: The Court of Appeal has ruled that UK Export Finance’s US$1.15 billion funding of the Mozambique LNG is lawful and dismissed an appeal by Friends of the Earth following an earlier lower court judgment.

UK: The North Sea Transition Authority said that Britain’s first oil and gas exploration licensing round since 2019 attracted 115 bids (up from 104 in the last round) from 76 companies.

U.S.: Environmental scientists are calling on the Biden administration to introduce restrictions on oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico to protect the newly discovered and highly endangered Rice’s whale species.

U.S.: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved – though gave landowners 30 days to appeal – a plan to expand the Transcontinental gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland despite a report from New Jersey regulators finding there was no need for the expansion. 

Companies + Markets

LNG and coal import dependency now an existential threat for KEPCO: As a result of its reliance on expensive LNG and coal imports, South Korea’s state-owned power utility KEPCO is expected to have made a net loss of 30 trillion won (US$24 billion) in 2022. The company’s financial position has forced a 9.5% jump in consumer electricity prices as well as a rise in KEPCO’s debt ceiling — approved by the national assembly after the company warned of a systemic risk to the economy — to a maximum of six times its equity, up from a previous ratio of two to one. South Korea’s bond market has been under pressure following KEPCO’s issuing of US$17 billion in bonds last year to cover losses, which market observers believe is no longer a sustainable approach. “KEPCO is extremely vulnerable to fossil fuel price volatility and with the government it has to grasp that this is not a simple credit crunch but rather a fundamental challenge to its fossil dependent business model,” said Sejong Youn, director of the Seoul-based non-profit Plan 1.5. “KEPCO has to start focusing on increasing its renewable power base which currently only makes up 7% of the total power mix.” (The Financial Times)

CNOOC outlines gas expansion strategy: State-controlled China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) is planning to significantly boost the share of gas in its portfolio under a 2023 strategy targeting both offshore and unconventional onshore developments. Domestically, five key projects will be developed including the Baodao 21-1 field in the South China Sea and coal-seam methane drilling in the onshore Ordos basin in northern China. Along with an expanded oil business, CNOOC is aiming for an 8% increase in its production target this year to 650–660 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), with the longer-term aim of 6% average annual production growth by 2025. (LNG Journal, Reuters)

Eyebrows raised in South Africa over eleventh hour changes to Karpowership’s risk assessment: Ahead of consideration by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs in the coming weeks, last-minute changes to the revised environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Karpowership’s three proposed floating gas power plants in the ports of Richards Bay, Ngqura, and Saldanha Bay have come to light. Expected noise impacts from the vessels have dropped “dramatically,” according to South African NGOs, while the risk of gas explosions has been given more weight by the EIA consultant. This eleventh hour addition is thought to have been driven by heightened public concerns following the recent explosion of an LPG tanker near Johannesburg in which 37 people were killed. The South African authorities rejected the first EIA from the Turkish company in 2021. (Daily Maverick)

Trudeau non-committal as Japan courts Canada for LNG: “We didn’t get any concrete commitment,” was the conclusion of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida following meetings last week in Ottawa with his counterpart Justin Trudeau. The Japanese delegation had been hoping to cement LNG trade deals with Canada as part of efforts to replace the ten percent of Japan’s gas supply that currently comes from Russia. Trudeau drew strong criticism from the gas industry following his post-meeting comments: “We know that being a reliable supplier of energy is important. But even as we talk about things like LNG and traditional sources of energy, we know the world is moving aggressively and meaningfully towards decarbonizing.” Ahead of a federal trade mission to Japan this autumn, industry pressure to realize Canada’s export potential is likely to build in spite of the country’s emissions-reduction targets. (National Post, Calgary Herald)

Russian LNG still essential for Western Europe: Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection calculates that Russian LNG import volumes last year into the ports of Belgium, France, and the Netherlands — neighboring countries from which Germany bought gas — were 2.8 billion cubic meters (bcm), 6.9 bcm, and 2.3 bcm, respectively. The disclosure followed a freedom of information request from German energy campaigner and consultant Andy Gheorghiu. The ministry was unable to provide information on the level of emissions from the gas imported into Germany via the neighboring countries’ LNG terminals or on the extent to which Russian LNG would be indirectly delivered to Germany from 2023. Data from Enagás also show that Russian LNG deliveries to Spain rose by 45% last year to 5.43 bcm. (Ask the State (German), EnergieZukunft (German), The Corner)

New LNG tanker orders surged in 2022: Data from Refinitiv show that new contracts for building LNG tankers climbed more than 100% last year to a record high of 163, with the expansion of Qatar’s massive North Field project by 2027 a key driver behind the surge in orders. South Korean shipbuilders, the industry leaders, pulled in 105 orders, followed by Chinese shipyards with 57. China’s rising role in LNG shipbuilding comes as South Korean companies face challenges to manage the unprecedented levels of demand due to limits on construction capacity, high steel prices, and labor shortages. (The Financial Times)

“If the world goes crazy on gas in the next 10 years, we’re in trouble,”

said John Kerry, the U.S. government’s climate envoy, while also telling an Atlantic Council event in Abu Dhabi that gas with carbon capture and storage “is clearly part of the transitional effort.”


Mexico’s expanding role in global LNG markets, S&P Global, December 2022.

This 4-page analysis provides details on the infrastructure and contracting challenges in play as LNG developers seek to boost Mexico’s role in supplying global markets with LNG derived from U.S. gas.

Throwing fuel on the Fire: GFANZ financing of fossil fuel expansion, Reclaim Finance, January 2022. (Pdf)

This 33-page report finds that since joining the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, 56 of the biggest banks involved have provided US$270 billion to 102 companies developing major fossil fuel expansion projects.