Is shipping LNG by rail safe?
Last month’s derailment of a train carrying hazardous substances in the U.S. state of Ohio, causing the evacuation of thousands and likely long-term toxic contamination, has brought the issue of trains carrying gas into focus. All the more so as a Trump administration rule permitting such transportation is attracting heated political debate, writes Shelby Webb in E&E News.
Japan at it again with a “green transformation” strategy that would derail the energy transition in Asia
Tokyo’s new US$1.1 trillion “GX” strategy threatens to foist even more LNG, CCS, and other false decarbonization solutions on countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, write Dwi Sawung and Gerry Arances in Climate Home News.
CCS lifeline dominates industry shindig in Texas
Carbon capture was front and center at this year’s CERAWeek in Houston, with executives openly expressing their hopes it will give the oil and gas industry a license to operate/pollute for eighty more years. A number of CCS deals were announced at the conference, and here comes “direct air capture” too, writes Ed Reed in Energy Voice.
Gas industry to G7 — back gas, LNG expansion for energy security and climate goals: Following a meeting between industry leaders and representatives from G7 nations on the sidelines of the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas, a letter has emerged from an international coalition of major fossil fuel industry bodies urging the G7 to forge ways to boost public and private financing for the expansion of the entire gas supply chain. The groups behind the letter, including the American Petroleum Institute, claim that significant boosts in investment are necessary “to ensure sufficient development and availability of non-Russian supplies, while ensuring consistency with long-term climate objectives.” The Japanese government, which will host a G7 ministerial meeting in April and a full summit in May, is set to prioritize LNG as a transition fuel as a topic at the meetings, according to a senior official at the economic and trade ministry. Discussion of carbon capture and storage and the use of gas as a feedstock for producing hydrogen and ammonia will also be featured. (S&P Global)
Risky restart of Mozambique LNG project appears to be in motion: Saipem has agreed to restart a major LNG project in Mozambique for TotalEnergies this coming July, according to the chief executive of the Italian energy services group. The project, which would be the first onshore development of an LNG plant in the African country, was frozen in 2021 due to security issues. Total had previously indicated that it would wait for a human rights assessment commissioned by Jean-Christophe Rufin, an expert in humanitarian action and human rights, before announcing any restart of the project. Lorette Philippot, campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, said it was not possible that the negative social and environmental consequences of the project would be solved by the summer. “The situation on the ground is critical: the gas industry has been central to the brutal conflict that has created 1 million internal refugees,” Philippot said. Information company Energy Intelligence also warned that the threat of insurgency in the country “has not disappeared,” and forecast that the US$20 billion project will commence operations “in 2027, at the very earliest.” (Reuters, Bloomberg, Energy Intelligence)
Lawmakers urge Biden administration to permanently ban rail shipments of LNG: Members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation are urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to permanently ban shipments of LNG by rail, arguing that a plan to ship the highly explosive fuel through their districts to a proposed export terminal in New Jersey poses the risk of “catastrophic impacts.” The plan, devised by the American gas investment company New Fortress Energy, involves shipping LNG from a proposed liquefaction terminal in Pennsylvania to a former munitions manufacturing site in New Jersey by trains and trucks along a 175-mile route through densely populated areas. In November 2021, the Biden administration suspended gas shipments by rail, temporarily reversing a 2020 decision by the Trump administration to permit the practice. A decision by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on whether to make that ban permanent is expected later this month. (Inside Climate News)
Philippines, Vietnam to import LNG, but long-term doubts loom: Philippines and Vietnam will soon be LNG importers, as the first — and long-delayed — import terminals in the countries near completion. Both currently rely on coal as the main source of cheap energy for industrial needs, but mounting pressure to decarbonize led them to look to gas as a less harmful alternative. Some analysts are warning, however, that the new LNG facilities will be underutilized since both countries are placing a greater emphasis on renewable energy sources and neither has been able to lock in long-term purchase agreements for gas that would ensure price stability. The Philippines government has been forecasting gas consumption to rise up to twelvefold by 2040, and has been preparing for imports by pushing forward with several other terminal projects in the works. Similarly, Vietnam is also anticipating the construction of future terminals, though the International Energy Agency said in December that solar and wind are “rapidly becoming more competitive.” Moreover, according to a December report by the energy analyst agency Wood Mackenzie, countries in the region are currently reassessing the long-term role of gas in their energy mix. (Nikkei [paywall])
India’s delayed LNG terminals are impeding Modi’s gas goal: Several proposed LNG import projects in India are facing delays, reports Bloomberg. Two floating import terminals missed commissioning targets last year after LNG prices skyrocketed, reducing demand and disrupting import plans. Neither plant is now expected to start before 2025, according to Ayush Agarwal, an analyst with S&P Global. The delays will make it more difficult for India to reach its goal of increasing the share of gas in its energy mix from 6% to 15% by 2030, as the country seeks to lower its dependence on oil and coal, which are perceived as dirtier fuels, though LNG is equally dirty. (Bloomberg [paywall])
Leaked emails reveal major industry lobbying drive against EU gas boiler phaseout: Ahead of a key vote next week in the European parliament on proposed changes to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, leaked emails have revealed intensive lobbying efforts from the European gas industry aimed at hindering proposals that seek to encourage the phaseout of gas boilers from homes. Leading the lobbying charge in recent months, according to the investigative news outlet DeSmog, has been Liquid Gas Europe, a trade organization representing the liquid petroleum gas (LPG) industry. Use of LPG, a highly carbon-intensive fuel, is particularly concentrated among rural communities, whose interests Liquid Gas Europe says it is defending, even if heat pumps and rooftop solar already offer viable, cleaner, long-term alternatives. Silvia Pastorelli of Greenpeace EU commented: “The gas lobby is only really trying to protect its own bottom line, when it fakes concern for rural communities, and exploits people’s genuine fears about energy poverty.” (The Guardian, DeSmog)
Argentina: The government is expected to send draft legislation promoting LNG to Congress in the coming week.
Brazil: Petrobas is planning to double the amount of gas available to the domestic market in the next five years, including through the commissioning of the delayed GasLub gas-processing plant in early 2024.
China: Gas imports, including pipeline gas and LNG, fell 9.4% year-on-year in January-February 2023.
France: Strike action has led to the closure of the country’s four LNG import terminals until March 14.
Mexico: Pemex has continued flaring at the Ixachi gas field despite a pledge, following growing environmental pressure, to stop doing so by mid-January.
Papua New Guinea: TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, and Santos have begun fully-integrated front-end engineering and design (FEED) for the Papua LNG project and intend to explore project finance opportunities for a portion of the estimated US$13 billion project costs.
Romania: Iraqi firm Mass Group Holding has laid out Є1 billion investment plans to convert the Mintia coal plant into a 1500 megawatt (MW) facility running on gas and hydrogen.
Tanzania: Negotiations between the government, Equinor, and Shell for the US$30 billion Tanzania LNG export terminal have been concluded with a final investment decision now being aimed for in 2025.
Thailand: Operations have started at the 7.5 million tonnes per year Nong Fab LNG import terminal in Rayong province.
U.S.: Freeport LNG has received regulator approval to return to service the last of its three gas liquefaction units and facilities in Texas following an explosion last June.
RWE unperturbed by Germany’s massive LNG overcapacity situation: Risking criticism that it and other major German energy players are content to hoover up state funding support for unnecessary new LNG import capacity, RWE boss Markus Krebber has acknowledged that underutilization of the country’s remarkable array of new terminals in development is likely but should be thought of as “an insurance premium.” Krebber’s comments to Reuters did not appear to specify for whom this insurance premium would be. Latest analysis indicates that nine of Germany’s planned new LNG terminals would run at below 50% capacity by 2030 if the government’s longer term climate and energy saving policies are implemented. Berlin’s most recent counter to accusations of poor — and vastly inflated — import infrastructure planning is that it is necessary to guard against the risk of accidents, sabotage, or other external events. (Reuters, European Gas Hub, Clean Energy Wire)
“Mad rush” for gas exploitation in Guyana: “We believe gas must be monetized,” Guyana’s Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has told Reuters of the South American country’s ambitions to develop its mostly untapped natural gas reserves. “We are in a mad rush to get this done before net-zero comes,” Jagdeo said of efforts underway in tandem to auction Guyana’s remaining offshore oil exploration blocks, which are attracting attention from major companies including Shell, Petrobras, and Chevron. ExxonMobil currently produces at the country’s Stabroek block, reinjecting the gas to maintain the pressure of producing oil wells. Fourteen untapped offshore gas blocks are thought to be up for grabs, with Guyana looking for potential partners to develop LNG exporting opportunities. (Reuters, Reuters)
3,000 MW Eskom gas plant gets highly dodgy regulatory approval: Amidst South Africa’s spiraling power sector crisis, national energy regulator Nesra has reversed a December 2022 decision and granted an initial approval for state-owned utility Eskom’s plans to develop a gas power station in Richards Bay north of Durban. The project is slated to be completed in 2028, and the u-turn from the regulator took place — abnormally — behind closed doors. South African NGOs have previously challenged the environmental authorization already issued for the project, asserting that the impact of the massive gas plant on climate change has not been properly assessed. (Moneyweb)
European gas bosses warn of “difficult” market for next two to three years: The CEOs of two of Europe’s biggest energy companies have confirmed widespread concerns that tight gas supply conditions are likely to prevail for at least the next two winters as the continent looks to swap its gas dependence on Russia with dependence on other sources. Speaking at the CERAWeek conference, Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Italy’s Eni, said that Europe’s supply difficulties would extend even into 2025. Anders Opedal, the head of Norway’s Equinor, which expanded its gas production by roughly 8% last year, similarly predicted more “uncertainty,” particularly with post-COVID lockdown Chinese demand expected to pick up this year. “It's only in 2026-2027 that we see new meaningful energy supplies from the U.S. and Qatar,” Opedal said. (Reuters, Reuters)
Türkiye’s gas trading hub aspirations start to take shape: Plans initiated at the end of last year in tandem with Russian president Vladimir Putin are now advancing through Türkiye’s parliament. The ruling AK party has presented draft legislation catering to both domestic gas market needs as well as measures aimed at developing a reliable, competitive market where domestic and foreign companies can trade natural gas and allow both state energy company BOTAS and private entities to import gas. (Reuters)
U.S. LNG exports projected to grow in 2023 and 2024 — U.S. EIA: High global demand for LNG, as the fossil fuel continues to displace pipeline gas exports from Russia to Europe, is likely to lead to an increase in U.S. export volumes over the next two years, according to the latest monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). For 2023, the agency forecasts an average of 12.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) exported from the country’s seven export terminals, a 14% (1.5 Bcf/d) increase compared with last year. 2024 export volumes are expected to increase by an additional 5% (0.7 Bcf/d), the EIA said. These projected boosts are further justified, believes the EIA, as the Freeport LNG restarts full operations after a 9-month outage and as three new export terminals are slated to come online before the end of 2024. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
“The amount of long-term [LNG] contracts dedicated to Europe have been very low, far below the level of Chinese long-term contracts, which means that we are not yet securing a significant share of the replacement gas we need to replace Russian gas,”
said Didier Holleaux, executive vice president of Engie, at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.
Global Gas Plant Tracker, Global Energy Monitor, March 1, 2023 (press release).
This half-yearly data update finds that global gas plant capacity in development has increased by 22% over the past year, with the leading five countries — China, Vietnam, Brazil, Bangladesh, and the U.S. — accounting for 45% of this potential gas power growth.
Fracking: Coming to your doorstep, Food & Water Action Europe and Gastivists, March 7, 2023.
This six-page briefing documents how the European Union’s turn towards U.S. imports in 2022 has so far resulted in one eighth of the bloc’s gas consumption comprising American fracked gas, with highly damaging implications for frontline communities and the climate.
Italy and its North African gas interconnections: A potential Mediterranean gas ‘hub’? The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, March 2023.
This seven-page briefing looks at the challenges and uncertainties lying behind the Italian government’s recent strenuous efforts to deepen energy trade ties with southern Mediterranean gas suppliers in North Africa.