November 3, 2023
Issue 59  |  View Past Issues
Inside Gas
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

Australian energy company Santos’ major Barossa gas project has received another setback after an eleventh hour court injunction blocked the start of offshore pipeline construction work. A Tiwi Island traditional owner sought the injunction based on fresh evidence about the risks to cultural heritage sites posed by the proposed routing of the pipeline. In granting the interim injunction, the presiding judge pointedly prioritized the potential “irreversible” damage for local Indigenous communities over the significant financial impact from the delay for Santos. In Greece, new scientific research into the impacts of offshore exploration on endangered whales and other sea mammals has led to calls for the government to cancel drilling permits. 

Rating agency Fitch has determined that oil and gas companies stand out as the most exposed to credit downgrade risk due to widespread evidence of inadequate energy transition planning. Backing up this assessment is the evident confusion at BP over what transition means, as displayed by the company’s interim CEO this week. 

Ahead of an OECD meeting next week, there is momentum behind efforts to achieve consensus among the world’s richest countries to make good on commitments to cut off public finance for overseas fossil fuel projects. One dissenting voice will be the U.S., whose government’s promotion of the LNG export boom this year has included public finance support. The latest analysis to point out that, due to methane leaks, these exports are more impactful on the climate than coal ought to be a deal-maker in Paris next week for parties committed to avoiding irreversible global damage. 

Grieg Aitken


Electrifying offshore platforms is the wrong target

The UK offshore regulator’s push to electrify oil and gas platforms in the North Sea is fraught with risks, would waste billions in taxpayer and industry money, and would do little to curb emissions, writes industry veteran Tom Baxter in The Conversation.

A livable, breathable, drinkable future is not found in a hydrogen hub

Low-income, Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities targeted for the nationwide US$7 billion hydrogen buildout in the U.S. are organizing against the proposed projects, including carbon capture systems and other false solutions to the climate crisis, writes Jane Patton in Common Dreams.

Fracking approval for Beetaloo carbon bomb based on wonky emissions assumptions

A host of massive underestimates in a study by the Australian government’s scientific research agency cleared the way for the Northern Territory government to green light a major gas fracking project in the Beetaloo Basin, writes Bill Hare of the climate science policy institute Climate Analytics in The Conversation

LNG exports significantly worse for the climate than coal

As the Biden administration mulls the licensing of new LNG export facilities, new analysis of the ground-to-combustion life cycle emissions of U.S. LNG exports shows that they are at least 24% worse for the climate than coal, writes Bill McKibben in The New Yorker.

Top News

Federal Court orders Santos to halt Barossa pipeline work hours before construction start: A further legal setback for Santos’ Barossa gas project has stepped up calls for the Adelaide-based energy company to inform the market about the cost of the delays on the US$3.6 billion offshore project. The Australian Federal Court granted an emergency injunction to halt construction on the 262-kilometer pipeline until at least November 13 following an appeal from Simon Munkara, a Tiwi Traditional Owner. Despite Santos having in place both a pipelay vessel ready to start work offshore Darwin and an expert opinion stating that there are no specific underwater cultural sites on the pipeline’s proposed route, Munkara argued that there is fresh evidence about cultural heritage risks posed by the pipeline for Australia’s offshore gas regulator to examine. Justice Natalie Charlesworth said, “There exists a serious question to be tried about the existence of risks for which no provision is presently made in the pipeline environment plan.” Santos said it would update the market on the schedule and cost of Barossa if the injunction extends beyond November 13 when the court will reconvene to consider a second injunction brought by Mr. Munkara to prevent Santos from building the pipeline until it revises its environment plan. (The Australian Financial Review, Environmental Defenders Office, ABC)

Israel awards gas exploration licenses amid conflict: Announcing the results of its fourth offshore licensing round launched in December 2022, Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has handed twelve licenses to six companies for gas exploration in areas close to the country’s existing Leviathan field. Two consortia won the license bids that will allow exploration for an initial period of three years. Italy’s Eni heads one of the groups involving South Korean-owned Dana Petroleum and Israel’s Ratio Energies. The second group consists of BP, Azerbaijan’s national oil company Socar, and Israel’s NewMed Energy. As the Israel–Hamas war entered its fourth week, the government in neighboring Egypt said that continuing daily power cuts in the country were partly due to gas imports from Israel having dried up. These comments sparked a short-lived jump in European gas prices over concerns that Egyptian LNG exports to the EU would not be able to restart in the short-term due to the ongoing security situation in the region. (Reuters, Energy Voice, Bloomberg, Bloomberg)  

Study finds increased threat to endangered whales from Greece’s offshore drilling plans: The Greek government has been urged to cancel all offshore oil and gas drilling permits following the publication of a new research study showing that endangered whales and dolphins inhabit waters off southwestern Greece and the island of Crete, an area roughly the size of Switzerland that has been earmarked for hydrocarbon exploitation, all year round. The presence of at least four cetacean species, including a few hundred sperm whales, in the area during the summer months had previously been recorded. A survey conducted by the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Greenpeace Greece and the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute during 2021–22, found the sea mammals also residing in the deep waters of the Hellenic Trench during winter. Up to now, say the researchers, this information gap has been used to justify potentially harmful seismic surveys in winter. In recent years, a series of concessions for offshore oil and gas exploration has been challenged by environmental groups because of the threats to marine life. This year, ExxonMobil and Greece’s Helleniq Energy completed a three-month seismic survey in two blocks of seabed south and southwest of Crete, where initial exploratory drilling could get underway in 2025. The Greek government has also just published a draft plan for building its first offshore wind farms in the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas, with the aim of achieving installed capacity of at least 2,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030. (University of Exeter, Associated Press, Reuters)  

European Commission OKs Bulgaria’s Russian gas transit tax: Following the Bulgarian government’s recent imposition of a €10 (US$10.5) per megawatt-hour tax on Russian gas transiting the country and destined for Serbia, Hungary, and North Macedonia, the European Commission has not stood in the way of the measure. A Commission spokesperson said it was up to Bulgaria how to use the revenues from the new tax, which could bring in €1.2–1.5 billion per year. Russia’s Gazprom has so far made no comment on whether it will pay the charge, which some Bulgarian energy analysts think will be difficult to enforce. North Macedonia’s government has said it will seek compensation from Sofia if it is not explicitly exempted from paying any additional fees. (EURACTIV [registration required], SeeNews)

Nigeria and Germany in “very deep discussion” on gas: The German government’s scouring of the globe for non-Russian gas supplies has taken Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Nigeria. While no supply deal to add to the crude oil that Germany already imports from the African country was immediately forthcoming from the visit, Scholz made positive noises about the capacity expansion at the Nigeria LNG export terminal that is due to be operational next year, commenting: “If we are successful, if there is a better chance of exporting the produced gas ... it is then the question for German companies to do their private business.” Nigerian President Bola Tinubu referred to a “very deep discussion” on gas with his counterpart and encouraged German businesses to invest in the country’s pipelines. Meanwhile, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, which has jurisdiction over Germany’s LNG Acceleration Law introduced last year, has continued to defend the controversial legislation against challenges. In the latest case, the court threw out the first of two lawsuits brought by two men whose property was provisionally seized to allow for the construction of infrastructure required for the Brunsbüttel LNG terminal. (Reuters, EURACTIV [registration required],, Bloomberg)

Pennsylvania urged to end fracking chemicals secrecy: Restrictive chemical disclosure rules in the U.S state of Pennsylvania are thought to be masking the extent of the fracking industry’s use of “forever chemicals,” according to a new report from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). The group’s research says that at least one kind of highly toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was used by two companies at eight Pennsylvanian gas wells between 2012 and 2022. Over the period, the group calculates that a total of 160 million pounds (72.6 million kilograms) of “trade-secret” chemicals were injected into more than 5,000 unconventional gas wells across the state. Under Pennsylvanian state law, fracking companies are required to disclose the chemicals they use to regulators but can also choose not to publicly disclose them if doing so “reveals a trade secret or confidential proprietary information.” A study earlier this year by the U.S. Geological Survey and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection found that streams near small rural towns surrounded by oil and gas development may contain “low levels” of PFAS contamination. PSR is calling for the state to ban the use of “forever chemicals” by the oil and gas industry and require public disclosure of all chemicals used in fracking, as has been mandated by the state of Colorado. (Inside Climate News)

“Overcapacity, high retail prices, fuel shortages and now a struggle to pay energy bills — while subsidising an oligarchic clientele,” 

said Rashed al Mahmud Titumir, an economist at the University of Dhaka, about the ongoing impacts of Bangladesh’s dash for gas, including problems with price-sensitive LNG imports, and the billions of dollars in state-funded capacity payments going to gas power plants that have been idle for more than a year. 


Australia: Efforts to better understand the effects of the offshore oil and gas industry’s reliance on seismic testing — or blasting — has led to research from the Western Australia state government showing that the technology is dazing, and potentially killing, the state’s valuable western rock lobsters.

Australia: The long-running industrial dispute at three Chevron gas and LNG facilities is over following a vote by workers to accept a pay and conditions package reported to include annual remuneration of between A$300,000 and A$350,000 (US$190,600 to US$222,000).  

Canada: The main construction work has been completed on TC Energy’s controversial, 670-kilometer Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia. 

Ghana: A shortage of supply in the gas-reliant West African country brought about the worst nationwide power cuts in two years.  

Russia: New U.S. government sanctions on Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project, the first time such measures have directly targeted an LNG export facility in Russia, could have repercussions for the project’s Chinese, French, and Japanese investors. 

U.S.: The country’s LNG exports reached 7.92 million metric tons in October, the second-highest monthly level on record, according to data provider LSEG, and just below April’s record 8.01 million metric tons. Europe remained the main destination for last month’s exports. 

Companies + Markets

Leading rating agency issues demand slump and credit downgrade warning for oil and gas: Following projections from the International Energy Agency last month that global demand for oil and gas will peak this decade, data in a new analysis published by credit rating agency Fitch Ratings forecasts the potential arrival of peak oil by 2025 and a subsequent 60% decline in demand over the period to 2050. Fitch’s report on transition risk for 715 major companies, which assessed their ability to cope with climate risks such as increasingly stringent emissions regulations, also found that the oil and gas sector is the most vulnerable to the material risk of credit downgrades given a general lack of preparedness with feasible emissions reduction plans. With companies placing major emphasis on not yet fully developed carbon-capture technology to tackle emissions, the rating agency called for the pace of investments in low carbon energy “to be accelerated.” (Bloomberg)

Ban on overseas fossil fuel subsidies up for negotiation at the OECD: The EU and the UK are spearheading efforts, ahead of an OECD meeting in Paris next week, to get agreement from the world’s richest countries on ending subsidies for all overseas fossil fuel projects. The Canadian government is reported to be in favor of the UK’s proposal to align loans and guarantees from national export credit agencies (ECAs) with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Oil Change International has estimated that OECD countries’ ECAs channeled US$41 billion per year between 2018 and 2020 to overseas coal, oil, and gas projects, approximately five times their support for clean energy. Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. are expected to put up resistance to the proposals. In the last six months, two U.S. public finance agencies — the Export-Import Bank and the International Development Finance Corporation — have provided almost US$1.5 billion in support of U.S. LNG exports to Europe. (Financial Times, Common Dreams)

Potential U.S. shale moves at odds with interim BP CEO’s transition talk: Weak gas trading results — due to a lack of price volatility — contributed to BP’s lackluster third-quarter earnings of US$3.3 billion that fell short of analysts’ estimates. Interim CEO Murray Auchincloss was quoted as saying that the company is “focused really on transition” to net zero emissions “and not the oil and gas side.” There is, however, no strategy shift from BP’s watering down of its climate targets earlier this year when a 40% planned cut in oil and gas production below 2019 levels by 2030 was downsized to 25%. The comments appeared designed to differentiate the company’s approach from that of ExxonMobil and Chevron whose recent mega-deal takeovers of smaller U.S. producers — moves which Auchinloss was skeptical of — will see increased oil and gas production growth. It has also emerged that BP is looking to expand its production in less high profile ways than the U.S. majors, while also cutting costs, by forming joint ventures with shale gas producers in Louisiana and Texas. Sources told Reuters that the company has discussed joint ventures with companies operating in the Haynesville shale gas basin and is considering similar moves in the Eagle Ford basin. (Reuters, Bloomberg, Reuters)

Challenges expected to Karpowership’s Richards Bay power plant approval: South African environmental group Green Connection has said it will take legal advice regarding the environmental authorization granted by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) for Karpowership’s 450 MW LNG-to-power project at Richards Bay in the Western Cape. The DFEE decision marks a breakthrough for the Turkish company that has been struggling to implement three such projects — with total capacity of 1,200 MW — at South African ports since winning a contract in March 2021 to participate in the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme aimed at adding additional power to the country’s electricity grid. Green Connection and other groups have opposed the powership plans on climate grounds as well as their likely impacts on local fishing and increased power tariffs. The next step for Karpowership will be to achieve financial closure for the Richards Bay project, which has also faced opposition from the Western Cape Provincial Government. (Financial Post, ESI Africa, Argus)

European LNG buyers shifting focus to medium-term, 15-year deals says Chevron: U.S. company Chevron has revealed it is in contract negotiations to supply mostly U.S. LNG into Europe in deals of up to 15 years. According to a company executive, over the last 18 months and since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European buyers have shifted from a preference for spot and short-term LNG supply to longer-term deliveries. “The initial thoughts we were getting out of Europe were ‘we only want LNG for a short period of time because of the energy transition’. What I've seen happening in the last year is that lengths of contracts customers are willing to sign have been extended,” said Colin Parfitt, head of Chevron’s trading, shipping, and pipeline operations. If concluded, Chevron’s 15-year contracts would be significantly less than the recent 27-year deals agreed separately by Eni, Shell, and TotalEnergies with Qatar for supplies into Europe. (Reuters)

Total proceeds with more expansion: Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of TotalEnergies, has provided more clarity on the 27-year LNG supply deal the French energy major recently signed with QatarEnergy, saying that the gas could be diverted to non-European countries if it meets the interests of both parties. Running three years beyond the 2050 net zero target deadline for France and other EU countries, the contract’s duration has raised concerns about extending Europe’s reliance on gas, though Pouyanné also insisted that gas volumes would be required then to complement renewables. The Qatari contract terms stipulate a destination clause, with the LNG to be delivered to the Fos Cavaou import terminal in southern France. Total also announced that France’s first floating LNG import terminal, the 5 billion cubic meters per year capacity Le Havre FSRU, started operations in the last week of October by injecting Norwegian gas into the French grid. In a further development, South Africa’s government has given Total approval to carry out sonar surveys, seabed coring, and well drilling exploration in the prolific Deep Water Orange Basin that extends into Namibia. Environmental group Green Connection said it planned to appeal the approval from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. (Reuters, LNG Prime, Energy Voice)

“I was joking last night about the number of 24 or 25 year-old analysts fresh out of MBA school that we hire who have come into my office and said, I only want to work on renewables. Right out of the gate. I haven’t even met the person before, and that’s the first thing they say to me. I’m like, well, okay, you probably ought to leave now. And so, there’s a big disconnect in society, and all parts of energy kind of sit right at that intersection. And it’s difficult and, and I'll be honest with you, we can make fun of the [protestors] outside, but if we don’t listen to that, we’re in big trouble. You know, the direction of travel is not going our way,” 

said Blair Thomas, the head of U.S. investment firm EIG Global Energy Partners, about the energy transition challenges for the private equity industry. 


Lucrative Reward or Mounting Risk? Mexico’s Growing Reliance on US Gas, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, October 24, 2023. [Pdf, and online]

This 19-page analysis discusses the vulnerabilities attached to Mexico’s heavy reliance on U.S. gas for domestic supply and its fledgling LNG export ambitions. 

Utility Front Group Advertisement Tracker, Energy and Policy Institute

This online tool exposes the social media ad spending of U.S. gas and electric utility front groups that spread targeted misinformation to mislead customers on critical climate and energy issues. 

Mapping the pensions pipeline, Platform

This online tool provides breakdowns of individual UK councils’ contributions to the £16 billion currently being invested globally in fossil fuels by local government pension schemes across the country.