Blog Posts

September 19th, 2018

The Tiny Corner Of America Where Oil Titans Will Stash 2 Million Gallons Of Gas

US Politicians (including some Democrats) are pushing dangerous projects to prop up the plummeting profitability of natural gas fracking.

If these massive petrochemical, plastics, and pipeline investments are not stopped, people who live nearby will have the steepest price to pay — with their health and their environment.

The big secret is out — fracking hasn’t been as profitable as the industry thought it would be. Prices and profits have been crashing, so gas and oil companies have been racking their brains to find new ways to market fracked gas to get a return on their money. The industry’s clever answer to their financial troubles lies in plastics, because the petrochemical industry can make plastic out of the fracked gas.

The fracking and petrochemical industries have teamed up to dump tens of billions of dollars into the heart of the Appalachian region —  right where Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia meet. They are building pipelines and petrochemical and plastics manufacturing complexes, and a large underground storage facility. Our research team has released a damning issue brief that underscores the partnership between these polluting industries, elected officials, and regional universities to launch a massive petrochemical and pipeline boom.
Read the full article…

September 7th, 2018

A Global Movement Against Gas and Fracking Is Rising

Along with our partners, Food & Water Europe is part of a global movement against fossil fuel extraction and FOR a sustainable future.

This October we are mobilizing and targeting those behind the boom of fossil gas and fracking infrastructure:

  • industry
  • governments
  • petrochemical giants that make plastics out of fossil fuels; and
  • banks that finance all of this.

We call it the The Global Gasdown Frackdown Day of Action.

We are showing our governments and the fossil fuel industry that our  communities and our atmosphere cannot handle another generation of fossil fuel addiction – JOIN US!

Read the full article…

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 here.

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.

New Drilling and Fracking in Water Protection Areas?

Despite concerns over the dangerous practice, a water protection area in Lower Saxony could become the subject of drilling for hydrocarbons. The German company DEA wants to extract gas in this highly sensitive zone, going against the legal principle of “duty of care” and threatening to impact water quality as well as the environment, nature and landscape of the area. In connection with another site, ExxonMobil is pushing for a fracking project in a priority area for drinking water protection. The almost endless debate around these clearly illegal moves by the industry only illustrates its lobbying power as well as the shocking inactivity of the responsible authorities and political decision makers. Conventional drilling would constitute a considerable threat, but fracking poses an even higher and unacceptable risk to these sensitive areas.

Food & Water Europe – together with German citizen initiatives and environmental NGOs – has called upon officials to end fracking research projects and dismiss the applications for drilling in water protection areas.

Support and Public Money for Southern Gas Corridor and LNG Terminals

Co-financing Southern Gas Corridor: In March 2018 it became public that the German Ministry of Finance will provide a €1.2 billion loan to Azerbaijan to finance its part of the Southern Gas Corridor, the most ambitious European counter-project to Nord Stream 2, the pipeline that will flood Germany and central Europe with another additional 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of unneeded Russian gas.

Signaling financial help for fracked Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Goldboro terminal in Canada: According to the project report and financial analysis paper of the 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). 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 spicy part of the report mentions that 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 US and Canada, the German government answered that a) the 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.

New LNG terminals for Germany

On top of that almost unbelievable absurdity, Germany is also planning to develop at least two new LNG terminals – the first of their kind in Germany.

One possible candidate is in Wilhelsmhaven, Lower Saxony. According to a 2012 study and older plans the terminal could have a capacity of 10-16 bcm per year and gas storage capacity of 160,000 cubic metres.

The project has the political support of the Government of Lower Saxony (currently conservative CDU and social demcratic SPD). The federal state – also known as Germany’s Texas – even wants to set up a coordination unit for the project and intends to provide a public budget of €1.2 million for the next two years.

The most promising – and far advanced – candidate is Brunsbüttel, in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein. The proposed “big solution” for the realisation of the terminal aims at a storage capacity of 100,000 – 500,000 cubic metres. According to the BrunsbuettelPorts_LNG am Standort Brunsbuettel, the gas could come from the US and Qatar and could be used on-site, for example, by Yara, one of the so-called “Exxons of agriculture”, to make fertilizers.

The Government of Schleswig-Holstein (currently conservative CDU, liberal FDP, and the Green Party!) has nonetheless expressed clear support for the project in their coalition agreement. On top of that, Schleswig-Holstein has already announced public subsidies of at least 250,000 € for the €450 million project.

In July 2017, the European Commission approved the joint venture of Gasunie, Oiltanking and Vopak to develop a LNG Terminal in Northern Germany. This decision has been hailed a milestone by the three companies. The utilization rate of the existing Gasunie LNG terminal at Rotterdam is at a miserly 4%. No wonder that this company is happy to be able to open public budgets somewhere else.

Another fun fact is that Gasunie tries to spin yarns about their “Plan Underway to Subdue Russian Gas With German LNG Terminal” but at the same time the company has no problem with positioning their Dutch Gate Terminal as an LNG transshipment hub for Russian Yamal volumes.

And that’s not the end of the “who’s going to be the next LNG-T in Germany” nonsense. Triggered by the debate about Wilhelsmhaven and Brunsbüttel as possible sites, a third location at Stade, Lower Saxony, has now entered the stage of possible candidates.

Germany’s Gas Addiction Dangerous for the European Union and the Climate

All these projects clearly illustrate the confusing and corrosive strategy that Germany has regarding gas, energy security and diversification. A strong promoter of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, German authorities defend plans for more fracking and LNG by arguing that the country’s growing dependence on Russian gas is problematic and that they should find new sources of supply.

However, the country is already very well supplied and has many opportunities to diversify its supplies. It should provide a clear and honest agenda for a complete fossil fuel phase-out.

Pushing for more fracking and investing more in the LNG sector is absolute madness, not only from a climate stanpoint but also from an economic perspective if we pay attention to the lousy utilization rate and therefore questionable economic viability of the existing European LNG terminals. In the period between January 2012 and March 2018, the daily average utilization rate of all existing EU LNG terminals was at roughly 22-23%.

One wonders if this push for more gas and gas infrastructure has anything to do with honest geopolitical or energy policy debates—or is the result of aggressive lobbying alone.

One thing is for sure: if the German and European people don’t start to force Germany to seriously question its gas addiction, the European Union as a whole won’t be able to reach the urgently needed climate targets according to the Paris Agreement. But if Europe can’t do that, runaway climate chaos will be an inevitable consequence. And this will definitely see a dramatic rise in mass migration and therefore more social and military conflicts.

For questions & more details contact: Andy Gheorghiu, Policy Advisor/Campaigner at Food & Water Europe ([email protected])

 

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

by Andy Gheorghiu

Part I

Many folks around the world see Germany as a progressive “green energy“ country and think it has banned fracking. Unfortunately, both statements are untrue.

In October 2017, federal environment ministry calculations showed that – without further action – Germany would miss its 2020 climate target by a wider margin than previously anticipated (a drop in emissions of only 31 – 33 percent instead of 40 percent).

But instead of increasing desperately needed further actions, the current (and former) government watered down the 2020 emission reduction goal. Conservatives (CDU) and Socialdemocrats (SPD) now want to close the current gap “as much as possible” and reach the target “as soon as possible”.

However, it is simply beyond belief that this is anythiing but a spineless promise particularly if we take a closer look at Germany’s gas consumption.

“Gassy” Germany Beats “Green” Germany

 Despite its “green” image, Germany remains the biggest gas consumer in Europe. With almost 92 billion cubic metres (bcm) of consumption in 2017, fossil gas accounted for 24 percent in Germany’s primary energy consumption.
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.

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