August 25, 2022
Issue 10  |  View Past Issues
Inside Gas
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

A team of lawyers representing Australian energy firm Santos traveled against their wishes to a specially convened Federal Court on a beach in the Tiwi Islands to hear evidence from traditional owners of how they were not appropriately consulted over the company’s massive offshore Barossa gas project underway in the Timor Sea. The hearing is set to conclude in Darwin this week. Shell is estimated to have racked up $1.5 billion in production losses due to strike action at its LNG terminal in northern Australia. A pay dispute with unions has been settled after more than two months. 

Alarm continues all across Europe over the latest historic rises in gas and power prices. Senior politicians are describing an “out of control” energy market, with warnings that the pain for households and businesses is here to stay for five to ten years. A former senior executive at BP considers that nationalizations in the UK energy sector should be an option if companies continue to make outrageous profits while millions of consumers face the choice of heating or eating this winter. The French government has called for an investigation following revelations linking the fueling of Russian warplanes to a Siberian gas field jointly operated by TotalEnergies. 

Grieg Aitken


German gas needs cannot be allowed to violate inalienable Indigenous rights

If backroom deals on LNG exports and associated fracking emerge from Chancellor Olaf Scholz's visit to Canada, they will be strongly opposed, writes Ron Tremblay in Canada’s National Observer.

Former BP exec: gas-driven crisis is accentuating need for nationalizations

Decades of deregulation and muddled energy policy are now hammering the British public, writes Nick Butler in The Guardian.

“End of the world, end of the month, same fight!”

As moves to lock in billions of dollars of new hydrocarbon investments proliferate, public discontent can unite over ever worsening climate impacts and the cost of living crisis, which the fossil fuel incumbents are both driving and deriving mega profits from, writes Simon Pirani in Truthout.

Lukoil integral to EU security of supply efforts in the Caspian

Not only does the European Union’s latest gas deal with Azerbaijan contradict climate goals and human rights standards, it’s partly reliant on a Kremlin-aligned oil and gas company, writes Gligor Radečić in Politico


Eastern Europeans step up public actions on gas

Along with anti-gas protests and campaigner gatherings in western Europe this summer, activists in eastern Europe have shone a light on the long-term damage that will result from plans to  increase extraction and LNG imports. Gastivists Romania emblazoned a Romgaz building with an “It’s time to go” message, while calling for the company to stop new Black Sea gas projects and instead prepare a phasing out of production to meet climate targets. A similar projection stunt from Bombelki activists in Warsaw called out plans for a new floating LNG terminal in the Baltic Sea, pointing out industry deceptions over affordable new gas as Poles are increasingly hit by unaffordable gas bills. (Gastivists Romania, Artivist Network) 

Top News

Aboriginal elders testify against Santos and the Australian government at historic beachside court venue: A federal court case being brought against Santos’ A$4.7 billion (US$3.2 billion) Barossa offshore gas project by Munupi Senior Lawman Dennis Tipakalippa has heard initial evidence on the Tiwi Islands, about 80 kilometers north of Darwin, Australia. Barossa, the country’s biggest oil and gas investment in a decade, which is set to produce an estimated 15.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, received federal environmental approval to proceed in February, with preliminary drilling already underway in the Timor Sea. This despite Manupi women and male elders testifying that there had been inadequate environmental and cultural consultation with them from Santos. The case will continue to be heard in a Darwin court, with Santos alleging that it has “consulted with Traditional Owners on the Barossa Gas Project since 2016”. (ABC News, VICE Australia)

Investigation reveals TotalEnergies’ likely role in fueling Russian warplanes: A gas field in Siberia, co-owned by TotalEnergies and Russia’s Novatek, has been a vital source of fuel for two air bases housing fighter aircraft that are thought to have been involved in airstrikes on Ukraine in the past six months, according to a joint data investigation by Global Witness and France’s leading newspaper Le Monde. The French energy giant has controversially continued to hold a 49% stake in Terneftegaz, the gas condensate producer, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February. TotalEnergies said it was not involved in supply infrastructure to the military bases and that it had “no information on, or control over, Novatek's independent sales to the Russian market.” French Transport Minister Clément Beaune has called for an investigation into the matter. (Global Witness, Reuters, Politico)

Pipeline politics and activism heat up after U.S. climate spending package passes into law: Activists in the U.S. state of Virginia who’ve been fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) for eight years are vowing they won’t back down as a result of U.S. Senate Democrats reportedly agreeing to greenlight the US$6.6 billion gas project’s completion in order to secure the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which contains a US$369 billion climate spending commitment. A related battle is also shaping up in Washington D.C. over pledges given by his party to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to approve a separate bill in September aimed at slashing federal permitting for energy infrastructure projects. As part of a deal to receive Manchin’s backing for the IRA, the proposed permitting legislation would set timelines for environmental reviews of projects, alter the U.S. Clean Water Act, carve out statutes of limitations for lawsuits, and also approve the highly delayed MVP, which has received millions of dollars in penalties for water quality violations. Democratic lawmakers are pushing back on the proposed Manchin ‘bargain’ legislation, while the Biden administration and senior U.S. officials have reiterated their support for the proposed bill. More than 650 groups have written to the Democratic leadership opposing Senator Manchin’s Polluter Loophole Bill. (The Energy News Network, E&E News, The Washington Times, People vs. Fossil Fuels) 

New Canadian-German ‘Hydrogen Alliance’ begs questions: Following weeks of transatlantic activism opposing a widely expected LNG dealmaking mission to Canada by Olaf Scholz, an agreement has been signed in Canada between the German Chancellor and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “kickstart the hydrogen economy” with first deliveries from Canada aiming for 2025. The German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) hailed the new partnership as “an important milestone for future cooperation in the field of renewable energies,” but pointed to language in the agreement text that, DUH said, means that “Canada is keeping the door open to the production of fossil-based hydrogen.” Prior to the announcement of the hydrogen alliance, Canadian media reported comments from Trudeau that, for an LNG relationship with Germany to take root, Canada was prepared to ease regulatory hurdles, but that financing issues remained in play. (Government of Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada, National Post, Deutsche Umwelthilfe press release (German)) 

Unions and Shell agree to deal after $1.5 billion LNG production outage: Over 70 days of strike action brought by workers at Shell’s Prelude floating LNG terminal off the north coast of Australia are to end after the company and the Australian Workers’ Union and Electrical Trades Union announced they had reached an ‘in-principle’ agreement over a pay dispute. Shell was forced to stop production on its massive 3.6 million tonnes per annum export facility on July 11 and was not able to disclose how long it would take to restart operations post-deal. According to union officials, Shell has incurred approximately $1.5 billion in production losses since the dispute and shutdown began. (Reuters, Rigzone, LNG Prime)  

Bulgaria’s caretaker government signals possible shift back to Gazprom: Fueling growing concerns that EU unity on severing ties with Russian gas imports is wavering, the caretaker government in Sofia headed by Prime Minister Gulub Donev announced it will restart negotiations with Gazprom after agreeing to accept only one of seven tankers of U.S. LNG contracted by the previous government of Kiril Petkov. The interim government also intends to negotiate with Azerbaijan for increased supplies, an arrangement set up by Petkov in the last days of his government. Ahead of yet another general election scheduled for October 2, the fourth since April 2021, and as Bulgaria faces spiraling inflation, a war of words has broken out over the intentions of the caretaker government recently appointed by President Rumen Radev who is accused by his opponents of being pro-Russian. (Euractiv, Business New Europe) 
Croatia to tap EU funds for LNG capacity expansion: A €180 million (US$178 million) investment heavily reliant on European public money has been given the go-ahead by the Croatian government to more than double import capacity at the floating Krk LNG terminal in the Adriatic Sea. The expansion project includes the construction of a new pipeline from Zlobin to Bosiljevo, which will receive €155 million of the investment total. (Euractiv, LNG Prime)


“The next five to ten winters will be difficult,”

said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo on August 22 as European gas and power prices surged to record highs amid Russian supply cut fears.

Argentina: A contract tender for gas compressors associated with the first phase of the Vaca Muerta pipeline’s development has been launched by Energía Argentina. 

Czech Republic: Under recently enacted energy legislation, the government has seized unused gas storage capacity at the underground Dambořice facility, which is part-owned by Gazprom. 

France: A ban on fossil fuel advertising has been introduced under national climate law provisions, though gas advertising is still permitted until June 2023.

Ireland: A decision on the future of the Shannon LNG terminal in County Kerry is scheduled to be made in the coming weeks; however, there is speculation that a final verdict on the controversial project will drag on well beyond the intended September deadline.

Mozambique: The Southern African Development Community has extended its troop deployment in the Cabo Delgado province, close to major gas export projects that have been interrupted by an Islamic State-linked insurgency.   

Netherlands: Fears are growing among local communities that, despite major safety concerns, an expansion of drilling may be approved before the end of the year at the Groningen gas field, Europe’s largest onshore field.

Poland: State-owned oil and gas company PGNiG has increased LNG imports at the Świnoujście Polskie LNG terminal by a third in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year. 

Romania: Chimcomplex, the country’s biggest chemical complex, was forced to suspend operations in mid-August for two weeks due to “increasing prices for electricity and natural gas”.

Companies + Markets

European energy market “out of control”: Gas prices in Europe have again hit all time highs with prices surging almost 40% in August and nearly 300% this year. The EU policy for member states to have gas storage sites 80% full by November 1 is on track with facilities already roughly at 75% capacity, but frantic buying up of non-Russian gas has involved reliance on the global LNG market where prices have risen up to ten times their normal levels amid continuing tight supply and intense competition with Asian buyers. As national governments scramble to introduce measures to protect consumers from rampant gas-driven inflation, the Czech Republic is now mulling using its current presidency of the EU to convene another extraordinary energy summit for the bloc to tackle soaring power prices, including discussion of price caps. “The market has gotten out of control to a certain extent,” Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela was quoted as saying. (Business New Europe, Euractiv)

Pipeline constraints hampering U.S. LNG terminal buildout: In spite of a large roster of near shovel-ready projects and the hot pace of long-term export contract deals signed by U.S. LNG companies this year, analysts and U.S. energy companies themselves are acknowledging that a lack of available pipeline capacity is getting in the way of final investment decisions for Gulf Coast export terminals. The country’s biggest gas-producing region, the Appalachian Basin, has been particularly badly affected by effective activist campaigns delaying projects. While doubts persist over whether the current sweet spot in acute overseas gas demand can be hit in time, all eyes are on the Permian Basin where a range of new and expansion gas takeaway projects are moving forward with question marks still persisting about finance sourcing. (Natural Gas Intelligence, OilPrice) 

Eni and TotalEnergies announce “significant” new gas find off the coast of Cyprus: Preliminary estimates from the joint Italian and French partners indicate approximately 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas in place at the Cronos-1 well, 160 kilometers offshore of Cyprus. Eni said that there are good prospects for more discoveries in the region and that Cronos-1 is part of its “successful effort to provide further gas supply to Europe.” Cypriot Energy Minister Natasa Pilides commented that this and other recent offshore discoveries would ramp up discussions with Brussels for Cyprus to be included in the EU’s future energy plans. (Eni press release, LNG Prime, Cyprus Mail)

Inpex seeks free pass on emissions for Australian LNG facility: The Japanese owner of the Ichthys LNG terminal in Darwin, Inpex Corporation, has reacted quickly to a new Australian government policy proposal on reducing carbon emissions at major emitter facilities by seeking exemptions and special treatment. Separately, Inpex and TotalEnergies, a partner at the Ichthys terminal, have been awarded one of Australia’s first offshore greenhouse gas storage permits as the first step in a six-year, multi-million dollar project to develop a regional carbon capture and storage hub to bury emissions from LNG terminals in northern Australia. (The Australian Financial Review, Energy Voice)

Partial restart of Freeport LNG terminal delayed to November: Following an explosion and fire at the U.S. Gulf Coast facility in June, the cause of which remains under investigation, Freeport LNG has announced a partial restart of production in November. This represents a delay of a month on the company’s previous guidance of an early October restart and is expected to worsen global price pressures as a result of tight LNG supply conditions. (Freeport LNG press release, Natural Gas Intelligence) 

Japanese firms set to confirm presence in new Sakhalin 2 LNG entity: The international consortium Sakhalin Energy Investment which, with the participation of Shell, operated the vast Sakhalin-2 LNG and oil project in the Russian Far East for over a decade, has been officially replaced by the Russian state-backed entity Sakhalinskaya Energia. Gazprom retains its 50% stake in the project. At the bidding of the Japanese government, previous project partners Mitsui and Mitsubishi are reported to be close to recommitting to the project, which remains critical to Japan’s energy security. (Newsbase, Reuters)

“France does not really want to pay, because the gas transported via the [Midi-Catalonia] pipeline would not be destined for France, but for other European countries … The French authorities question the usefulness of this, given that northern European countries, notably Germany, are increasing their LNG import capacities at breakneck speed. Spain is ready to support the project but on the condition that it costs the Spanish nothing and is financed by the EU,”

said Charlotte de Montpellier, senior economist at ING Economic Research.


Hydrogen: A Targeted Decarbonization Tool but Not a Panacea, Natural Resources Defense Council, August 16, 2022.

This blog provides a short survey of hydrogen support policies already in play around the world and points out that while hydrogen will be necessary in certain industrial decarbonisation contexts, its production and use must not provide cover for further global expansion of fossil fuels.

The clash with gas: Should it stay or should it go? The Regulatory Assistance Project, August 24, 2022. (PDF)

This 54-page report outlines five principles for European policymakers and stakeholders to navigate the necessary transition away from fossil gas, among them the requirement to “elevate solutions to prioritize benefits for low-income and disadvantaged households”.