Blog Posts: Fracking

April 6th, 2018

Blog: Europe’s Terminals to Import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Heavily Underused

See the 24 July 2019 updated blog

By Andy Gheorghiu and Frida Kieninger

This month, Food & Water Europe analyzed the utilization rate of EU LNG terminals based on data from Gas Infrastructure Europe. LNG terminals are facilities that enable the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), gas that is cooled down so its volume is reduced by a ratio of 1:600 and can be shipped across the ocean via LNG tankers.

What is a utilization rate, and why does it matter?

The utilization rate is the percentage at which existing LNG infrastructure is actually being used. In other words, if a terminal has an annual import capacity of 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, but only imports 5 bcm, its utilization rate is at 50 percent.

The time period we looked at was from 2012 until early 2018 and it is striking at how little these costly facilities have been used during the past six years. It is important to take into account the low utilization rates since they show clearly that there is no need to invest in more LNG facilities. Nevertheless, there is a push for more LNG terminals in Europe and several of these costly facilities are being planned. If we don’t want to lock Europe into even more fossil fuels and move to a renewable energy system, we cannot waste money on LNG infrastructure but have to channel as much financial and political support as possible to renewables.
Read the full article…

March 23rd, 2018

“Renewable Gas” Is Not Clean or Green

By Frida Kieninger

The fossil fuel industry has been trying hard to promote gas in many forms as “sustainable” or “green”. There are different ways of producing gas that the industry calls renewable, but this term is misleading. Is it sustainable or green to create dependence on waste, cut trees for biomass, and produce methane with the same chemical structure and characteristics as fossil gas?

Why does the fossil fuel industry want to promote the idea of non-fossil gas? As big infrastructure operators generally push for gas use in Europe, using the magic idea of renewable gas is very handy for them to justify decades of infrastructure buildout that serves both fossil and non-fossil gas. The question is: Does it add up? Will these gases significantly reduce CO2 emissions? Where does the feedstock for these gases come from? Does all this make economic sense?

Here are a few of the issues that need to be taken into account when we’re talking about non-fossil “renewable” gas.

Biogas: The Biofuels Deja-vu

Since their introduction, biofuels have earned a lot of criticism for their role in land grabs, displacing food crops for energy, loss of biodiversity, climate change and pollution. While biofuels liquid fuels based on biomass turned out to be a very bad idea, something similar seems to have been re-introduced through the back door: biogas. Biogas is a mix of gases generated through the breakdown of organic matter through anaerobic digestion (digestion in the absence of oxygen).

Feedstock for biogas, for example, can be waste, sewage sludge, energy crops, manure or biomass. Using waste to generate energy can make sense in a few limited cases but we should not lock ourselves into a society dependent on producing enough waste that we can heat our homes or cook. Also, using manure will turn into an issue sooner rather than later, quite apart from the fact that manure does not automatically create methane and to a big extent it can be avoided. Biogas production is no justification for big agribusiness. But in Europe, big factory farms may only get built because they commit to produce biogas.

Read the full article…

March 12th, 2018

More Than 80 Organisations Ask the European Parliament to Stop Supporting Gas Infrastructure

By Frida Kieninger and Antoine T

For the first time, on March 14, Members of the European Parliament will have the opportunity to have their say on the European Union’s list of “Projects of Common Interest” (PCI List), a list of energy infrastructure projects that the EU wants to support and that is adopted every two years by the European Commission.

Despite being the first PCI List adopted after the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the EU, this list keeps ignoring the urgency to fight climate change and contains over 100 fossil fuel projects. Gas infrastructure projects on this list will be granted the highest national priority status and will be able to receive public funds.

Thanks to 82 MEPs from five political groups (Greens-EFA, GUE, EFDD, S&D and ALDE), an objection to this PCI List has been put on the agenda of the next plenary session of the European Parliament.

Over 80 organisations urged Members of European Parliament to adopt this resolution objecting to the PCI List in its current form and asking the European Commission to draft a new list truly compatible with the Paris Agreement.

 

Read the full article…

February 28th, 2018

Frack Off, Ineos: UK Doesn’t Want Fracking for Plastics

by Andy Gheorghiu

Amazing! Inspiring! Unifying! Empowering! Hopeful!

These would be the words I would choose if I’d have to describe my impressions about the “Ineos, Fracking and You” speakers tour that took place in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, North England, in February 2018 — a tour that gave me the opportunity to meet and work with fantastic campaigners and activists (Tony Bosworth, Chris Crean, Simon Bowens and Pollyanna Steiner from FoE EWNI, Steve Mason from Frack Free United, Kit Bennet from Frack Free York, Carol Hutchinson and Dave Kesteven from Eckington Against Fracking, Peter Roberts from Frack Free Ryedale, Matthew Trevelyan from Farmers Against Fracking, Eddie Thornton and Leigh Coghill from the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp as well as Bishop Graham Gray and many many more).

Read the full article…

February 5th, 2018

This Land is Our Land: The Fight to Stop Ineos from Fracking the UK

 The petrochemical giant that wants to frack to make plastic is meeting intense local opposition

by Andy Gheorghiu

The secretive chemical company Ineos has been leading the charge to bring the environmentally destructive method of drilling, known as fracking, to the United Kingdom (UK) and mainland Europe. The company’s goal is to produce cheap gas for its own plastics and petrochemical production. But the company is running into massive public opposition.

The first blow for Ineos came last year, when the Scottish Government voted for an indefinite moratorium on fracking – a proper, democratically supported move that has nonetheless prompted Ineos to launch a legal challenge against it.

Read the full article…

January 16th, 2018

European Activists Invited to Talk About Opposition to Gas Infrastructure in the European Parliament

If you are around Brussels this month, you are more than welcome to participate in our event on 22 January, bringing the voices of anti-gas infrastructure activists to the European Parliament. The event will take place from 13:30-14:30 in room PHS 01C051.

Why is Gas on the EU-Parliament’s Agenda this Month?

On the following day, Tuesday 23 January, the European Commission will talk to Members of Parliament about a new priority list for gas and electricity projects. Food & Water Europe followed the establishment of this list carefully and heavily criticises it because:

  • It is too focused on fossil fuel (gas) infrastructure to the detriment of renewables.
  • Support for subsidizing gas projects is not in line with the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • It is marked by conflicts of interest due to heavy industry involvement.
  • It incentivises the misuse of public money for unneeded fossil fuel projects will end up as stranded assets.

Read the full article…

January 2nd, 2018

Five Unneeded, Costly, Climate Killing Fossil Fuels Projects

A Journey to the EU ‘Priority Projects’

By Frida Kieninger

On November 24, the European Union Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete presented a list of priority gas infrastructure projects, known as the Projects of Common Interest (PCI). While he claimed proudly that this year’s list shows a shift away from gas, a simple question about the real number of gas projects on the list suggests that this is not true.

In fact, the EU-Commission tried to artificially decrease the number of fossil gas projects with a simple accounting trick, by clustering projects. When counting this year’s list in the same way as the last two PCI lists, it contains even more gas projects than ever before.

A total of over 90 gas infrastructure projects will be on the 2017 PCI list. All of them are costly, unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure, which will curb much-needed investments in clean energy and energy saving measures.

Read the full article…

December 18th, 2017

Meet the European Petrochemical Giant Trying to Profit from the Fracking of Pennsylvania

The Controversial Mariner East 2 Pipeline Would Carry Gas Liquids for Plastics Production Overseas

By Wenonah Hauter

It seems that every week brings more bad news about the construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline. While Pennsylvania communities, water protectors and landowners fight to stop the project, a larger question remains: What is this massive, dangerous pipeline actually for? The one word answer might surprise you: plastics.

The Mariner East 2 won’t carry “natural gas” for heating your house or operating a stove. It will transport highly volatile liquids that will mostly be shipped overseas to be turned into plastics by a giant chemical corporation with a terrible environmental record.

Ineos’s pro-fracking agenda has spawned a citizen movement in Europe, where residents are fighting to prevent the company’s plans to frack the United Kingdom.

In other words, Sunoco and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners are putting Pennsylvania communities at risk—from the immediate negative impacts of fracking in the western parts of the state, to the long-term risks to families living near the 350-mile pipeline—in order to supply a giant corporation making plastic pellets, many of which wind up littering shorelines across Europe.

My organization, Food & Water Watch, has been digging deep into Ineos, the massive chemical conglomerate profiting from the fracked gas liquids out of Pennsylvania. Ineos founder and chairman Jim Ratcliffe amassed his petrochemical empire in short order, thanks to risky bets and highly leveraged takeovers and acquisitions. The Mariner East 2 pipeline represents one more dangerous Ineos “innovation”—it delivers fracked hydrocarbons to the Marcus Hook facility near Philadelphia, where they are loaded onto the company’s “dragon ships” headed to facilities in Scotland and Norway.

Read the full article…

December 12th, 2017

Fighting Big Oil and Gas in Northern Germany

by Andy Gheorghiu and Frida Kieninger

Photo by: Christian Eckhardt

Natural gas plant near Großenkneten
Photo by: Christian Eckhardt

On 2 December, a number of German citizens’ initiatives[1] met with Food & Water Europe in Hamburg to discuss oil and gas exploration in the country and strategies for the coming year.

The main points discussed were planned exploration in a water protection area in Verden, Lower Saxony, an international project by Hansa Hydrocarbons to drill for gas in the North Sea (nearby the Wadden Sea), and the construction of a terminal to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Brunsbüttel port.

New drilling in a water protection area?

Read the full article…

December 7th, 2017

Global Frackdown 2017: Letters from Mexico

Anti-fracking event VeracruzMexico has been identified as having significant shale oil and gas potential and the Mexican government appears keen to develop its shale resources.

Meanwhile, more and more Mexicans are becoming aware of the dangers of fracking and are mobilizing to oppose plans to sell off clean air and water as well as healthy communities to the incessant greed for profit of big oil and gas companies.

Read the full article…

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