November 9, 2023
Issue 60  |  View Past Issues
Inside Gas
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

We’ve read a lot of statistics and column inches over the last eighteen months about booming U.S. LNG export volumes. Now one of the inevitable consequences of this surge has been confirmed by government data. Emissions of CO2 at only the sites of the country’s seven operating export terminals rose by 81% between 2019 and 2022. At the same time, promised carbon capture and storage facilities, aimed at luring more climate-conscious project financiers to bankroll new terminals, appear to be going nowhere. As the stampede to ship more liquefied and chiefly fracked U.S. gas continues, communities in a Black-majority city in Pennsylvania are opposing a US$6.4 billion LNG proposal that would choke them further in an already highly industrialized, toxic urban space. 

The only U.S. government clampdown on LNG that currently exists is restricted to Russia. Recently imposed sanctions on the massive Arctic LNG 2 project, planned to shortly begin operating in Siberia, look likely to lead to TotalEnergies — and potentially Japanese companies — losing considerable supplies. Total has also finally lost its remarkable green investment status in France following extensive analysis and campaigning from finance groups. The government in Paris listened despite major investor pushback from the likes of Amundi and BlackRock. 

As the countdown to COP28 continues, warnings from significant institutions about the dismal energy transition performance of major emitters are growing louder. Backing up the alarm, the latest Production Gap report has calculated that governmental plans for the extraction and use of gas alone by 2030 are 82% greater than what’s needed for a liveable planet. 

Grieg Aitken


New North Sea drilling proposals purely a political play

The UK government’s unveiling of new legislation in this year’s king’s speech to mandate annual North Sea oil and gas licensing rounds is a desperate political maneuver that will do nothing to improve national energy security or reduce energy bills, writes Fiona Harvey in The Guardian

Climate benefits of hydrogen at risk as fossil fuel industry pressures mount

With tens of billions of dollars at stake, the U.S. Treasury Department is facing intense lobbying that could turn the clean hydrogen production tax credit into a taxpayer-funded catalyst for heavily polluting projects, writes Julie McNamara of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Scientific American.

Food systems are responsible for at least 15% of global fossil fuel consumption

Decarbonising the production, transport, and storage of food is essential as new research joins the dots with the petrochemicals industry’s massive investment drive, writes Clare Carlile in DeSmog.


Big polluters kicked out of French socially responsible investment funds

After a two-year long fight by finance campaign groups, finance minister Bruno Le Maire has announced that France will only let investment funds use the national Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) label if they blacklist fossil fuel companies that are expanding production. The decision affects SRI funds that have grown in recent years to hold assets worth over US$800 billion and will exclude oil and gas expansion companies such as TotalEnergies currently found in 20% of the SRI funds. Le Maire said that the move was “essential” for fighting climate change and would make it easier for green investors to know what they’re really investing in. (Reclaim Finance, Bloomberg) 

Top News

Government data show U.S. terminal emissions on the rise as CCS plans fall by the wayside: Record high volumes of U.S. LNG exports, primarily bound for Europe, have come off the back of a sharp rise in CO2 emissions at the facilities that produce the liquefied fuel, according to U.S. government data and reported by Reuters, with substantially steeper emissions still to come. Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that in 2022, CO2 emissions at seven operating U.S. LNG export terminals totaled 17.6 million tons, an 81% rise since 2019. Based on company projections provided to the EPA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, this emissions figure is projected to soar to 45 million tons per year by 2028 when five new export terminals currently under construction are expected to be operating. The figures account only for LNG production and don’t capture the leaked methane emissions that accumulate from wellhead to shipping or the emissions from ultimately combusting the fuel. It has also emerged, via regulatory filings, that at least three carbon capture and storage (CCS) schemes planned for U.S. LNG facilities are unlikely to go ahead. One of these, slated for the already financed Rio Grande terminal in Texas, had been touted by promoter NextDecade as being able to remove more than 90% of the project’s emissions, but financial question marks have left that CCS scheme in doubt, according to a company spokesperson. (Reuters)

Mozambique LNG restart hopes grow despite continuing insurgent activity: As speculation mounts over when force majeure might be lifted at the Mozambique LNG export terminal, a senior official at the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), the biggest financial backer of the US$20 billion project, said that the bank is carrying out fresh due diligence though when that will be completed remains “too hypothetical.” Ex-Im, which agreed a US$4.7 billion project loan in 2020, and other export credit agencies that were involved prior to a violent regional insurgency forcing a pause in the project in April 2021 are under pressure from the Mozambican government to reaffirm their lending commitments to the project by the end of the year. A director of the Indian company Bharat Petroleum, which holds a 10% stake in the TotalEnergies-led facility, expressed hope that construction work would restart “maybe in the next couple of quarters,” and added that the project’s costs will likely need to be reviewed. However, despite some improvements in the security situation in Cabo Delgado, in the last two months conflict observers have recorded continuing activity from insurgents in the province, including attacks on villages and kidnappings, that has provoked further population displacements. (Bloomberg, Moneycontrol, Cabo Ligado)

Majority-Black Pennsylvania community fights back against proposed LNG terminal: A small city on the Delaware River in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that has been blighted for three decades with crippling health impacts derived from the U.S.’s largest waste incinerator in its midst is now contending with plans from Penn America Energy to build a US$6.4 billion LNG export facility on the city’s waterfront. A final feasibility report from a bipartisan state task force into the 7 mtpa terminal slated for development in Chester, whose population is 72% Black, is expected to land this month. Project opponents in the community expect it to back Penn America’s plans given the presence of industry interest groups on the task force. Amid a growing environmental justice campaign within the city, though, the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living group is bracing for a fight alongside the city’s newly elected Black mayor Stefan Roots who has pushed back against the LNG proposal. Penn America’s project, which also requires a new pipeline to carry gas from shale fields in the Appalachian basin, would displace 108 homes, four churches, and a daycare center in a city whose five square miles of land already feature a concentration of toxic industrial facilities. (Environmental Health News, WHYY News)

UN report calls for 75% reduction in oil and gas production by 2050: Based on governments’ production plans and projections, the 2023 Production Gap Report identifies that 82% more gas is set to be extracted and burned by 2030 than is compatible with limiting global warming to the internationally agreed 1.5C. To avoid jeopardizing a well-managed and equitable energy transition, the report urges — at minimum — a combined reduction in oil and gas production and use by three-quarters by 2050 from 2020 levels. Cumulative production plans for coal, oil, and gas in the same timeframe are also 69% higher than is compatible with 2C of warming. Profiling 20 major producer countries, the report notes that Qatar has the biggest gas expansion plans, with Russia second, and Nigeria third. “We find that many governments are promoting fossil gas as an essential ‘transition’ fuel but with no apparent plans to transition away from it later,” commented Dr. Ploy Achakulwisut, a lead author on the report and a research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute. (Stockholm Environment Institute, The Guardian) 

Southeast Asian countries urged to think again about LNG dependency: A new report by Asia Research & Engagement (ARE), which documents discrepancies between LNG’s perceived environmental benefits and the fuel’s actual impacts, warns that countries in Southeast Asia should reconsider their growing reliance on LNG as they transition from coal to renewables. Pointing to data showing that the region’s current LNG import capacity of 45 million tonnes per year (mtpa) could climb to 80 mtpa by 2040 if proposed projects — chiefly in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam — are realized, the Singapore-based research firm cautions that such expansion plans threaten global climate targets. “The new research underscores that LNG’s carbon intensity is on par with coal,” said report author Kurt Metzger, “emphasizing the necessity of investing in solar, wind, and low-carbon sources to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees.” Among ARE’s recommendations are calls for LNG sellers and buyers to re-appraise the viability of ongoing investments, taking into full account LNG’s overall life-cycle emissions, and for producers to “rigorously document and report the carbon emissions of every cargo” before submitting these to a third-party certification body. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the Secretary-General of the National Energy Council, Djoko Siswanto, announced that by 2036 the country will stop exporting gas and instead use 100% of its gas production to meet domestic needs. Indonesia was the world’s sixth-largest LNG exporter in 2022, shipping 15 tons. (Asia Research & Engagement [Pdf], Eco-Business [registration required] Indonesia Window, 

Fracking and methane emissions regulation sought in Pennsylvania: The governor of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, one of the country’s fracking hot spots, has announced a voluntary collaboration with gas driller CNX Resources, part of a range of measures and hoped for new laws to compel the oil and gas industry to disclose all chemicals used to drill for fossil fuels and to “control” methane emissions. Following some of the recommendations from a 2020 state grand jury report on fracking, the agreement with CNX includes voluntary air monitoring and data sharing at two of the company’s drilling sites. The choice of partnering with CNX drew criticism from anti-fracking advocates who pointed out the company has been fined US$1.8 million in the past five years for hundreds of violations, including fracking fluid spills and misreporting air pollution. CEO Nick DeIuliis maintained that the initiative would “definitively confirm for all stakeholders that there are no adverse human health issues related to responsible natural gas development.” Governor Josh Shapiro also announced that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection had been instructed to immediately pursue “formal rulemaking and policy changes” on a range of industry weak spots, including methane emissions. Improved regulation has stalled for over three years due to heel-dragging from state legislators, Shapiro complained. (Inside Climate News, State Impact Pennsylvania)  

“The firm is best understood as possibly the most powerful oil and gas consulting firm on the planet posturing as a sustainability firm, advising polluting clients on any opportunity to preserve the status quo,” 

said a former McKinsey consultant in an Agence France-Presse investigation exposing how the world’s top management consultancy is advising the UN COP28 presidency on an “energy transition narrative” that backs trillions in new oil and gas investment per year from now until 2050.


Belgium: According to data from the London Stock Exchange Group, deliveries to the Zeebrugge terminal have made the country the top European importer of Russian LNG so far this year, ahead of Spain and France. 

China: State-controlled Sinopec has put the world’s largest LNG storage tank into operation at its Qingdao import terminal; a string of similar sized storage tanks are being developed at other LNG facilities in China. 

China: Beijing has published a long-awaited methane action plan that includes language — but no specific targets — on reducing flaring at oil and gas wells.  

Cyprus: The government has agreed to a request from Chevron for an extension in negotiations regarding a modified development plan for the 3.5 trillion cubic feet Aphrodite offshore gas field.

Indonesia/Malaysia: An ExxonMobil executive has said it would not be economically or technically feasible to use planned carbon capture and storage hubs in Southeast Asia for enhanced oil recovery.  

Ireland: New Fortress Energy has lodged an appeal at the Irish High Court against the national planning authority’s refusal in September to grant permission for the Shannon LNG project in County Kerry. 

Netherlands: U.S. firm Air Products has announced that the use of CCS at its existing hydrogen plant in Rotterdam will make it the largest blue hydrogen facility in Europe when it becomes operational in 2026.

Poland: The ORLEN Group has said that the discovery of additional gas reserves close to the Gina Krog field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf will allow it to increase production before the end of the year. 

Saudi Arabia: The Saudi Power Procurement Company has announced the winning bids for four new combined cycle gas turbine power plants with a combined capacity of 7,200 megawatts; the country hopes to achieve a 50:50 split between gas-fired and renewable electricity generation by 2030. 

U.S.: Voters in Texas approved — 65% in favor, 35% against — a state energy fund that will provide low interest loans for the construction of new gas power plants. 

U.S.: Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that associated gas production grew by 9% in 2022, mostly due to an 8% rise in crude oil production. 

U.S.: Residents of a rural North Carolina community are raising concerns about a fast-tracked plan by Dominion Energy to build a 2 billion cubic feet LNG storage facility less than a mile from their homes.  

Companies + Markets

Driftwood LNG on borrowed time as promoter tells regulator it’s in trouble: U.S. LNG firm Tellurian, which continues to struggle to source financing for the US$14.5 billion first phase of its early-stage construction Driftwood LNG export terminal in Louisiana, reported a larger than expected third quarter loss of US$65.4 million due to declining gas prices, a worse performance than the US$14.2 million loss incurred in the same quarter last year. More significantly for the prospects of the Driftwood project, the company also reported that it has only about US$60 million left on its balance sheet. “These conditions,” Tellurian stated in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “raise substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date that the financial statements are issued.” Following the results posting, the company’s share price fell to an all-time low and remains depressed. “While Tellurian’s earnings don’t matter particularly much, as they mainly consist of the company’s small upstream natural gas assets and not anything from Driftwood, it was still another setback for the beleaguered stock,” wrote Billy Duberstein at the investment website The Motley Fool. “Generating losses when you are trying to raise capital for a large LNG export terminal isn’t a great combination.” (LNG Prime, Houston Chronicle, Upstream [Paywall])

“Killer lake” gas contract award in DRC raises suspicions: A scandal is brewing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following an investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Reuters into how a little-known Canadian start-up company was awarded the rights to extract gas from Lake Kivu, a large lake that straddles the DRC-Rwanda border. Within a year of its founding, Alfajiri Energy had won the rights for three methane blocks and last month signed a contract with the DRC government for Lake Kivu, which has been dubbed a “killer lake” due to its risk of eruption. Doubts have been raised, among other things, about Alfajiri’s technical ability to execute such a complex project with evidence suggesting that the company received preferential treatment. An initial “damning report” on Alfajiri’s suitability in December 2022 by DRC’s Ministry of Hydrocarbons was swiftly followed by a second report that deleted concerns and placed the company as the highest-scoring bidder above two other tendering companies. With the contract signed, how the project will proceed with many question marks hanging over it remains unclear. However, Vincent Rouget, a director at the consultancy Control Risks, commented: “The real value for the owners of these companies wouldn’t lie so much in these blocks but in managing to sell them onwards to a bigger operator in the future.” (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Reuters)

More project blows for Santos in Australia: A decision by the New South Wales government to drop plans for a so-called special activation precinct in the state has dealt a blow to Santos’ Narrabri gas project. The axing of the industrial hub is significant as it was originally designed as a demand center for the company’s coal seam gas plans. The Narrabri project, which has been approved by both the state and federal governments, would involve the drilling of 850 wells across agricultural land in the Pilliga Forest and continues to face fierce community opposition. Santos’ problems at the delayed Barossa offshore project also continue to stack up following the Australian Federal Court’s blocking of pipeline construction work earlier this month. Ahead of a follow-up court hearing on November 13 that could impose further project delays, unionized construction workers who should have begun Barossa pipeline work this week are threatening to boycott the project unless Santos relents on its refusal to guarantee wages during the ongoing delay. (PerthNow, Upstream)

Disorder likely unless big corporate emitters make cuts instead of just commitments: UK-based asset manager Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) has warned of the likelihood of a delayed and disorderly energy transition unless regulators strengthen policies and companies significantly accelerate their decarbonisation efforts. A new study by the firm, which has US$1.47 trillion of assets under management, into the combined carbon emissions of 3,665 companies found them emitting 21 billion tonnes in 2012 and 22 billion tonnes in 2020 and 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic when global emissions fell from earlier peaks. “What we should have been seeing over the past decade is for emissions from listed companies to be falling between 4 and 7 per cent each year,” said Nick Stansbury, LGIM’s head of climate solutions. “But data showed that their emissions were flat.” Updated analysis from Net Zero Tracker, an independent data consortium, has found that while more than half of the world’s 2,000 biggest listed companies have now set net zero emissions targets, only 4% of these commitments meet UN criteria for credible initiatives. The UN’s Race to Zero criteria underscore the basic need for corporations to cover all emissions in their targets and to start cutting them immediately. (South China Morning Post, Net Zero Tracker, Reuters) 

Implications of U.S. sanctions on Arctic LNG 2 sink in: The U.S. government’s first direct blacklisting of a Russian LNG project, Novatek’s 19.8 mtpa Arctic LNG 2 export terminal due to start initial production in the next two months, has led to its international shareholders scrambling to make holding statements about “potential consequences” in response. On paper, the sanctions should mean that project stakeholders — TotalEnergies, China National Petroleum Corporation, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, and Japan’s Mitsui Group and Jogmec — have to divest their equity in the project by January 31, 2024. While cargoes from the Siberian terminal would still be possible for delivery to countries, such as China, with no direct link to the U.S. financial system, European deliveries ought to be ruled out. This would mean Total losing its 2 mtpa equity-offtake contract from Arctic LNG 2. The sensitivity of the U.S. move for Japan resulted in industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura holding a press conference, where he stated, “We will work with the Group of Seven countries to make a comprehensive judgment and respond appropriately so as not to impair the stable energy supply to our nation.” Japan could seek a Russian LNG workaround similar to the one it secured earlier this year to import Russian oil above the G7 price cap of US$60 a barrel. Russia, meanwhile, will not be deterred by the sanctions from pursuing its plans to increase LNG production to 100 million tonnes a year, according to a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. (Energy Intelligence, S&P Global, Reuters)

New figures on Ohio’s methane problem and Texas’ toxic wastewater problem: More analysis has been published exposing the climate and environmental degradation that’s been produced for years by drilling companies at two of America’s major oil and gas patches. A study commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and Taxpayers for Common Sense estimates that 31 billion cubic feet of gas was wasted across Ohio’s 44,300 active gas wells in 2019, with 99.6% of this due to leakage. That volume of leaked gas — enough to meet the annual needs of the Ohian cities of Columbus and Cincinnati — is 50% higher than U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates, and equates to US$93 million of lost methane. In Texas, vague rules and lax oversight at the state’s Railroad Commission, which is responsible for regulating oil and gas drilling, has obscured the scope and severity of spills of toxic “produced water” at drill sites and other industry infrastructure. An extensive investigation by Inside Climate News found that from 2013 to 2022, oil and gas companies operating in Texas reported more than 10,000 individual spills involving more than 148 million gallons of produced water, a total reckoned to be far from complete as operators are only required to self-report the spills. While companies use vacuum trucks to suck up the spilled water as far as they can, only about 40% of the water reported as spilled in the period was recovered, the investigation found. (Ohio Capital Journal, Inside Climate News)


Appalachia Hydrogen Facts, Ohio River Valley Institute.

This resource site provides information relevant to two hydrogen hubs moving forward in the Appalachian region under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that could impact communities across dozens of counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (9th edition), Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility, October 19, 2023. [Pdf]

This 637-page report synthesizes findings from over 2,500 scientific studies, government reports, and journalistic findings to provide an assessment of the full impacts of fracking and the state of the industry. 

Mideast war turns spotlight on Arab Gas Pipeline, Energy Intelligence, November 3, 2023.

This short overview discusses the potential impacts for a key regional pipeline if the Israel–Hamas war escalates. 

Energy systems in transition: EU and US, Zero Carbon Analytics, November 7, 2023. [Pdf]

This 16-page report forecasts that the ramping up of new investments in clean energy across the EU and the U.S. looks set to steadily knock gas and coal out of power grids through the 2020s.