September 7, 2023
Issue 51  |  View Past Issues
Inside Gas
Published by Global Energy Monitor

Editor's Note

As Australia enters a spring season that’s predicted to be warmer and drier than average, the potential forerunner of a seriously catastrophic summer Down Under, alarm bells over the federal government’s backing for gas expansion are being sounded. A parliamentary inquiry into the implications of a major fracking-LNG export complex proposed for development in the Northern Territory has been given the green light at the third time of asking. A new report, which packages the rapidly accumulating global evidence of the impacts of methane on human health and the climate, also aims to persuade Canberra to think again about close to 50 significant oil and gas projects still in planning. 

The Biden administration’s rollercoaster approach to oil and gas continues with a landmark announcement that will substantially protect the Alaskan wilderness from further drilling. In South Africa, negotiating tools for a Turkish company’s attempts to advance one of its floating gas-to-power projects have entered into “unchartered territory.” As this week’s Gastech conference in Singapore concludes, a longtime energy commentator goes beyond the industry’s back-slapping and reflects on how all the latest talk of LNG growth rests on some shaky premises. 

Grieg Aitken


Europe’s gas storage success story obscures vulnerabilities

Gas storage levels may have hit the target three months ahead of schedule, but the harsh reality is that for at least another two or three winters, the continent will have to hope for mild weather without major interruptions to global LNG supply if it is to avoid significant gas price spikes, writes Professor Michael Bradshaw in The Conversation

Could BRICS membership trigger fresh upstream investments for Egypt?

Western upstream players are piling into Egypt with a string of billion dollar investments recently announced. Longer term, they may be joined by Chinese, Russian, and Indian companies once Egypt joins the BRICS group of countries next year, writes Iain Esau in Upstream.

LNG conference hype belies some tough realities

Amid much bullish optimism this week at Gastech, the industry’s largest gathering, some pretty big bets were lurking, chiefly that renewables won’t be cost-competitive in Asia and that carbon capture and storage can be successfully deployed at scale, writes Clyde Russell in Reuters.

The European Parliament must say no to ex-Shell man’s candidacy for top EU climate job 

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen has nominated Dutch politician Wopke Hoekstra to become the new European Commissioner for Climate Action. His background at Shell and much else besides makes Hoekstra unfit for the key portfolio, writes Martha Myers of the Corporate Europe Observatory in Euronews.
Three big steps to ensure a role for LNG in Asia

LNG growth in Asian markets still faces substantial hurdles, including the introduction of carbon prices to unseat coal’s dominant position, the liberalization of the region’s gas markets, and the development of regional hubs, write Simon Flowers, Gavin Thompson, and Massimo Di Odoardo for Wood Mackenzie.

Top News

U.S. government cancels all remaining oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, bans drilling in 13 million acres of the Western Arctic: The Biden administration has moved to cancel seven Trump-era oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to polar bears and caribou, while also issuing protections against drilling in more than 13 million acres of land in the federal National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). Among the native communities that welcomed the announcement, the Arctic Village and Venetie Tribal governments commented: “This is a significant step towards true, meaningful protection of these lands that are so vital to the survival of our people now and into the future.” Under the announced measures, the U.S. Interior Department would propose banning drilling from 10.6 million acres inside the NPR-A along Alaska’s North Slope — approximately 40% of total acreage in the reserve — while limiting drilling activity in another 2.6 million acres. The new protections do not affect ConocoPhillips’ US$7 billion Willow oil project, also located inside the NPR-A, that received approval from the White House earlier this year. (CNN, Politico)

Report warns Australian government of the risks of oil and gas development for human health and well-being: A new report, led by the University of Sydney at the request of concerned pediatricians in Australia’s Northern Territory, where a massive gas fracking development is being planned at the Beetaloo Basin, has laid out extensive evidence demonstrating “the multiple direct and indirect health and wellbeing risks from oil and gas developments.” The report authors reviewed over 300 peer-reviewed studies that have captured a wide range of harmful impacts in an increasingly sophisticated and precise manner. Medical practitioners in Australia have become more and more alarmed at the range of new hydrocarbon extraction and export projects still slated for development as temperatures and the number of extreme fire incidents continue to soar year on year. In addition to Beetaloo, a further 48 oil and gas projects are in the planning stage in Australia. Studies into the potential impacts of these developments are outdated and thus do not take account of the findings of the most recent scientific investigations, the report points out. (The University of Sydney [Pdf], The University of Sydney, The Guardian)

More embarrassment for COP28 boss as ADNOC accused of huge oil and gas capex plans: New analysis from Global Witness projects that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), headed up by Sultan Al Jaber, the president of this year’s COP28 climate summit, will deploy an average of US$1.14 billion a month on oil and gas production between now and 2030. Basing its analysis on proprietary data sourced from Rystad Energy showing ADNOC’s forecasted oil and gas capital expenditure, exploratory capital expenditure, and operational expenditure, the international NGO calculated that the company’s overall oil and gas spending will be almost seven times higher than its recently announced commitment to allocate US$15 billion by 2030 for investment in low-carbon solutions such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. An ADNOC spokesperson refuted the projections, saying that they were based on assumptions that went beyond the company’s current five-year business plan up to 2027, making them “speculative and therefore incorrect.” The embarrassing allegations came as ADNOC announced it had taken a final investment decision on the Habshan CCS project in the UAE that, when completed, will triple the company’s carbon capture capacity to 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year. (CNBC, Reuters)

East Mediterranean gas diplomacy makes progress: Cyprus and Israel are edging closer to an agreement on how to export East Mediterranean gas to the EU following a meeting of their leaders in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia alongside Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that cooperation on gas exporting with Cyprus remains on the table and decisions will be made “in the next three to six months, probably closer to three months.” A 300-kilometer subsea pipeline linking gas fields off Israel to Cyprus has been proposed that would see gas being converted to LNG in Cyprus and then shipped to Europe. Separately, the Biden administration has said it is backing Chevron in a dispute between the company and the Cypriot government over further development of the major Aphrodite gas field, which lies 160 kilometers southeast of Cyprus. Nicosia has so far balked at recent proposals from Chevron to send Aphrodite gas via a new subsea pipeline and existing infrastructure to Egypt, where the gas can be sold in the domestic market or liquefied and shipped to Europe. (Reuters, Reuters)  

Battle hotting up over “long-overdue modernization” of U.S. pipeline leaks regulation: The gloves are starting to come off between a federal agency and the U.S. oil and gas industry over a proposed rule that aims — by next year — to finally tackle the millions of tons of climate warming methane that continue to leak into the atmosphere from the nation’s gas infrastructure. A legacy of a law signed by former president Donald Trump in 2020, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is seeking to reduce pipeline emissions by 50% by requiring oil and gas companies to conduct monthly surveys of their systems with advanced leak detection equipment and then repair any identified problems in good time. Pipeline industry bodies are up in arms at the proposed measures, which they estimate will cost their sector more than US$500 million per year, and Republican senators including Ted Cruz from Texas have recently written to the agency accusing it of overreach. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, “We are proposing a long-overdue modernization of the way we identify and fix methane leaks, thereby reducing emissions and strengthening protections for the American people.” (Houston Chronicle)

Australian government concedes to parliamentary inquiry into controversial Middle Arm project: Amid growing public and political pressure, the Australian Senate is to launch an inquiry into the proposed Middle Arm gas and petrochemicals hub at Darwin harbor, a project branded by its promoters as a “sustainable development precinct.” The Australian government consented to the inquiry by the upper house of the national parliament following the tabling of a motion by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young. “Greenwashing gas and ‘petrochemicals’ as renewables means this entire project requires closer scrutiny,” commented Hanson-Young. Kirsty Howey, the executive director of the Environment Centre NT, an environment organization in the Northern Territory, reacted to the setting up of the inquiry, saying, “Australians deserve to know how A$1.5bn in taxpayer money has been promised for what is essentially a massive fossil fuel expansion.” The Senate inquiry will investigate the likely and intended future uses of the Middle Arm site, the funding intentions of the federal and Northern Territory governments, and the project’s impacts on climate, health, and cultural heritage. (The Guardian)


Brazil: Petrobas and China National Offshore Oil Company have deepened their ties with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation that includes enhanced collaboration on oil and gas exploration and development.

Canada: BP has signed a third long-term LNG supply deal with Woodfibre’s LNG terminal in British Columbia, which is currently under construction. The deal means that all of the LNG production from the facility is committed for sale to BP.

Canada: Enbridge has announced its intention to buy three utilities from Dominion Energy in a US$14 billion deal that would create North America's largest gas provider. The Canadian pipeline operator said it expected the deal to be finalized in 2024 subject to approval from U.S. regulators.

Colombia: Joining initially as a “friend” of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, Colombia has become the first Amazonian and first major oil and gas producing country to sign up to the international initiative, through which governments and stakeholders work together to facilitate the managed phase-out of oil and gas production.  

Malaysia: Petronas has announced that it is permanently closing a section of its 512-kilometer Sabah Sarawak Gas Pipeline, which had previously been feeding the Petronas LNG Complex in Bintalu, due to subsidence and safety concerns. 

Moldova: Via its Moldovan subsidiary Vestmoldtransgaz, the Romanian energy company Transgaz has taken over gas operations, exploitation, and transmission in Moldova from Moldovatransgaz, the main shareholder of which is Gazprom. 

Mozambique: Force majeure on the US$20 billion Mozambique LNG export terminal project may be lifted by TotalEnergies in the coming weeks. 

Russia: Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has claimed on Telegram that the company has supplied more than half of the increase in China’s gas imports over the first eight months of this year via the Power of Siberia pipeline. 

Ukraine: UkrGasVydobuvannya, a subsidiary of the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz Group, has opened a new gas field with potential reserves of 1 bcm. Naftogaz has said it commissioned eleven new gas wells in the first half of 2023, each capable of producing more than 100,000 cubic meters of gas per day. 

U.S.: To provide “insurance against high or volatile natural gas prices” this winter, California regulators approved a 27 billion cubic feet storage capacity expansion at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility in Los Angeles, the site of the U.S.’s biggest methane leak, which forced the evacuation of more than 8,000 households in 2015.

U.S.: LNG exporter Venture Global has signed an agreement with energy services firm Baker Hughes that it says will boost its current production capacity of 70 million tons per annum (mtpa) to more than 100 mtpa.

Venezuela: Shell and Trinidad and Tobago’s National Gas Company are reportedly close to agreeing on a US$1 billion payment to Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PDVSA for development of the Dragon gas field (estimated reserves of 4.2 trillion cubic feet) that lies in Venezuelan waters.  

Companies + Markets

Strike action at Chevron’s Australian LNG terminals delayed, may be averted: The deadline for initial partial industrial action by workers at the Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG terminals, originally planned to get underway on September 7, was moved to 6 a.m. local Perth time on September 8 and then shifted to 1 p.m. local time, as mediation talks over pay and conditions continued with the plants’ operator Chevron. As the two terminals make up 6% of global LNG supply, the significance of potential disruption remains high for global markets, though European prices for futures contracts have remained calm throughout the week amid growing expectation that a bargaining resolution will be reached. The extension of talks is thought to have substantially reduced the possibility of full work stoppages at the LNG terminals that labor unions have threatened would begin from September 14 and last for two weeks. (Reuters, Reuters)   

Game, offset, but no match yet for Karpowership as unusual compensation proposal comes under the microscope: In the ongoing saga over Karpowership’s efforts to clear environmental hurdles for its gas-to-power projects in the Western Cape, details have emerged of how the Turkish company has offered to buy and donate a privately-owned game farm to the South African government if it is granted environmental authorization for one of its three proposed projects, the 540 megawatt Richards Bay floating power plant. The 1,750-hectare Madaka Game Ranch, reportedly a popular hunting destination for North American tourists, has become a potential last resort bargaining chip owing to complications surrounding a biodiversity offset scheme that Karpowership is required to enter into in order to compensate for the high risk of project impacts to threatened species such as flamingos and pelicans at Richards Bay. The Karpowership project site is officially deemed to be a threat to one of the world’s most important sites for migratory birds. The proposed game farm option as “ecological compensation” for the South African state has been described as “unchartered territory” by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which manages the Richards Bay Estuary. A final project decision from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is pending. (Daily Maverick)

Major CCS project in Texas attracts international investors thanks to IRA subsidies: Subsidies made available for carbon capture and storage projects by the U.S. government under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are attracting overseas investors, with the general trading and energy exploration division of South Korean steel company POSCO and its consortium partners named this week as the preferred bidder for a major new CCS facility offshore of Corpus Christi in Texas. The carbon storage hub, well positioned off the Texas coast to cater to a dense concentration of oil and gas extraction projects, is set to have an overall storage capacity of more than 600 million metric tons of CO2. The IRA subsidy regime offers companies up to US$85 per ton. The POSCO division has established a dedicated U.S. entity, POSCO International CCS USA LLC, and says it is looking to pick up additional CCS projects in the country. (The Korea Economic Daily)

Shell opted for quick fixes at problematic Prelude terminal — industry sources: At the end of last year, three unnamed industry sources have told Reuters, Shell was considering closing down its Prelude LNG export terminal off the west coast of Australia for a year to carry out extensive repair work, but chose not to as it would have meant missing out on highly lucrative LNG sales at a time of very high market demand. Instead, the company is currently in the middle of a two-month maintenance programme at Prelude that will not be able to address all of the 3.6 mtpa terminal’s design issues, the sources said. The A$24 billion (US$15 billion) facility has been dogged by technical problems and various outages, including after two fire incidents, since it came online in 2019. A senior Shell executive said at this week’s Gastech conference in Singapore that the company is considering LNG investment projects in North America and Africa that could start operating after 2030. (Reuters,, Bloomberg) 

Sochi meeting provides few new details on Türkiye-Russia “gas hub” plan: Following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Vladimir Putin offered little substance on the state of play with a proposed joint gas hub initiative between the two countries, stating: “I hope that in the very near future we will complete our negotiations.” According to Putin, a joint working group still has to be created to discuss the legal framework for the hub and agree on trading rules. The gas-trading hub concept was floated by the Kremlin last October as a potential means for the rerouting of Russian gas to both Europe and the rest of the world after European countries made sharp cuts in their direct imports of piped Russian gas in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some gas analysts have expressed skepticism about the hub proposal due to a current lack of available export pipeline capacity from Türkiye. Putin also acknowledged that 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas had been supplied to Türkiye in the first eight months of this year, compared to overall flows in 2022 of 21.5 bcm. (Bloomberg, Deutsche Welle)

Floating LNG capacity tipped for significant boost: U.S.-based engineering and construction group Black & Veatch (B&V) has predicted that global floating LNG terminal capacity will more than quadruple by 2030 to 46.4 mtpa, starting with a significant uptick before the end of this year. B&V, which is said to be involved in the construction of roughly half of the FLNG plants currently in development globally, is basing its projection on the fact that floating plants have become cost-competitive with fixed, onshore terminals for smaller projects. The company acknowledged, however, that a shortage of vessels and a relative lack of shipyard experience with floating projects could impede expansion of the sector. (Reuters)

Technip Energies unveils rapid installation, decarbonized LNG production concept: French engineering firm Technip Energies has announced the launch of a new product offering called “SnapLNG” comprising pre-engineered LNG train modules that can be delivered to LNG production sites for immediate installation with little to no adjustments needed. The train modules offer 2.5 mtpa of capacity and are electronically driven, allowing for a reduction of roughly 350 kilotons equivalent per year of CO2 emissions per train compared to a standard gas turbine solution, the company says. A further facet of this new “standardized solution for LNG production,” Technip claims, is that it can save developers more than two years on total project duration compared to a conventional LNG design project. (Technip Energies, LNG Prime) 


Powering progress, not poverty: Moving beyond gas to real energy solutions for people living in poverty, Tearfund, September 5, 2023. [Pdf]

This 28-page report looks at the “gas-for-development” and “gas-for-communities” claims that are accompanying efforts to expand large-scale infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries, shows why those claims are untrue, and explains why renewable energies are a better development and climate solution for both the climate and local communities.

The Industry Agenda: Hydrogen, Revolving Door Project, September 6, 2023. [Pdf]

This 34-page report examines the influence agenda — backed up by industry allies within the Biden administration — of the rapidly growing “clean” hydrogen industry, which is poised to receive tens of billions of dollars of funding and tax credits from the U.S. federal government over the next few years.