The 27 EU nations met at Versaille, France to discuss an urgent response to the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, with the proposal to phase out the bloc’s dependence on Russian oil and gas imports by 2027. It would instead import more LNG from other nations and increase its use of hydrogen, but while the proposal aims to make the shift “as soon as possible”, it’s also likely to consider its member nations’ individual “choices of energy mix”, and a firm date for the phase out has not yet been set.
Ukraine reacted to the target by saying that since the EU paid hundreds of millions of dollars to Russia every day for the fuels, ending the imports by 2027 was not adequately immediate, and also called for the embargo to extend to Russian timber and wood products to further intensify the impact of the sanctions.
India to boost domestic coal production while looking to import more from Russia
Further strengthening the role of private miners, the Indian government announced on March 8 that they would produce 350-400 million tonnes of coal by 2030 in an effort to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported supplies. India imports 90% of its coal shipments from Australia, South Africa and Indonesia, but the announcement is likely another step towards the government’s goal of energy independence (Atmanirbharta), and will support Coal India’s previous goal of producing more than 1 billion tonnes of the fuel by 2030. Interestingly, however, Coal India is also targeting net-zero emissions in “3-4 years”, although the goal will not cover the emission from burning the fuel itself.
Also, India may soon accept more shipments of Russian coal as the latter struggles to sell its products in the international market. Having been cut off from most western economies under sanctions, the country is turning to China and India as alternatives, and is reportedly considering setting up a Rouble-Rupee trade mechanism to possibly circumvent the Russian banks having been shut out of the international SWIFT payments mechanism.
India: NTPC Vindhyachal to set up unique carbon capture plant and produce methanol
India’s largest thermal power plant will set up a first-of-its-kind carbon capture plant by 2023 to capture the CO2 that would have been released, and will combine it with hydrogen to manufacture methanol instead. The novel project will be deployed at the 4,783MW Vindhyachal plant in Madhya Pradesh — it also produces solar and hydro power — and the region around the power plant has been planted with 2.5 million saplings under NTPC’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. Also, NITI Aayog has set out targets for the country to use methanol under its “Methanol Economy” vision, and plans to use the fuel for both transport and energy applications to lower India’s oil imports.
OGCI commits to near zero fugitive emissions by 2030
The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative companies — a consortium of the world’s largest oil and gas drillers — committed to cutting its fugitive methane emissions to “near zero” by 2030, and the announcement is a step towards the calls from the COP26 summit that called for a reduction in methane emission by 30% by the end of the decade. The OGCI chairman acknowledged that cutting the emissions was a good short-term solution to meeting climate targets by the industry and the members (including ExxonMobil and Shell) will also report their annual methane emissions — which the IEA says are 70% higher than reported figures.
India: Environment ministry to deliberate on not exempting extended reach drilling from clearances
The Indian environment ministry will reportedly deliberate further on whether to keep extended reach drilling (ERD) away from the ambit of mandatory clearances in protected forest areas. The process is used to drill long horizontal shafts in the ground to reach oil and gas deposits, but it is known to cause surface contamination and also increases the risk of forest fires in the drilling region — as was noted in the Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Assam in 2020 — apart from noise and ground vibrations that can affect the sensitive ecology of the protected areas.
An interim report on the matter from 2020 was found to not have adequately accounted for the practice’s impact on local wildlife, although it was later reneged in the report’s next revision in 2021 by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), which also termed ERD to be “environmentally safe and the best technology” for extracting hydrocarbons in sensitive regions. However, various technical details around the actual drilling procedure were still under review.