Not so slick: The oil spill off Mauritius has now spread along 15km of the coastline and could take decades to clean up | Photo: Sailors TV

Mauritius oil spill could devastate marine life, impair local economy for decades

The 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil spilled along Mauritius’s east coast by a Japanese tanker could reportedly devastate the island nation’s pristine marine ecosystem, including its coral reefs, fish, molluscs, crabs and mangrove forests. The oil spill from the MV Wakashio has spread along 15km of the coastline and despite parent firm Nagashiki Shipping taking responsibility for the “ecological disaster”, removing the oil fully—both from the waters and from the seabed around the beach—could take decades. 

This would be especially worrisome for Mauritius as tourism and fishing are the mainstays of its economy. India, for its part, has dispatched a 10-member team from the Coast Guard that is trained in oil spill containment. 

World’s largest private coal miner concedes US coal mines have grim future 

Peabody Energy, the largest coal miner in the US and the world’s largest private coal mining firm, has written down the book value of the US’s largest coal mine—Wyoming’s North Antelope Rochelle mine—by US$1.42 billion after conceding that the mine had little value left, and that the share of coal in US’s power mix would “continue to be lower than prior year levels”. 

The start admission comes in its earnings report for the second quarter of 2020 and after its massive restructuring in 2017, when it had promised to create “substantial value” for its shareholders. Its share price has since lost 90% of its value. 

BP to retire 40% of oil and gas operations by 2030

Oil and gas heavyweight BP (British Petroleum) has pledged to cut its oil and gas operations by 40% by 2030, and its refining operations by 30% over the same period. The announcement follows its previous pledge to go carbon-neutral by 2050, and the firm will instead invest up to US$5 billion a year in clean energy to expand its renewables’ portfolio from 2.5GW today to 50GW by 2030. 

The announcement is hugely significant as BP is one of the world’s largest oil and gas firms, but so far, it is the only large driller to have pledged a reduction of its fossil fuel operations. The firm has also been investing heavily into setting up EV charging stations across the UK, and plans to boost the numbers to 70,000 by 2030 as a decisive pivot towards cleaner energy. However, its 20% stake in Russia’s Rosneft — which is also a major fossil fuel exporter — remains untouched. 

BHP’s Chilean copper mining firms agree to pay millions to exit coal power PPAs

Two of Chile’s copper mining firms, Minera Escondida Limitada and Minera Spence SpA, which are controlled by mining giant BHP, have agreed to pay all damages to exit their PPAs with the Angamos coal power plant well before the end of term. The PPAs were signed with plant owner AES Gener SA, which will now receive US$730 million from Escondida and US$109.6 million from Minera Spence SpA, in installments that start from August 31. 

While the exact reason for the early termination is unclear, the decision is likely influenced by the plant’s higher tariffs as compared to renewables.