American oil and gas companies are exploiting the war in Ukraine by locking in long-term LNG contracts unlikely — and possibly not even actually intended — to alleviate Europe’s short-term energy crunch but certain to cause huge amounts of climate pollution, a new report warns. U.S. fossil fuel firms have nailed down 45 long-term contracts or contract extensions since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago — more than triple the number signed in 2021 — according to the analysis from Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, and BailoutWatch.
Methane gas won’t be delivered under the contracts until at least 2026 and most of the contracts have at least 20-year terms. The annual climate impact of the wartime contracts is equivalent to the climate pollution released by 94 coal-fired power plants every year. The long-term gas export contracts will also raise U.S. energy prices. With EU leaders reluctant to agree to long-term fossil fuel contracts unaligned with their countries’ climate goals, much of the methane gas will likely, increasingly end up in Asia.
“There’s somewhat of a bait and switch going on here,” Public Citizen’s research director Alan Zibel told The Guardian. “The public have been told that these terminals and these exports are to help Europe, but in reality, the bulk of the contracting volume is still going to Asia.” The report comes as blast-shuttered Freeport LNG received approval to restart operations. (The Guardian; Freeport: Reuters, Wall Street Journal $)