The Chinese government may soon undo its import ban on Australian coal as the country tries to shield itself from supply issues that may occur when further western sanctions throttle Russian energy exports. The ban was unofficially instituted in 2020 over a diplomatic standoff between the two nations as Australia had called for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, and over its decision to side with the West on barring the tainted Huawei Technologies from building the country’s 5G network. The ban on coal imports, when removed, will reinstate China’s position as the top consumer of Australian coal.
Meanwhile, a note presented to India’s parliament reported that the country had approved 83 new coal mining projects in just the last two years, in part to assist Coal India Ltd. in achieving its target of extracting one billion tonnes of the fuel every year by 2025. The projects are also to help India lower its coal imports, but interestingly one of the reasons cited was that India’s growing market share of EVs would necessitate much higher power supplies.
US: Biden submits fresh environmental analysis for Alaskan oil drilling project
The Joe Biden government submitted a fresh environmental analysis for the controversial Willow project in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, and environmentalists feel that the government had practically approved the project, even though it was previously blocked by a judge. The new analysis includes several options that would seemingly lower the project’s impact on the reserve — which is home to rich arctic wildlife — such as reducing the number of drilling sites from the five proposed initially, and the “option” to not drill at all. The project is backed by Alaska’s senator Lisa Murkowski, who claimed that she would hold the government responsible for its environmental impact during Willow’s operational lifetime, but that its construction should commence by winter 2022.
The project, however, is vehemently opposed by environmentalists as it would release 278 million metric tonnes of CO2 and would necessitate the building of hundreds of kilometers of pipelines, several new bridges and even a gravel mine (among other facilities) in what is currently pristine wild land.
India: Oil exploration to commence in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram
India’s union minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas announced that the eastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram would soon start oil and natural gas exploration, and the move comes as a part of the government’s strategy to boost the domestic supplies of the fuel and lower its dependence on imports. The minister, Rameswar Teli, stressed that he wanted to see the prices of petrol and LPG to drop across the country, but the high prices on the international market were making the situation difficult. Teli also said that all the north-eastern states would receive gas pipelines and that their construction would commence as soon as possible.
Japan: Regulators to restart up to 9 nuclear plants, add fresh new coal capacity
The Japanese government said that it will restart a number of nuclear plants and bring online a new 1 GW-coal plant as the country battles high power demand and the surging prices of imported fuels. At the moment only 10 of its 33 nuclear reactors are operational — several were shut down after the 2011 Fukushima accident — but the government said that adding nine more would help cover 10% of the country’s total power demand. Adding more thermal power to the mix would “stabilise the power supply”, according to the policy makers, who were looking to shield the country from the high fuel prices and supply issues posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.