The deadly impact of BP’s oilfield gas flaring in Iraq
An investigative documentary for BBC News Arabic found the Rumaila oilfield in southern Iraq to be a sacrifice zone due to the huge levels of illegal gas flaring that BP and its partners have routinely carried out for more than a decade. Ali Hussein Jaloud, a 21-year-old local resident, died from leukemia just days before he was due to challenge BP’s CEO on why the company continues to poison his neighborhood with cancer-causing pollution, writes Jess Kelly in The Guardian.
European Investment Bank: democratic deficit fuels funding for corporate polluters and profiteers
Despite ending its direct support for oil and gas projects in 2021, the EU’s publicly owned lending arm is still channeling billions of euros to companies and commercial banks involved in expanding fossil fuels, write Frank Vanaerschot and Paul Creeney of Counter Balance in Social Europe.
The future of Qatar's LNG contracts
With LNG export capacity controlled by Qatar to almost double to 138 million tons per year by 2028, and much of it unsigned so far, the world's lowest-cost gas producer is set to become the most influential force on global prices in the years ahead. A shift to spot market selling by QatarEnergy could be disruptive for other major spot market producers such as the U.S., write Ira Joseph and Anne-Sophie Corbeau for Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
Dutch court issues construction ban on proposed North Sea gas drilling platform
The Court of Justice in The Hague has ruled in favor of a legal action brought last year by the city of Borkum alongside Dutch and German NGOs to prevent the development of a €500 million (US$552 million) gas field project in the immediate vicinity of the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The litigants fear that Dutch company ONE-Dyas’s drilling plans, touted as the largest investment in gas development in the Netherlands in the past 15 years, would lead to the irreversible destruction of reefs and other ecosystems in a highly sensitive marine environment that is protected under European law. Concerns were raised by the Dutch groups over emissions of nitrogen that would accrue from the project. The construction ban takes place with immediate effect and until further notice, with a court decision on the approval for the gas drilling still pending. (Deutsche Umwelthilfe [German], Offshore Energy)
Campaigners hail U.S. Department of Transportation’s denial of “bomb train” permit
The Biden administration’s transportation department has denied a special permit sought by New Fortress Energy to run up to 200 LNG “bomb train” cars daily along a 200-mile route from shale fields in northeast Pennsylvania, through Philadelphia and other densely populated areas, to the not-yet-built Gibbstown LNG export terminal in New Jersey. A coalition of organizations, including frontline residents, that have worked since 2019 to end the authorization for transporting LNG by rail to the proposed project, expressed confidence that the decision was a major blow to the Gibbstown terminal’s prospects. (Stop LNG by Rail Network, Trains.com)
INEOS sponsorship deal canceled by leading UK cinema chain
Following pressure from filmmakers, campaigners, and audiences, the Picturehouse cinema group confirmed it has ditched a partnership — started only in November last year — with the UK-based oil, gas, and petrochemical giant INEOS. “A corporation such as INEOS should have no place in the provision of the arts in the UK,” commented James Marriott from the art, activism, and research organization Platform, and the executive producer of documentary film The Oil Machine. “The long campaigns against Shell, BP and others have revealed that oil and gas companies must cease using culture and science institutions as billboards to promote their brands.” (Culture Unstained, The Oil Machine)
Accelerated European gas phase-out is achievable with less reliance on hydrogen than planned – report: Drawing on a detailed transition pathway out of gas consumption for the industrial, buildings, and energy sectors, a new report from think tank Agora Energiewende finds that the EU can halve its gas use by 2030 — and end it entirely by 2050 — without relying on green hydrogen or forcing the European public to endure disruptive behavioral changes. By 2040, the Agora analysis sets out, the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions could drop 90% against a 1990 baseline if structural gas demand reduction measures are ramped up. Proposed focus measures include the insulation of buildings, electrifying the heating and industrial sectors, and installing 80 million heat pumps by 2040. The report comes as the EU is seeking to increase its use of green hydrogen under its REPowerEU targets for 2030. However, the think tank warns that an over-reliance on hydrogen could slow down the transition to renewable energy and prolong dependence on fossil fuels. (Agora Energiewende [Pdf], Agora Energiewende [YouTube])
Eni denies that it contributed to or profited from Pakistan’s energy crisis: An investigation by the non-profit groups ReCommon and SourceMaterial has uncovered evidence to suggest that the Italian energy major Eni earned around US$550 million by canceling and then reselling LNG shipments that had been contracted to a Pakistani buyer. Between late 2021 and early 2023, and with spot LNG prices skyrocketing, Eni’s LNG ships “abruptly stopped going to Pakistan and headed to Turkey instead,” the groups’ report says. This contributed to a dire energy shortage situation in Pakistan, which has seen regular blackouts and a worsening economic crisis. Eni told SourceMaterial that it had not profited from defaulting on obligations to Pakistan LNG Limited and that the undelivered cargoes to the state-owned energy company “were caused either by events of force majeure affecting the relevant LNG suppliers or by disruptions affecting the LNG supply chain.” “Fossil fuel companies such as Eni want us to believe they are contributing to energy security,” said ReCommon’s Alessandro Runci. “This investigation shows how their only goal is to secure their own profits at any cost.” (SourceMaterial, Bloomberg [Paywall])
Thirty Canadian lawmakers linked to oil and gas investments over CA$10,000: A joint investigation by The Narwhal and the Investigative Journalism Foundation has revealed a trend of investment ties between Canadian lawmakers, or their families, and the oil and gas industry. The media groups drew a distinction between government ministers who are not allowed to personally hold shares in public companies, although their spouses can do so, and members of Canada’s federal parliament who are permitted in the main to hold such assets under the parliament’s conflict of interest code. A total of 30 federal lawmakers — or their spouses — from across the political spectrum were found to have held substantial investments in oil and gas companies including Enbridge, Suncor, and TC Energy between 2020 and 2022, as listed in parliamentary ethics disclosures required for holdings worth over CA$10,000 (US$7,360). Six ministers have disclosed oil and gas stocks held by their spouses, including Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson (Enbridge and Shell listed). Four out of the 12-member natural resources parliamentary committee have also listed oil and gas stocks in their disclosures. (The Narwhal)
New York passes first U.S. state law banning gas in new buildings: As part of its landmark law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050, and in a major victory for climate advocates, New York state legislators have approved a ban on gas and other fossil fuels in most new homes and other construction. The ban, which will apply to buildings under seven stories high by 2026 and to taller buildings by 2029, is however expected to face legal challenges from the gas industry and business groups. Local governments that pass gas bans “should prepare for litigation because the natural gas industry is fighting for its life,” said Carra Sahler, staff attorney at Lewis & Clark Law School’s Green Energy Institute in Portland, Oregon. (The Washington Post, Utility Dive)
Rhetoric, opposition, and confusion intensifies over German island terminal plans: Amid mounting opposition to LNG development plans on or near the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea, Berlin has opted to push concerns over energy security to the limit. According to press reports, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has moved to justify a doubling of LNG import capacity at Rügen — via potentially three floating terminals — as a safeguard against the risk of acts of sabotage hitting a key underwater pipeline that supplies gas to Germany from Norway. RWE was also forced to clarify media reports that it had withdrawn from Berlin’s preferred siting for a new terminal at the Mukran port on Rügen. The German utility confirmed that it would be involved in the proposed project as “a service provider for the German government” but would not operate the facility on a permanent basis. The German title Nordkurier also reports on the growing uncertainty over the location of the island terminal, with local opposition standing firm and the local state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania developing cold feet. The paper suggests that the original plan to have a Rügen terminal up and running for the 2023-24 winter heating season now seems unlikely. (Financial Post, Bloomberg [Paywall], Nordkurier [German])
Australia: Shell has signed a deal with BP to sell its 27% stake in the struggling, Woodside-led Browse project, the country’s largest untapped gas resource.
Mexico: President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that the Texas-based company Mexico Pacific is poised to build a pipeline and LNG export terminal in the northern state of Sonora. The investment is valued at up to US$14 billion.
Nigeria: State oil firm NNPC signed an initial agreement with Norway’s Golar LNG to build a floating LNG plant in the country.
Russia: With production at the massive Arctic LNG 2 export terminal in Siberia due to start by the end of this year, the scheduled delivery of gas carriers for the project is reported to have been delayed by one year.
Russia: Reuters calculates that Gazprom’s daily pipeline gas exports to Europe rose by roughly 7.5% between March and April, mostly as a result of increased transit via Türkiye.
South Korea: In response to market demand for faster delivery times and more economical floating LNG terminal types, Samsung Heavy Industries has received an approval in principle from shipping classification society DNV for its “multi-purpose LNG floater-nearshore” concept.
Turkmenistan: At a recent bilateral meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the “super-emitter” Caspian state to cut methane emissions from its oil and gas sector in order to combat the climate crisis.
United Arab Emirates: State energy company Adnoc has signed a US$1 billion deal to supply TotalEnergies with undisclosed volumes of LNG for the next three years.
UK: As gas network operators continue to lobby for the use of hydrogen for heating, deep uncertainty continues over the feasibility of safely repurposing existing gas pipeline infrastructure to carry 100% hydrogen.
TotalEnergies lawsuit attempts to muzzle Greenpeace, group occupies Fluxys LNG terminal with “Gas kills” banners: TotalEnergies has sued Greenpeace France and climate consulting firm Factor-X over a report published last November that estimated the French energy firm had underreported its greenhouse gas emissions in 2109 by a factor of 3.6. The campaign group maintains that the methodology used in the report, now the subject of TotalEnergies’ first ever Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) against a French NGO, is fully transparent and accessible. Controversial SLAPP suits are a common practice among U.S. oil and gas majors aimed at silencing and financially crippling citizens, journalists, and non-profit groups. A first procedural hearing is due to take place on September 7 in Paris. Fourteen Greenpeace activists were also detained by Belgian police for 48 hours this weekend after they nonviolently occupied the high-traffic, Fluxys-owned Zeebrugge LNG import terminal for six hours and displayed banners reading “Gas kills.” The organization said it was calling for an immediate end to the development of gas contracts and infrastructure in Europe and the U.S., and for a European plan to phase out gas by 2035. (Reuters, Greenpeace [French], The Guardian)
Investigation exposes private equity giant’s massive, previously hidden climate impact: A new report from the Private Equity Climate Risks Project has revealed how the Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest private equity firms with US$373 billion in assets under management (AUM), has made billions of dollars of fossil fuel investments over the past decade despite pledging to become a leader in the fight against climate change. Analysis from the research project, which provides previously unavailable data to investors and the public, details how Carlyle is exacerbating the global climate crisis. It found that, by the end of 2022, the private equity giant had U$22.4 billion invested in carbon-based energy and only US$1.4 billion in renewables, less than 1% of its AUM. Identifying Carlyle as one of the largest owners of gas plants in the United States via its portfolio companies, Global Energy Monitor’s Alex Hurley, one of the report’s authors, commented: “It was shocking to review the number of pollution-related violations recorded by the Environmental Protection Agency for the Carlyle power plant fleet, many of which are located steps away from low-income communities and communities of color who bear that impact.” (Private Equity Climate Risks Project, The Guardian)
World’s top LNG buyer Jera sees risk of further market volatility this year: A lucky winter, which saw warmer than expected weather alongside pandemic restrictions in China, has resulted in a sharp decline in North Asian spot LNG prices since the turn of the year. That’s the view of Yukio Kani, chairman and CEO of Jera, Japan’s top utility, which has just signed a 20-year LNG supply deal with U.S. exporter Venture Global LNG. This third long-term U.S. deal signed by a Japanese company since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is for 1 million tonnes of LNG per year from Venture Global’s proposed US$10 billion CP2 LNG terminal that is yet to receive federal permitting but is slated to come online after 2026. A cold winter, combined with probable stiffer competition for cargoes from Europe and China this year, could see another price spike, Kani warned. (Bloomberg, LNG Prime)
Ukraine’s Naftogaz boosts production, USAID to send more funds for energy security during war: UkrGasVydobuvannya, a subsidiary of state-owned Naftogaz, says it has added more more than 300,000 cubic meters of gas to the company’s daily production in the last month by bringing online two production wells at one of the largest gas fields in Ukraine. The fracking technique was involved, according to a company press release, and CEO Oleksiy Chernyshov said that a further 10 production wells were being drilled and developed at the field in addition to five new exploration wells. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has also pledged an additional US$25 million to the Ukraine Energy Support Fund, managed by the Energy Community Secretariat, to go towards the purchase of “urgently needed” equipment for the energy and heating sector, and to assist with preparations for the upcoming winter season. (Naftogaz Group, Energy Community)
Romania passes pro-pipeline legislation as Transgaz and E.ON team up to expand infrastructure: The government in Bucharest has passed new laws to support the development of the Timișoara-Deta-Denta-Moravița gas pipeline and the Black Sea Pipeline-Podișor project. The former, now officially classed as a project of “national importance,” is intended to support the switch to gas-based heating systems for homes and industry away from the use of solid fuels, wood, and oil. The supplementary legislation for the more high-profile, 308 kilometer Black Sea pipe relates to agricultural land located outside city areas that will be affected by the project. National transmission system operator Transgaz and E.ON Romania, meanwhile, have signaled their intent to align their respective development strategies — involving the consolidation and extension of gas infrastructure as well as the repurposing of pipelines to carry hydrogen — with the aims of the European Green Deal and EU legislation. (CEENERGYNEWS, CEENERGYNEWS)
Executives rake in greenhouse gas reduction bonuses as Southern Company’s gas plant fleet grows: A complex incentive scheme, introduced in 2019 by one of the U.S.’s largest carbon-emitting utilities — Southern Company — to reward its top staff for cutting operational carbon emissions, has continued to pay out for executives even as the company added almost 5,000 megawatts of gas plants to its fleet since the bonus scheme’s inception. Analysis by the Energy and Policy Institute, a U.S. watchdog organization, points out that last year the company’s CEO Tom Fanning took home a US$1.66 million greenhouse gas reduction bonus, or 6.8 percent of his total compensation in 2022, in spite of the striking recent growth in Southern’s gas plant fleet. At the company’s annual meeting later this month, a vote will take place on a shareholder proposal to require Southern to issue short-term and long-term targets aligned with the Paris Agreement goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Southern is opposing the resolution although it has claimed it is pursuing net zero by 2050. (Energy and Policy Institute)
LNG Edge: Q1 2023 Trade Flow Report, ICIS, April 24, 2023. (Pdf)
This 17-page report provides a breakdown of global LNG trade flows (exports and imports) showing year-on-year increases during January to March 2023 and warns of the significant challenge faced by consumers going forward as a result of persistently elevated price levels.
Clean Heat, CEE Bankwatch Network, April 27, 2023.
This 16-minute short documentary film presents how two cities in Hungary and Latvia are ditching gas by using EU funds to power their district heating systems with renewables.