Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness

The fossil fuel industry has found new life as the energy consequences of the war in Ukraine are being used not as an opportunity to wean off oil production, but the opposite; to ramp up fossil fuel development.

The Biden administration is releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And pressuring oil companies to activate their oil leases. To ramp up natural gas exports. Other countries are releasing their oil reserves.

PARIS (AP) — The International Energy Agency said Thursday that its member countries are releasing 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves on top of previous U.S. pledges to take aim at energy prices that have soared since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The releases show “the determination of member countries to protect the global economy from the social and economic impacts of an oil shock following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. “Events in Ukraine are becoming more distressing by the day, and action by the IEA at this time is needed to relieve some of the strains in energy markets.”

Energy markets have been squeezed by surging demand as the global economy rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, outpacing supply and driving up prices. High energy prices have fueled inflation worldwide, and the war in Ukraine exacerbated the problem amid uncertainties about oil and natural gas supplies from Russia and Western sanctions on Moscow.

IEA member countries hold 1.5 billion barrels in public reserves.

Nations to release millions of barrels of oil amid war, Associated Press, April 6, 2022

As horrific as the atrocities of the war are, the real consequence is acceleration and escalation of the consequences and chaos of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its latest report on Monday. This scientific summary, focused on how the world can cut greenhouse gas emissions, warns of the extraordinary harm to all of humanity caused by fossil fuels and the need for a rapid energy transition away from oil, gas, and coal, calling for meaningful changes over the next three years. “Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.”

That same day, oil giant ExxonMobil made an announcement of its own: a $10 billion final investment decision for an oil and gas development project in the South American nation of Guyana that the company said would allow it to add a quarter of a million barrels of oil a day to its production in 2025.

Meanwhile, major carbon capture projects like Southern Company’s $7.5 billion attempt to build a coal-fired plant that could capture its own emissions were abandoned. Other closely watched carbon capture projects like Petra Nova and Boundary Dam have failed to live up to expectations.

As a result of that one-two punch, new fossil fuel projects may find themselves fighting against the tides, facing not just cheaper competition but also the drive to slash demand for their products to combat climate change. “Without carbon capture, coal and gas plants would need to retire about 23 years earlier than expected in order to hold global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius

ExxonMobil Announces $10 Billion Oil Investment the Same Day IPCC Signals End for Fossil Fuels. The oil giant’s massive plan to drill in Guyana’s waters comes as the UN Secretary General warns of fossil fuels as a “blight on investment portfolios.” By Sharon Kelly, DeSmog, Apr 5, 2022

As the article says, one bright spot is that the expense and failure of carbon capture means the oil industry cannot legitimately use that technology as a part of their plans to show how they will meet targets to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn’t mean they won’t try.

The following article is wrong. It states the “giant warning” is that it will take time to ramp up oil production. The real warning is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will result.

U.S. crude oil prices jumped more than $10 overnight to $130 a barrel on news that the U.S. was considering prohibiting Russian oil imports, though prices backed off later during Monday trading. That rally has driven retail gasoline prices up more than 46 cents in the past week, reaching a national average of $4.06 a gallon, according to fuel price service GasBuddy.

Exxon has said it expected to increase its production from the Permian by 100,000 barrels per day this year, on top of a sharp ramp up last year to 460,000 barrels per day. “We’re well on our way to that,” CEO Darren Woods told an industry conference in Houston on Monday. Chevron has also said it would increase its production there by 60,000 barrels per day this year.

U.S. oil industry prepares to boost production — but with a giant warning. A jump in gasoline prices above $4 has oil companies eyeing crude oil output hikes, but pain at the pump will linger as shaky oil markets shun Russian cargoes. by Ben Lefebvre, Politico, March 7/2022

While the PA Governor and Attorney General continue to delay halting construction and cleaning up toxic spill in Marsh Creek, local residents take matters into their own hands with direct action and win in court today. “We had no choice but to resort to peaceful protest on an active construction site to raise awareness of the dangers that have not been addressed by the responsible government agencies.”

The proceedings were watched with cheering support from families across Pennsylvania. Attorney Read used the argument § 503. Justification generally (a) General rule. Conduct which the actor believes to be necessary to avoid a harm or evil to himself or to another is justifiable if: (1) the harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged.

Pipeline Protestors Found Not Guilty by Watchdogs of Southeastern Pennsylvania (WaSEPA), April 6, 2022

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