Blog Posts: Fracking

September 6th, 2018

Canadian & German Groups Team Up to Fight Germany’s Climate-hostile Fracked Gas LNG Terminals Game

by Andy Gheorghiu

In our “Fracking & LNG Ghosts of Gas Addicted Germany (Part I and II)“ blogs we’ve already highlighted the destructive and hyprocritical climate policy of Germany.

The country is a big supporter of the controversial and unneeded Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will pour another 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas into Central and Eastern Europe, finally locking the European Union into the Russian fossil addiction.

At the same time, the German government is also wasting €1.2 billion of taxpayers public money on the Southern Gas Corridor, the mega pipeline that the EU Commission subsidizes in the hope to be able to by-pass Russian gas-transit networks.

The German government is also providing a budget of €4.75 million for fracking research projects, welcomes propopals for the construction of the first LNG terminals in Germany, and wants to invest more public money in a fracked gas LNG terminal in Nova Scotia, Canada. German business market analysts have clearly highlighted the stranded assets related to these projects and have called them “foreseable investment ruins“.

According to the project report and financial analysis paper of Laurentian Bank Securities Equity Research, the company Pieridae Energy Limited is “On Track to Become Canada’s First Major LNG Exporter”.

Pieridae wants to build the LNG Goldboro terminal in Nova Scotia to export fracked shale gas from Canada (Alberta, British Colombia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Sable Island) and Pennsylvania (the Marcellus Shale). According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, gas production from shale (Duvernay Formation) is expected to continue to grow – particulary driven by the presence of wet gas (natural gas liquids) that have increasingly become the focus of the petrochemical industry that uses the fracked wet gas (i.e. ethane) component to produce plastics and petrochemicals. The American Chemistry Council has highlighted in April 2018 that major chemical investment is linked to shale gas, with 325 projects in the US alone cumulatively valued at $194 billlion in capital investment announced since 2010. Pennsylvania could indeed become the world’s new petrochemical hub.

It’s worth mentioning in this context that petrochemical giant Dow Chemical, a developer for fracking proppants, and Yara, the so-called “Exxons of agriculture“ are the foreseeable major buyers of LNG  in the cases of the proposed terminals at Stade and Brunsbüttel. This is again highlighting the growing hunger of the petrochemical industry for cheap fracked gas and it shows that these projects have nothing to do with the energy supply for German households.

Pieradae states that the two most obvious areas that provide readily available gas for the Goldboro facility are western Canada and the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania.The company has entered into a 20-year LNG sales agreement on a take-or-pay basis of 4.8 million metric tonnes per annum (6.7 bcm) with German Uniper, the company that’s a financial investor of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and is also involved in the Southern Gas Corridor project. Uniper’s partner Pieridae has qualified for US$3.1 billion under the United Loan Guarantee (Garantien für Ungebundene Finanzkredite or UFK) programme of the German government.

Confronted with the fact that Germany has a fracking moratorium for shale gas in place but nonethless intends to invest in importing fracked gas from the U.S. and Canada, the German government answered that a) fracked gas could help diversify the gas supply of Germany and Europe and b) Germany has issued only a “Letter of Interest” to financially support the project, but this doesn’t equal a proper loan yet.

But the fun factor doesn’t end here. Pieridae (which is trying to get the money together for this not only enviromentally but also economically very risky project) announced in August 2018 the appointment of the German state-owned KfW IPEX-Bankas an adviser in assisting it to finalize a multibillion USD untied loan guarantee from the German federal government under its UFK program (Garantien für ungebundene Finanzkredite).“ In July 2018, Pieridae apparently requested the German government increase the amount of the guarantee from the US$3.1 billion.

Initiated by Gastivists Berlin, German groups – together with Food & Water Europe – have now teamed up with Canadian activists and NGOs and have urged the German Federal Environmental and Energy Ministries in a joint open letter not to award Pieridae the financial guarantee it would need to succeed with its climate-hostile LNG Goldboro terminal. The letter highlights that several crucial points make clear that the financial guarantee is not in the interest of the economy, the climate or the environment, clearly stating that this investment not only undermines Germany’s intended role as an international pioneer in tackling the climate crisis but also has negative impacts for local communities in the affected regions in Canada and the U.S.

The Canadian Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC) and the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance have underlined the trans-atlantic joint demands by sending follow-up letters to the German government describing these concerns, and the big opposition in Canada against fracking and against this project in particular.

Together, we will join forces across the Atlantic to stop this madness. Collectively, we won’t allow the German government to greenwash itself with the claim that it has banned fracking while at the same time supporting fracking gas LNG projects that make no sense whatsoever with public money.

That’s not how we are rightfully expecting Germany to play the role of the climate hero it could be. We all know that 4th biggest world economy can and must do much better than that.

Links:

Open letter to German government (EN, DE, FR)

Letter from NOFRAC and Guysborough Communities Coalition

Letter from New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

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Don’t forget to join the Global Day of Action (13th October) against fossil fuels, fracking, petrochemicals & plastics – Gas Down Frack Down Rise Up! Join the movement and sign up on

People Power Blocks Extraction at Europe’s Biggest Gas Field for Fifty Hours

On 30 August, what was likely the largest mass civil disobedience action against gas extraction in the Netherlands to date came to an end after protesters managed to block important infrastructure for the extraction supply chain for 50 hours. The Dutch government plans to phase out gas extraction in the field, but what is planned is too little, too late.

About 700 Dutch and neighboring Europeans gathered to peacefully protest against the ongoing gas extraction in Groningen. After participating in an action camp in the days leading up to the action, activists marched, danced and cycled to a gas tank farm in Delfzijl. Things seemed calm at first, but shockingly, Dutch police soon started to repeatedly make use of sticks to

The Main Message of the Protest: Fight the Climate Crisis

In 2017, similar cases happened during a mass disobedience action in Germany, in an area close to Cologne that is about to be sacrificed to coal extraction. It is critical that these violations of our human rights get attention and face consequences to protect what is left of our democracies, which are yielding more and more to corporate interests and deploying the police like private security for industry giants like ExxonMobil, Shell, Cuadrilla or Wintershall. Still, we must also make sure that the main message of these peaceful protests does not get lost: The climate crisis is real, and it is here, now. And it is our responsibility to fight it.

Human activities, and particularly our continued use of all fossil fuels, oil, coal and gas, are the main drivers of the current extreme weather, floods, droughts, crop losses, etc. that we see. While oil and coal have a bad name already, this is not so much the case for gas: it is often sold as a clean, green climate solution, and alternative ways of generating so called “renewable gas” are often promoted as a silver bullet but are mainly an excuse for the industry to continue promoting fossil gas.

Only basic knowledge of math is needed to realize that our carbon budget is melting fast and that we cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions with natural gas. We need to kick all fossil fuels out of the equation to reach an economy able to keep our world a livable place.

The “Gas Colony” is Fighting Back

Many people from the Groningen region welcome the protests and the awareness it creates for their struggles nationally and internationally. And the climate is not the only issue connected to gas extraction: Groningen is Europe’s biggest gas field and estimated to be the ninth biggest in the world. Food & Water Europe wrote in 2016 about the environmental, economic and societal impacts that gas extraction, which started in the area over fifty years ago, has had on Groningen. Because of thousands of earthquakes triggered by gas drilling, more and more houses there get cracks, become dangerous to live in and unsellable, and ultimately break down. Groningen inhabitants call this a “drama in slow motion” and say that they are the Netherland’s “gas colony”, carrying the consequences of gas extraction with ridiculously little compensation – while big corporations make billions selling the gas within the country and to neighboring states such as Germany, Belgium or France.

Gas Down Frack Down – Rise Up! Action Day on 13 October

But there is hope! The Groningen protest is not the only action against fossil fuels and gas. On and around 13 October, people from all over the planet will stand up and join the Global Action day against gas and fracking. The Global Gasdown-Frackdown connects individuals, grassroots activists and NGOs – everyone who want to show with creative, colorful activities that the worldwide movement against fossil fuels is growing – and winning! Learn more here.

August 13th, 2018

We’re Literally Eating and Drinking Plastic. Fossil Fuels Are To Blame.

Originally posted on Food & Water Watch.

Download the fact sheet

By Darcey Rakestraw

Care about plastic pollution? Then it’s time to work to start moving away from fossil fuels.

Plastic is a serious problem, and it’s time we addressed it at its source: fossil fuel production. Plastics are increasingly fueled by fracking in the U.S.—the extreme method of extracting fossil fuels that is polluting our air and our water, and exacerbating climate change. Fracking provides the cheap raw materials for plastics production, which has lead industry publication Plastics News to say fracking “represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity.” More fracking equals more profit in plastics (which equals, you guessed it…more plastics.)
Read the full article…

July 12th, 2018

The Two Faces of the EU Commission’s Gas Narrative: Arguments Against Nord Stream 2 Completely Ignored in Discussions Around EU Priority Gas Projects

By Frida Kieninger

A while ago, the European Commission published another briefing paper about Nord Stream 2. A steadfast opponent of the planned big underwater pipeline aiming at expanding the gas transport capacity between Germany and Russia through the Baltic Sea, the Commission brings a set of arguments pointing to several reservations in connection with the project.

Interestingly, they use the same line of argument they completely ignore when it comes to other pipeline projects, particularly the Commission’s list of priority infrastructure projects, the PCI (Projects of Common Interest) list.

Nord Stream 2 Vs. the Commission’s Priority Projects: Stick and Carrot?

Having a closer look at some of the arguments, it is striking how contradictory the Commission’s narrative is on the project in question. The briefing paper laments that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline “would cost billions of euros that could be spent in other priority segments of the economy and the energy sector” and that the pipeline’s economic rationale ignores EU objectives on energy efficiency, renewables and research and innovation.

This is a warning that NGOs and grassroots groups have sounded several times in connection with the large amounts of money the EU Commission granted and will continue granting to several projects of common interest. In order to have a chance to stay well below 2 degrees of global warming, direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels have to cease; in particular, public money must not be invested in backward-looking technologies locking us into further decades of fossil gas use.
Read the full article…

July 9th, 2018

The Fracking & LNG Ghosts of Gas Addicted Germany (Part II of II)

by Andy Gheorghiu

Read Part I

Alleged “Frack-Free” Germany

Many people think that Germany has banned fracking but this is not completely true. And even the existing partial ban is at risk at the moment.

Let’s have a look at the legal framework: In Germany, fracking is officially banned outright in shale and coal bed methane layers until 2021. However, with the approval of an expert panel established in June 2018, up to four fracking research projects in these layers might be allowed and conducted.

In addition, fracking and fracking waste disposal is also prohibited in designated water protection areas, areas with water bodies linking to natural lakes or dams that serve as public water supplies, areas with wells for the production of beverages or drinks, or areas that fall under the water security law.

However, the details of Germany’s current fracking legal framework reveal a number of cracks. Just as in the UK, nature protection zones and national parks appear to be protected. However, this protection only applies to the construction of facilities related to fracking projects directly in the park. It does not prohibit drilling projects from being authorised just outside the protected areas. This allows operators to drill horizontally under them, thereby putting these restricted areas at risk.

The legislation also includes a ban on fracking within the European nature protection zones, the so-called Natura-2000 areas, but this only covers the construction of facilities related to shale gas and coal bed methane projects. In other words, other kinds of tight gas or oil development involving the use of fracking would be allowed. Tight gas is usually extracted from sandstone or limestone layers. The ongoing lobbying of the oil and gas industry has been so sucessfull that the German government has even re-branded sandstone and limestone layers as “conventional layers’ in order to creat the artificial term of “conventional fracking” – which helps tight gas fracking bypass the otherwise applicable ban.

Furthermore, an official request to the German government revealed that Germany provides public funding of €4.75 million towards the above-mentioned fracking research projects.

With this policy, the German government undermines its own goal of being a climate protection leader.

Read the full article…

June 26th, 2018

Fracked US LNG Torpedoes Ireland‘s Dreams of A Fossil-free Future

by Andy Gheorghiu

The Green Island is on a positive path towards a fossil-free future. However, things are far from perfect and the country might even miss the 2020 climate targets, which could force Ireland to pay fines of up to €600m.

But despite the hard economic struggles that the small and proud nation had to navigate through, Ireland made some real progress towards a sustainable, clean energy future.

Green Island banned onshore fracking and wants to divest from fossil fuels

In the Summer of 2017, the Ireland banned onshore fracking, enacting the best formulated fracking ban legislation in Europe. It doesn’t include “offshore” fracking, but Irish activists won’t stop until offshore fracking is also banned.

Previously, in January 2017, the Irish Parliament (Dàil) had voted in favour of divesting coal, oil and gas holdings from the €8 billion Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill is set to go to report stage ahead of the Dáil’s 2018 summer recess.

In April 2018, on Earth Day, a group of several Catholic institutions (including the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery and Sisters of Mercy, from the Northern Province in Ireland) announced a partial divestment from the fossil fuel industry – as did the Church of Ireland in May 2018. These developments should also encourage the Catholic Church of Ireland to do something against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the country.
Read the full article…

June 14th, 2018

Your Petition To ExxonMobil – the European Parliament MUST Act

ExxonMobil has lied about the facts of climate change for decades.

Ask the European Parliament to hold the oil and gas giant accountable for its disinformation campaign!

Send an email or tweet to the coordinators of the petition campaign:

Send an email to: [email protected]

Send an email to: [email protected]

Sample email: Subject: Support petition 0900/2016 – hold ExxonMobil accountable for its climate-change denial campaign

For half a century, ExxonMobil knows that its fossil fuel activities aggravate climate change. Nevertheless, the company decided to hide these facts and started a disinformation campaign. Today, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil is active in several EU Member States and among the biggest greenhouse gas emitters globally. While in the US an initially promising vigorous push to hold the corporation accountable was recently stalled, it is crucial that the issue is discussed at EU level. The EU has to protect its citizens and companies such as ExxonMobil have to be required to provide honest and transparent information – a request which is certainly not conflicting with freedom of speech.

I am asking you, a representative of the European Parliament, to take appropriate measures and do everything possible to convince ExxonMobil to act in line with the Paris Agreement and communicate the evidence of climate change appropriately.

Kind regards, ________

Sample tweet: #ExxonKnew about climate change since the 70s-yet they lied about it. @peter_jahr @beatrizbecerrab please support petition 0900/2016 on ExxonMobil during the upcoming Coordinators meeting and protect EU citizens from the #oil& #gas giant’s denial campaigns! #beyondgas #beyondoil

Do you want to know more about this issue?

Read about the ExxonMobil climate change denial campaign in our blog.

May 22nd, 2018

We Prevented a Bad Change to Environmental Law – For Now

Change to ASEA law would have enabled conflicts of interest in environmental monitoring of fossil fuel industry in Mexico

This is the translation of a blog written by the Mexican Alliance Against Fracking (Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking), a coalition of 40 local, state and national organizations in Mexico advocating for a ban on fracking. Food & Water Watch is part of this coalition.

Thanks to the work of organizations supported by citizens and some lawmakers, we managed to prevent a legislative proposal that would have possibly enabled dangerous conflicts of interest in the environmental monitoring authority of the fossil fuels sector in Mexico.

Two weeks before the end of the last legislative session, the Committee on Environment and Human Resources of the Chamber of Deputies passed an amendment to change the Law of the National Agency of Industrial Security and Environmental Protection in the fossil fuel sector (ASEA). The Mexican Alliance Against Fracking (Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking) set out to assess this proposal, then reported on the significant risks it posed.

With the passage of energy reform in Mexico in 2013, ASEA was created to follow environmental issues specific to fossil fuel development. This has meant that instead of Mexico’s federal environmental agency (Semarnat) plus the environmental attorney’s office (Profepa) that have traditionally been in charge of all environmental issues, Mexico now has ASEA that oversees drafting regulations and permitting, monitoring, and sanctioning oil and gas companies. This agency has been bad news for communities and great news for the industry, because all permits have been fast tracked. This agency has shown significant deficiencies, including a clear distance to communities affected by contamination through fossil fuel operations.
Read the full article…

May 16th, 2018

This Fracking Profiteer You’ve Never Heard of Is the Richest Man in the UK

Ineos CEO James Ratcliffe makes a fortune from fracking in the U.S. Now he wants to frack the UK—but community resistance is stopping him

The British media are buzzing about a big change at the top: The richest man in the UK, it turns out, is now a fabulously wealthy chemical CEO who tries to keep a low profile.

Jim Ratcliffe made it to the very top of the Sunday Times’ “Rich List” with a fortune of around $28 billion. Many of the stories about him point out that he is publicity shy and came from relatively humble beginnings, amassing considerable wealth all on his own.

But Ratcliff’s road to riches sounds pretty familiar: it was paved with risky corporate takeovers, a hostility to workers’ rights, and a willingness to cut corners on safety and violate environmental regulations the world over.

While he might be eager to avoid the spotlight, Food & Water Watch has been raising awareness about Ineos on both sides of the Atlantic. Ineos is a petrochemical giant that relies on fracking to provide the raw materials to create plastics around the world. The company has amassed a terrifying record of environmental and public health disasters—air and climate pollution, massive fires and other industrial accidents, and alarming emissions of carbon dioxide. He’s already benefitting from fracking in Pennsylvania, where communities are fighting the Mariner East 2 pipeline that would bring even more raw materials to the UK for Ineos to convert into plastics for profit.

But Ratcliffe wants more. His nightmare vision for the UK is to bring fracking to Scotland and England. The company holds valuable shale licenses and aims to start drilling in sensitive areas in both countries.

Read the full article…

April 19th, 2018

Dolphins or LNG tankers in the Shannon Estuary?

Have your say on the building of a huge fracked gas LNG terminal by May 13th.

Ireland banned fracking but Sambolo Resources wants to open one of Europe’s biggest projects to process fracked material in a Shannon Estuary nature reserve where whales and dolphins swim. Right now, they’re trying to renew planning permission with An Bord Pleanála – who have acted very strangely.

The proposed plant is called Shannon LNG and it is huge: the proposed final maximum regasification capacity of at least 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year would equal the European Union’s most ambitious gas project, the Southern Gas Corridor, and supply Ireland’s fossil gas needs twice over. Fracked hydrocarbons would be tankered in from the United States, processed and much of it then sent to Europe. This project is a game changer, especially in jittery Brexit times.

Read the full article…

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