Cancer Alley evidence mounts in Louisiana
Data gaps have allowed U.S. regulators to downplay the carcinogenic effects of the fossil fuel facilities crammed into the industrial corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but these gaps are starting to be filled as scientific evidence mounts showing that air pollution is linked to higher cancer rates among Black and impoverished communities, writes James Bruggers for Inside Climate News.
Is Europe the new El Dorado for LNG?
Europe’s LNG buying spree in 2022 was over four times greater than the demand shock experienced by Japan after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but assessing future import needs is far from straightforward, writes Anne-Sophie Corbeau for Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
Lipstick on a pig: Hydrogen-ready branding for new LNG infrastructure requires more scrutiny and caution
The technical and scientific foundations for the “hydrogen-ready” claims accompanying the flood of new LNG terminal project proposals in Europe and elsewhere are highly uncertain and require rigorous, transparent analysis, which has been largely lacking so far, write Ade Samuel and Rachel Fakhry for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The seven-year war against gas in the U.S. is ramping up
Since Southern California Gas Company’s massive Aliso Canyon methane blowout in 2017, the U.S.’s largest gas utility has deployed nefarious tactics to stem criticism of gas, and now its gas to hydrogen switching plans are being challenged, writes Sammy Roth in the Los Angeles Times.
Shell’s directors personally sued over “flawed” transition strategy
Two years after a Dutch court ordered Shell to slash its emissions, ClientEarth has filed a lawsuit at the High Court in England against the company’s 11 directors for what the environmental lawyers allege is their failure under the UK Companies Act to properly prepare Shell for the transition to net zero. The High Court will now decide on whether or not to proceed with ClientEarth’s suit. A new analysis by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility into the emissions target implications of both Shell and BP’s recent 2022 results has found that the companies are damaging “the credibility of existing climate transition plans.” (The Guardian, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility)
“LNG no longer part of the long-term plan” – Pakistani energy minister: The soaring price of imports has compelled Pakistan to abandon its long-held strategy of importing LNG and building new gas plants in favor of increased reliance on domestic energy sources. Initial reporting from Reuters, citing Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, emphasized plans to increase domestic coal-fired power capacity to 10,000 megawatts (MW) in the medium term, from 2310 MW currently. Citing an unnamed ministry source, Bloomberg reported that no new power plants reliant on imported coal, LNG, or fuel oil will be built over the next decade, but domestic power capacity is to be boosted via domestic solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear resources, as well as locally-mined coal. (Reuters, Bloomberg [paywall])
Mammoth terminal would balloon oversized German LNG expansion plans even further: As the first shipment of Middle Eastern LNG to Germany arrived this week in Brunsbüttel, at the country’s third newly operating import terminal, the energy and economics minister of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was announcing yet more plans for potentially four floating storage and regasification units — total capacity of 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) — to be sited offshore the island of Rügen, a tourist hotspot. RWE has submitted initial documents to begin a planning approval procedure for what could be two offshore platforms, operating as soon as autumn 2024, with the four FSRUs attached to them. German environment group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) said it would exhaust all legal options to stop what it described as “an unprecedented industrialization of the Baltic Sea.” Alternatives to the plans are expected to be explored owing to the potential impacts on communities and a European bird sanctuary.(energate messenger, Nordkurier [German], DUH [German], ADNOC)
Major gas plant requires an EIA, say Guyanese citizens: A decision from Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency, exempting the proposed 300 MW gas-fired Wales power station from undergoing an environmental impact assessment, has been challenged by concerned citizens who have urged the regulator to rescind the decision by the end of this month. Represented by Guyanese lawyer Melinda Janki, the citizens have documented how the decision, taken on the basis that the Wales plant would not significantly affect the environment should it be developed near the capital Georgetown, is unlawful and a violation of the country’s Environmental Protection Act. ExxonMobil Guyana has not yet taken a final investment decision on the project, which is at least two years behind schedule, but said it began early construction work this month. (Kaieteur News, GEM.wiki, Guyana Chronicle)
Emergency measures in South Africa boost approval chances for gas powerships: Three controversial floating gas power plants, involving a 20-year, R200 billion (US$11 billion) contract, are now being tipped to be approved by the South African state as a result of new emergency measures introduced in response to the country’s acute power sector difficulties. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a state of disaster will accelerate energy projects and “limit regulatory requirements,” though the president said that environmental protections and technical standards would be maintained. While Karpowership’s proposals for the ports of Saldanha Bay, Coega, and Richards Bay await an environmental ruling next month from government minister Barbara Creecy, sources in the department of forestry and fisheries believe that approval from Creecy is inevitable given the crisis conditions. (Mail & Guardian)
Pennsylvania gas plant fire inspected only nine days later by state authorities: Pennsylvania state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has come under fire for its botched response to a fire that broke out on Christmas Day at the Revolution Cryogenic gas processing plant, operated by Energy Transfer, in Washington County. DEP staff did not visit the plant site until nine days after the incident, as confirmed by the non-profit group Environmental Integrity Project, despite an initial statement from DEP’s communications director that they had visited on December 25. No injuries resulted from the blaze, which burned out after ten hours, though staff at the plant were evacuated, and at least one family living next door also left their home for several hours. (Inside Climate News)
IEA head issues transition warning despite booming oil and gas profits: The global oil and gas industry raked in US$4 trillion in profits last year, according to Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, a stunning rise from the average profit level of US$1.5 trillion in recent years. Nonetheless, Birol warned of longer term demand falls and the need for producer countries to reduce their reliance on hydrocarbons. “Especially the countries in the Middle East have to diversify their economies,” said Birol. “You cannot anymore run a country whose economy is 90% reliant on oil and gas revenues because oil demand will go down.” Total profits for the five western oil and gas majors — BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies — hit US$195 billion last year, 120% more than in 2021, and the highest level in the industry’s history. (Reuters, Global Witness)
“Between last year and already in 2023, the [European Union] will have distributed 600 billion euros in subsidies to its population to prevent riots in the street … Imagine if even 20% was dedicated to more infrastructure for gas,”
said Arnaud Pieton, chief executive of Technip Energies, at Baker Hughes’ annual meeting in Italy, which was replete with gas executives’ ambitions and concerns.
China: An intergovernmental agreement has been signed with Russia for the supply of 10 billion cubic meters per year of gas sourced from off the east coast of Sakhalin via the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline.
Germany: The CEO of the country’s largest utility, E.ON, has said that monthly energy bills for most customers are still likely to double this year from their pre-energy crisis levels as the company has not yet passed on all the increases arising from sharply elevated purchasing prices.
Germany: Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck has said that the government is aiming in 2023 to auction a “huge number” of hydrogen-fired power plants and other backup capacities.
Iraq: Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein has said that discussions with U.S. companies and officials are advancing on new gas investments to help Iraq end its reliance on Iranian imports.
Japan: Under the so-called GX Basic Policy, which has received government approval, state institutions have been given expanded scope to assist private companies in the importing of LNG.
Montenegro: According to the Ministry of Finance, agreement on energy cooperation with the U.S. has been reached, including taking action on the proposed LNG terminal in the Port of Bar in partnership with American companies and with the support of American development agencies.
Netherlands: Gasunie has decided not to advance the proposed Terneuzen FSRU project but continues to look at import capacity expansion options in Rotterdam and Eemshaven.
UK: National Gas says by 2025 the 4,700 mile national gas transmission network will contain 2-5% of hydrogen, the first step to convert the network so that it is filled entirely with hydrogen by 2050.
Ukraine: Naftogaz Group has launched a survey in the region of Lviv to explore the “highly promising” possibility of producing coal-bed methane.
Venezuela: Aging infrastructure and a lack of regulations resulted in 86 oil spills and gas leaks in 2022, according to a report published by the Observatory of Political Ecology of Venezuela, up from 77 cases in 2021.
The Gas Graph
Global Energy Monitor’s Global Oil and Gas Extraction Tracker finds a potential seismic shift for gas extraction in Africa, with 84% of new pre-production fields located in recent entrants to Africa’s gas market.
NatWest gets tough on gas financing while Barclays again fails to act: Commercial bank NatWest, still 48% state-owned, has continued on its path as the UK’s most climate ambitious bank by announcing that it is stopping loans to new customers for oil and gas exploration, extraction or production projects. The Edinburgh-based institution said that from 2026 it will also refuse to renew, refinance or extend loans for upstream gas projects that the bank’s existing customers are involved in. “We want to ensure our capital is being used to support a transition while continuing to reduce the financing of harmful emissions,” chief executive Alison Rose said. “I hope this sends a strong signal that we are serious about ending the most harmful activity while financing the transition.” Meanwhile, Barclays failed to rein in any of its multi-billion dollar financing for the gas sector in a review of its oil and gas policy. The London-headquartered bank resisted pressure, aimed also at BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale, from a group of investors — with combined assets under management of more than US$1.5 billion — who are calling on the banks to stop directly financing new oil and gas fields by the end of this year. (The Guardian, ShareAction, Reuters)
International financiers get behind big Ineos plastics project: Ineos has secured a whopping €3.5 billion (US$3.74 billion) in debt financing for a new petrochemical facility in Antwerp, Belgium, which it describes as “the most environmentally sustainable cracker in Europe.” Majority-owned and run by the UK’s richest man, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos claims that the new cracker will have “the lowest carbon footprint of all European crackers, five times better than the worst in Europe and two times better than the best,” and that it could be powered by low-carbon hydrogen within ten years. The plant, planned to commence operations in 2026, will convert low-cost ethane — to be sourced from fracked gas production in the U.S. — into ethylene. The financing is provided by 21 international commercial banks (listed in full in an Ineos press release) and by the export credit agencies of the UK, Spain, and Italy, alongside a loan guarantee of up to €500 million from Gigarant, part of the Flemish government. (The Financial Times [paywall], Ineos)
CCS boost sought for stalled Indonesian LNG project of “national strategic importance”: Japan’s Inpex is hoping that carbon capture and storage technology can make its multi-billion dollar Abadi LNG export terminal “clean and competitive.” The previously planned floating terminal has been reconfigured to a proposed onshore two-train liquefaction project, with likely capacity of 10.5 million tonnes per annum, that the company is now aiming to get off the ground in the early 2030s. Project partner Shell has been looking to divest its 35% stake in the project since 2020 and is reported to be negotiating a sale with Indonesia’s state-owned oil company Pertamina. (Upstream)
Exxon aiming for more energy trading action: In an effort to keep up with rivals BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil is beefing up its energy and derivatives trading, according to an internal company memo seen by The Financial Times. A new business line called Global Trading will seek to enhance “expertise from across the company in global crude, products and feedstocks, natural gas, power and freight trading.” Exxon’s move follows BP and Shell’s huge profit-making from their global gas trading businesses over the past year. (The Financial Times [paywall])
Austria slides back into dependence on piped Russian gas: With an 80% gas dependence on Gazprom as of February 2022, somewhat under the radar Austria has maintained significant pipeline import flows from Russia over the last year. Contractual obligations for Austria’s 31.5% state-owned energy firm OMV are the justification, according to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. “It is a matter of securing state assets and keeping existing contracts as long as possible,” according to Nehammer. In December, roughly 70% of Austria’s gas came from Russia, and this figure has climbed “temporarily” to 100% in recent weeks, according to OMV’s Chief Financial Officer. (EURACTIV, EURACTIV)
TotalEnergies weighing Mozambique LNG restart as latest attacks hit Cabo Delgado: Following his recent visit to Cabo Delgado province in the north of Mozambique, CEO Patrick Pouyanne is maintaining a wait-and-see approach on when work can restart on the French company’s US$20 billion export terminal. Improvements in human rights and clarity on project costs are the key considerations for Pouyanne, who told analysts during a fourth quarter results call: “I can tell you what I’ve seen from a security point of view is good. Even life is back to normal. Villages, people are back.” This week, however, the London-based mining company Gemfields has had to suspend operations and evacuate workers at an exploration camp also located in Cabo Delgado following an attack by insurgents on a nearby village. (LNG Prime, Mining.Com)
“The cost of capital for oil and gas projects has risen due to a higher perceived risk, and capital scarcity is a common phenomenon, driven by ESG … investment in oil and gas has fallen sharply. Upstream investment in 2022 was around $400 billion — less than half of the peak in 2014.”
said Amin Nasser, Saudi Aramco president and CEO, at the Saudi Capital Markets Forum 2023.
Why Carbon Capture and Storage Is Not a Net-Zero Solution for Canada’s Oil and Gas Sector, International Institute for Sustainable Development, February 9, 2023
This 19-page policy briefing discusses the wisdom of further public and private investment for CCS projects related to the oil and gas sector — there are currently five of these operating in Canada — when the technology is known to be expensive, energy intensive, and unproven at scale and has no impact on the 80% of oil and gas emissions that result from downstream use.
Changing of the Guard: The New Hubs of Gas Extraction in Africa, Global Energy Monitor, February 14, 2023
This 8-page data-based briefing assesses the continent’s new reserves, totaling more than 5 bcm of gas with potential emissions equal to almost 12 billion tons of CO2, and how production from many of these fields is facing opposition due to the potential impacts to local ecosystems and communities.
Global LNG Outlook 2023-27 — High Prices Create New Risks to Demand Growth, Institute for Environmental Economics and Financial Analysis, February 15, 2023.
This 42-page global survey anticipates short- and medium-term headwinds for LNG in key markets – Asia and Europe, respectively – and warns that predicted large volumes of new supply entering the market starting in mid-2025 could trigger a supply glut, heightening the financial and pricing risks for LNG exporters and traders.