September 21, 2023
Issue 53  |  View Past Issues
Inside Gas
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Before being detained by French police, activists managed to daub the message “Gas Kills” on a floating LNG processing terminal as it arrived to be put into service at Le Havre port in western France. It was a theme taken up on the other side of the Atlantic by California Governor Gavin Newsom, fresh from an announcement by his office that the Golden State has filed a lawsuit against some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, claiming they've deceived the public about the risks of fossil fuels. “This climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. This climate crisis persists. It’s not complicated. It’s the burning of oil. It’s the burning of gas. It’s the burning of coal. And we need to call that out,” Newsom told an audience at the UN-convened Climate Ambition Summit. The latest detailed satellite evidence shows that it’s also the leakage of methane from oil and gas operations. 

While major protests against Wall Street banks’ fossil fuel financing have also been taking place in New York, a top French bank issued a revised corporate strategy that includes a significant shift away from oil and gas. A longstanding trans-Atlantic campaign against a proposed LNG terminal on the west coast of Ireland has welcomed a planning permission rejection for the project. As tax credit rules for hydrogen production in the U.S. are being drawn up, new evidence has emerged depicting how ExxonMobil is pulling out all the stops in Washington for hydrogen derived from gas.

Grieg Aitken


California files suit against 50 years of lying

The U.S. state of California’s 135-page climate accountability lawsuit filed against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, and the American Petroleum Institute makes it the country’s ninth and most significant state to sue big oil and gas, and more states are likely to follow its example, writes Emily Sanders in ExxonKnews.

The small Canadian LNG project causing some big problems

The soon to be constructed Woodfibre LNG export terminal is driving concerns and divisions in the coastal town of Squamish, British Columbia, and question marks are growing over the project’s finances, writes Nick Cunningham in a two-part investigation for Gas Outlook.

On trial for protesting against Woodside’s Burrup Hub gas project

The crackdown against the Disrupt Burrup Hub campaign from the authorities in Western Australia, including three police raids on her home in six months, is a clear signal that the campaign is working, writes [registration required] Joana Partyka in The Saturday Paper ahead of her criminal trial.

New EU green energy rules exclude blue hydrogen

The European Parliament adopted a revised law earlier this month to boost the development of renewable energy. It excludes the promotion of hydrogen produced from gas but only after an 18-month campaign to counter intense industry lobbying in Brussels, writes Dominic Eagleton for Global Witness.   


Planning permission refused for LNG terminal on Ireland’s west coast

Ireland’s planning body, An Bord Pleanála, has refused permission for the Shannon LNG import terminal proposed for development by U.S. company New Fortress Energy in County Kerry. The Board’s decision, which cited the project’s incompatibility with the Irish government’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, was applauded by groups that have campaigned against the €650 million (US$695 million) gas proposal for the last 15 years. “It’s like winning ten All-Irelands for Kerry, that’s how good it is,” said John McElligott from the Safety Before LNG campaign group, who also called for the return to the community of the 52 hectare land bank owned by Shannon LNG. It was reported that the decision could potentially be challenged in court, but New Fortress Energy has not issued a statement on the matter. (An Bord Pleanála [Pdf], Irish Independent, RTE, Friends of the Earth Ireland)

Top News

New satellite data exposes methane emissions underreporting to the UN: New “real-world data” from satellite observations of methane emissions released from oil and gas operations around the world have added to the mounting evidence that nations are significantly underreporting emissions levels to the United Nations. Drawing on 22 months of detections from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite, a study published in the Nature Communications journal found that actual methane emissions from oil and gas are 30% higher than officially reported numbers, with underreporting from the U.S., Russia, Venezuela, and Turkmenistan driving the discrepancy. Separate satellite detection has for the first time picked up a major methane leak in the UK. Over a three month period, a gas pipeline in southwest England was seen to have leaked a quantity of methane that could have powered 7,500 homes for a year, according to researchers at the University of Leeds. (Bloomberg, BBC)

Untapped renewables offer Bangladesh greater energy and financial security than LNG says think tank: Analysis by the Dhaka-based think tank South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) estimates that if Bangladesh taps its vast underdeveloped renewable energy potential as an alternative to a planned growing reliance on LNG importing, then it would stand to realize savings of close to US$39.6 billion — or just over 9% of the country’s gross domestic product — by 2030. Currently two LNG import terminals are operating in Bangladesh, and with the country’s gas reserves expected to be almost exhausted by 2030, the government plans to increase LNG imports by 9 million tonnes in 2030, 21 Mt in 2040, and 46 Mt in 2050. At least two new import terminals have been proposed for development. Sanem’s research, however, pointed to Bangladesh’s strikingly low, 1.9% proportion of renewable energy usage in power generation compared to other South Asian nations, including Pakistan with 6.8%, Sri Lanka with 22.22%, and India with 30.2%. The government’s turn towards import dependency on energy security grounds is increasingly disputed as a lack of U.S. dollars is complicating payments for imports. (The Daily Star, The Business Standard)

U.S. carbon emissions shifting overseas as fossil fuel exports increase: A new report from independent environmental consultant Jeremy Symons, a former Environmental Protection Agency climate adviser under President Bill Clinton, shows that carbon and methane emissions from U.S. fossil fuel exports — coal, oil, and gas — have shot up by 463% since 2005 and are canceling out domestic cuts in emissions. Symons forecasts that with emissions from gas and LNG exports on course to accelerate most markedly in the coming years, by 2050 overall U.S. fossil fuel exports could cause up to US$18.7 trillion in climate damages. In the shorter-term, while domestic emissions from energy are expected to decline significantly by 2030 under programs such as the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, U.S. exports could reach an emissions level of 2.9 gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030, a 650% increase above 2005 levels. “With the U.S. set to make additional cuts in domestic GHGs and further reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, oil and gas companies have a plan,” states the report. “Grow production and find new customers overseas.” (Symons Public Affairs [Pdf], Symons Public Affairs) 

French activists facing imprisonment, stiff fines after attempted Le Havre LNG blockade: The arrival of the Cape Ann LNG floating storage and regasification unit at the French port of Le Havre was greeted by Greenpeace activists in kayaks and canoes protesting the new 5 billion cubic meters per year import facility to be operated by TotalEnergies. The protestors were able to paint the message “Gas Kills” on the hull of the 280 meter long vessel, after which nine activists and two photojournalists were arrested and subsequently released within 24 hours. The nonviolent protest may lead to imprisonment for up to two years and a fine of up to €30,000 (US$32,000) for some of the participants pending a court hearing set for October 2024, said Greenpeace France in a statement. Among Greenpeace’s criticisms of the Total terminal, which is due to start operating in the next few weeks, are that it will be largely supplied by fracked gas sourced from the U.S., despite fracking being banned on French territory, and that it contradicts a commitment announced by French president Emmanuel Macron last year to make France the first major nation to abandon fossil fuels. (Greenpeace France, Offshore Energy, No Comment [Video])

Groups allege foul play in Balkan pipeline financing and consultation: Environmental groups CEE Bankwatch Network and Eko-Svest have lodged three formal complaints at the European Anti-Fraud Office and the Energy Community Secretariat over alleged legal breaches related to the financing and environmental approval for the proposed Greece–North Macedonia gas pipeline project. Construction on the 126-kilometer interconnector has yet to begin, though it has secured loans and grants of more than €50 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) as well as EU funding; another development bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is also currently considering financing. Mandatory state aid checks for an EIB loan guarantee did not take place, the groups allege, and they have also raised concerns that North Macedonia’s environment ministry failed to properly organize a public consultation period for the project in breach of environmental impact assessment rules. (CEE Bankwatch Network, GEM.Wiki)

Questions asked over EU climate money for Romanian gas pipeline: The EU is facing accusations of hypocrisy over an €86 million (US$92 million) public money handout for the Tuzla–Podisor gas pipeline in Romania, with the money derived from taxes on pollution. The onshore pipeline, which is expected to become operational in 2027 to transport gas from the massive, under-development Neptun Deep gas field in the Black Sea, was awarded the funding from the EU’s Modernisation Fund in March this year. Critics have seized on the incompatibility of a major gas pipeline receiving support from a fund whose slogan is “accelerating the transition to climate neutrality” and also point out that the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which partly funds the Modernisation Fund, is designed to put a price on carbon emissions, thus adding to the hypocrisy in this case. Faten Aggad from the African Climate Foundation said the gas pipeline backing was another example of the EU acting contrary to its fossil fuel phase-out rhetoric aimed at other regions. “There is no single meeting in Africa on energy transition that I attended where Europe’s hypocrisy isn’t pointed out,” she said. (Climate Home News)

“[Fossil fuel companies] are much better at capturing politicians than they are at capturing emissions. You can sometimes tell when they’ve captured one,” 

commented Al Gore on UK prime minister Rishi Sunak’s climate policy U-turns.


Australia: Following the failure of union group the Offshore Alliance and Chevron Australia to reach a deal and end strike action at the Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG export terminals in Western Australia, the nation’s labor regulator has stepped in to oversee talks between the parties and expressed confidence that a final agreement was imminent. 

Colombia: With current reserves rapidly dwindling and amid renewed interest in exploration off the country’s Caribbean coast, Colombian industry association Naturgas believes new offshore fields could increase proven gas reserves by 25-fold.

Czech Republic: The majority state-owned utility ČEZ said that since the Eemshaven import terminal in the Netherlands opened last autumn it had supplied just over a quarter of the Czech Republic’s annual gas needs, with no LNG cargoes sourced from Russia.

Norway: Climate and environment minister Espen Barth Eide has pledged to deliver Norwegian gas to Europe for as long as needed, saying also that the country was working “for the elimination of use, for the transition, from natural gas.”

Russia: In an effort to halt the increasing flow of Russian LNG to Europe, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has imposed wider sanctions on Russia to include gas producer Novatek’s newest export facilities, Gazprom subsidiaries, and building contractor Velesstroy.

Sweden: Almost a year on from the sabotage that blew up three of the four Nord Stream gas pipelines, Swedish investigators hope to conclude their inquiry before the end of the year. 

Companies + Markets

Exxon bearing down on the White House for hydrogen from gas tax credits: An internal company memo seen by Bloomberg has revealed how ExxonMobil is lobbying the Biden administration in a bid to land billions of dollars of subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act for hydrogen produced from gas. As U.S. government officials prepare to finalize the rules for the tax credit incentives for hydrogen production before the end of the year, Exxon CEO Darren Woods met last week with White House senior clean energy adviser John Podesta to make the case for so-called blue hydrogen, and a string of other key officials and politicians are lined up as lobbying targets, according to the memo. Over the next ten years, there are four tiers of tax incentives available depending on the carbon intensity of hydrogen production projects, with the cleanest projects in line for a subsidy of US$3 per kilogram of hydrogen produced. According to the Exxon memo, too much focus has been placed on green hydrogen, and instead, “It is important to expand this discussion to include other production pathways eligible for the credit.” (Bloomberg)

Major French bank becomes the latest to shun oil and gas: Société Générale, France’s fourth largest commercial bank, has announced new financing restrictions for the oil and gas sector that, says Paris-based finance watchdog Reclaim Finance, are tougher than those recently announced by its peers BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole. Part of a new strategic roadmap unveiled by its new management team, Société Générale has committed — starting from January next year — to stop financing greenfield upstream oil and gas projects and to phase-out its exposure to “private pure players” involved in upstream oil and gas. The latter restriction would not apply to state-owned companies such as Saudi Aramco or diversified companies such as TotalEnergies, one of the bank’s biggest customers. Midstream infrastructure such as LNG terminals will no longer receive Société Générale financing if they are associated with new gas fields or involve shale or Arctic gas. (Société Générale [Pdf], Reclaim Finance, Bloomberg)

Top Filipino power generation company risks more financial pain with LNG plans: A new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has warned that the stuttering financial health of San Miguel Global Power Holdings Corporation (SMGPH), the largest power generation company in the Philippines, caused by an ambitious coal- and gas-based expansion strategy, could worsen further as the company looks to shift from coal to LNG. “Without an immediate, material pivot to renewables, IEEFA believes the company is at risk of locking in financial instability caused by overexposure to volatile fossil fuel prices,” said the report’s co-author Sam Reynolds. The report notes that in spite of SMGPH announcing in 2018 a goal of achieving 10,000 megawatts of renewables capacity by 2028, it does not yet own any operational wind or solar assets, while it has amassed billions of dollars in debt for fossil fuel projects. (IEEFA)

U.S. LNG boss eyes European markets in the near term, Asia in the long term: The 9.3 million tons per year (mtpa) Commonwealth LNG export terminal in Louisiana is on course for a final investment decision (FID) in the first quarter of 2024, according to bullish comments from the company’s chairman Paul Varello that also offered insights into how a new wave of U.S. LNG projects intend to market their product. A FID in the coming months should allow for the first two of six production trains at the US$4.8 billion Commonwealth facility to come online in early 2027. Earlier this month, the company entered an initial agreement with the Swiss-based energy trader MET Group for the sale of 1 mtpa of LNG for 20 years, and Varello commented that, despite some reluctance from European buyers to enter into 20-year deals, securing shorter contracts with Europe would be the near-term priority until LNG replaces Russian piped gas. Longer term, Asia and particularly China will become the company’s focus. “China needs LNG to get rid of its coal burn and that is a gigantic upside for us if we can keep the price competitive,” Varello said. In addition, Commonwealth LNG has received indications that Indian buyers are also interested in long-term supply contracts. (S&P Global)

China’s Sinopec makes bigger than expected LNG spot market purchases: Following a reported tender to buy up to 25 LNG cargoes on the spot market over the next 14 months, China’s national oil company Sinopec increased its final purchases to more than 30 cargoes, with sources in Beijing pointing blame at U.S. LNG exporter Venture Global for failing to supply contracted volumes. Sinopec and Venture Global signed a supply agreement in 2021 for one million tons of LNG per year to be shipped from an export terminal in Louisiana starting in March this year. Venture Global has attracted widespread industry criticism and legal action from companies including BP and Shell for claiming that it has not yet formally commissioned the Calcasieu Pass terminal and cannot deliver contracted LNG volumes despite having shipped over 200 cargoes via spot market sales since last year. Sinopec said its purchases would allow it to cover Chinese winter demand and boost its LNG reserves for trading purposes. (Reuters, Reuters)


Civil Society 10-point plan for a fossil gas phase out by 2035, Climate Action Network Europe et al, September 15, 2023. 

Ahead of European Parliament elections in June 2024, over 40 European NGOs have endorsed a call to elected representatives and policy-makers on how to deliver an EU-wide transition away from gas by 2035.