Climate-lethal US frack-gas arrives in Spain via Gas Natural Fenosa

Gas Natural’s Ribera Del Duero Knutsen lifted a cargo at Sabine Pass on 9-July and delivered it to Cartagena, Spain on 21-July    

Leer en castellano AQUÍ        twitter.. #NoAlFrackGasDelTrump.. 

Early on 21st July a giant Liquid Natural Gas Tanker (LNG) appeared out of the mist in Cartagena harbour. Nothing surprising, you may say. Only that it was the 1st of hundreds of GNF’s Frack-Gas cargoes from the USA.

  on twitter.. #NoAlFrackGasDelTrump..

Frack-Gas is the same as normal gas, only that it’s up to 3 times more lethal than coal for the climate. Because extracting it requires fracturing shale in thousands of small wells with ultra toxic chemicals causing massive methane leaking.(see footnote 1)

Now by Trump’s executive order all pretence at methane control, climate change mitigation, water or environmental protection have been abolished in a toxic mix of false patriotism, corruption and insatiable greed. (see footnote 2)

Due to lack of control, hidden subsidies and free money there is a glut of frack gas in the US. The plan is to force it on Europe, even at a massive loss and with incalculable climate damage, as part of their trade and arms war against Russia, which supplies 30% of European gas.

A whole range of liquefaction plants are being rushed into operation in Louisiana and Texas, until now three huge lines are in operation in Sabine Pass, with whole sections devoted to Spain’s Gas Natural Fenosa and Shell who have perhaps foolishly signed 20 year ‘pay up whether you take the gas or not’ contracts.

 Cheniere will deliver the first US LNG cargo to KlaipedaLithuania from Sabine Pass in the second half of August.

Economically the business  makes no sense, US shale gas ‘costs’ up to $7.85 to $8.35  per mmbtu delivered to the customer in Rotterdam, compared to $ 5.35, (May 2017 European price). Yet the first consignments are already arriving. First they discount the liquefaction cost of $3.00, calling it a ‘sunk cost’ (a huge undeclared loss, presumably guaranteed ), cutting the price to near european levels. Then there are ”bribes and arm twisting” via US ”influence”.

When the first cargo of US Frack Gas arrived in the new regasification plant in Poland in June 2017 in a wave of patriotic anti Russian media the energy minister Naimski claimed Gazprom’s 30% in the European market could be significantly reduced, ‘with U.S. exporters also covering the transport costs to ”balance the price with the European market”  Hey presto, ignoring the climate, the planet and our health.. it’s ”profitable”.(see footnote 3)

The Spanish based Gas Natural Fenosa have proudly acquired three new LNG tankers for the Frack Gas business.  Spain has 7 regasification plants when it needs only one or two. It doesn’t need more gas. The 2 pipelines from Algeria can supply up to 20.6 bcm of the 30 to 40 bcm (depending on the economy) requirements of Iberia. Cheap Algerian or Qatari LNG can supply the rest                     .see footnote 4mapa_2015_ok

But Spanish energy companies have never been transparent, run by an oligarchy in league with government they have been embroiled in a series of scandals worth billions of euros in institutional corruption. Government ministers have ensured massive handouts and the suppression of the solar/wind sector and a large number of them later receive lucrative honorary board membership.

There is a suspicion that Gas Natural Fenosa and Iberdrola will impose expensive US frack-gas on Spanish consumers, using its control of the end market and in agreement with a government always servile to US interests.

There has been a campaign, frustrated until now by French refusal, to build a new pipeline, the Midcat,  to France, indeed the first 100 kilometres was already laid. The EU agreed to pay up, on the spurious arguments of linking Algerian gas to Northern Europe or creating a ‘Barcelona Hub’ to pump imported and regasified LNG north see footnote 5

The latest on The Midcat project is that French refusal may be overcome with Macron in power, but the EU special interest grants need renewing and will be decided in autumn 2017

However if any corrupt Spanish ministers think they can get anonymous payments to their anonymous offshore accounts by forcing a pipeline through the Pyrenees to sell expensive planet-destroying US frack gas they should perhaps think again. The Midcat pipeline would probably become a new DAPL style conflict on both sides of the border.

Footnotes… much more information

Footnote One: Methane escapes turn the ‘gas advantage’ negative.   Because burning gas is more efficient  than coal, it provides a 50% advantage in terms of emissions of CO2 emitted per unit of energy. However that is only half the story because of the methane that escapes into the atmosphere during the exploration, production, storage, and distribution phases of the gas life-cycle: in other words all of the stages upstream of the power station.

There is a large difference in fugitive emissions between conventional and unconventional methods of gas extraction. A large reservoir of natural gas may require only a handful of platforms to extract the underlying resource, which typically is under pressure and therefore relatively simple to release and capture.

As an example of the dangers: Aug 10th 2016. 5 children and b adults were burned alive in New Mexico when a pipeline of frack-gas exploded like a giant flamethrower and incinerated them where they were camping and fishing 200 yards away. There are hundreds of under reported pipeline leaks and explosions every month.

By contrast, with unconventional sources such as shale gas, the resource is present as bubbles of gas within shale rock formations. Extraction is extremely challenging, it requires the injection of sand, water, chemicals and lubricants under pressure, and thousands of well-heads may be required to locate and extract significant quantities of gas. The potential for leaks, whether accidental or deliberate, is correspondingly greater.

Atmospheric monitoring from the early 1990s, before fracking became a major issue, demonstrates that conventional gas production is associated with methane losses of at least 1%, so the advantage of gas over coal is 25%, not 50%. Second liquefaction is extremely energy intensive adding 20-25% to the carbon footprint, which means that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is no better than coal from a climate change perspective.

The situation with shale gas is far worse. Satellite data demonstrates fugitive emissions that are an order of magnitude greater during the extraction and storage phase, with  average losses, including distribution representing 6-8% of production. The figure of 6% makes shale gas two times worse than coal from a climate change perspective.  A Cornell University scientist’s claims that oil and gas development is so harmful to the climate that methane emissions and oil and gas production in general need to be cut back immediately to avoid a “global catastrophe” are adding more fuel to the scientific debate over the climate implications of shale oil and gas production.

Fossil fuels production is the largest methane pollution source in the U.S., and ignoring those emissions will lead to a climate change “tipping point” from which there is no return, Cornell environmental biology professor Robert Howarth said in a statement   And a very recent study from Harvard, published in Geophysical Research Letters by Turner et al used satellite data over the US and found a 30% increase in methane releases since 2002.


Footnote 2:  The question is that the US wants to sell off its Frack Gas and annoy the Russians and is willing to pay covertly, as well as all the following:        by tax breaks, endless loans to bankrupt gas companies at near zero interest rates, repealing of the recent Obama era law of even minimum requirements of reporting methane emissions, allowing fracking companies: exemption from the Clean Water Laws; (WARNING Fracking An Inconvenient Truth Watch Learn about Fracking Shale Gas)   abandoning of tens of thousands of leaky frack wells as their production quickly declines below commercial viability; abandoning  lakes and ponds of ultra toxic fracking liquids, often due to strategic bankruptcy; the negation of any compensation for poisoned water supplies nationwide; legal blocking of claims for compensation for deaths, cancers, many other ailments and psychological and business damage related to fracking; the destruction of fragile habitats and ecosystems; local species extinctions… and etc!fracking causes cancer

see Shale cowboys: fracking under Trump – (VPRO documentary – 2017)   This is the business the European consumer is being asked to condone by accepting US Fracking Gas to cook their lunches and take their morning showers.

Footnote3:    Approximate gas prices in Rotterdam, May 17. in mmbtu May 2017 Euro price $ 5.35,      US Frack Gas Price  LNG  $2.25 HH (US market price)    +    $3.00 Liquefaction cost     +    transpòrt   $0.60 / to   $1.10 $/mmbtu   +   regasifaction cost  $2.00                                           total ‘real price’ before discounts  = $7.85 to $8.35

When the first cargo of US Frack Gas arrived in the new regasification plant in Poland in June 2017 in a blaze of patriotic anti-Russian media the energy minister Naimski claimed Gazprom’s 34% of the European market in 2016 could be significantly reduced, ‘with U.S. exporters paying liquefaction costs and also covering the transport costs to ”balance the price with the European market”. This is politics not business and the geo-political rivalry has a deadly side to it.

Apart from the risk of nuclear annihilation by a war with Russia the wars in Syria and Iraq may well be also about competing pipeline projects. And now a world glut of gas is threatening the revenues of all players, the ‘need’ is to ‘take out’ some suppliers i.e. whole nations could be sabotaged in a cynical game to increase prices. This may be part of the irrational attacks on Qatar and the perennial threats to Iran. Also LNG production facilities in Egypt, Libya and Yemen are no longer operating, as of mid-2016, both Yemen and Libya are suffering open ended US military ‘interventions’  and it is doubtful when and whether LNG exports from these three countries could restart.

footnote 4  The idea  put out that Algerian gas flowing to northern Europe could sabotage the Russians’ gas business is absolutely ludicrous. The capacity of the 2 pipelines to Spain is about 20.6 bcm and maybe 75% is used, supplying only half the Iberian demand, while the EU consumption is 525.5 bcm.2_algerien_proteste_foto_picture_alliance_abaca_b_billal

Algeria could hardly increase supply anyway, it is desperately trying to bring more gas online to meet power shortages and a one million a year population increase. Fracking in Algeria has been abandoned for now due to a massive brave popular uprising and the realization that millions of gallons of water would be needed for each of thousands of small wells, impossible in the desert. Algerian gas is 2 or 3 times more climate friendly than US frack gas.

So the plan to create the ‘Barcelona hub for Europe’ depends on importing LNG, which Northern Europe could import directly and more cheaply to their own underused regasification facilities. If the Midcat pipeline from Spain to France goes ahead it will be a political decision of more than dubious economic worth pushed through by the US to spite the Russians (and the Germans who are at present outraged by unnecessary US declarations that they would sanction any German company working on the Nord Stream undersea pipeline between Germany and Russia).


footnote 5

see.. Eleven Spanish corruption scandals that will take your breath away

Energy companies stole over 4 billion euros with politicial connivance

Similar to the Contract for Difference mechanism being used to fund infrastructure in the U.K.’s electricity market reform, the transition plan (costes de transición a la competencia, or CTC in Spanish) guaranteed the utilities €36 ($41 USD) per megawatt-hour over 10 years.   The scheme came into effect in 2001, but was halted in 2006 when the spot price for energy rose above €53 ($60) per megawatt-hour and utilities reaped windfall profits. By that point, four of the five utilities had profited far in excess of what was agreed upon in the scheme. Endesa (now part of Enel) topped the list with an overpayment worth €1.56 billion ($1.76 billion).Then came Iberdrola with €1.16 billion ($1.31 billion), Viesgo with €434 million ($490 million), Union Fenosa with €275 million ($311 million), and Hidrocantábrico with €155 million ($175 million).


footnote 6        Flood of Fracking Gas from US to Arrive in Spain #NoAlFrackGasDelTrump

Map of loading and re-gasification facilities in Barcelona. The tourist city with a Council promising power to the people is about to receive frack gas obtained by ruining the EEUU environment and which is pushing the whole world to the precipice of Climate Disaster.

…Many questions remain unanswered, for example:

  • Why do we buy fracking gas that can be three times as harmful as coal for the climate?
  • Why has there been zero public consultation or participation in a decision which will seriously affect our lives?
  • Why have 20-year contracts been signed, ignoring the climate change crisis?
  • Why have they agreed to pay for the gas for 20 years anyway even if they do not pick it up?
  • How can it be justified to buy at a more expensive price a product obtained with subsidies, social deception and the suspension of environmental water protection laws?
  • Were there commissions to anonymous tax havens, as usually happens in the fossil fuels industry?
  • How can you justify constructing the Cheniere Creole Trail Gas Pipeline which is to supply the gas for Gas Natural Fenosa through an unprotected coastal marsh of outstanding environmental importance?
The ‘second train’ in Sabine Pass, Louisiana, where frack gas is liquefied for Shell and Gas Natural Fenosa. The company, Cherniére, claim to have ‘improved the unique coastal environment’.
Europe gas consumption 2016 in bcm
  • Demand 525 .540
    Production 239
    Net imports 286 .301
  • Import Needs 292 .307
  • Russian imports 165
    Pipeline imports (North Africa,
    Azerbaijan, Iran)  55
  • LNG Imports  72.262
  • LNG exports (Norway) 6



footnote 7

The next Frack Gas arrival for Gas Natural was

Rioja Knutsen




Allen, D.T., V.M. Torres, J. Thomas, D.W. Sullivan, M. Harrison, A. Hendler, S.C. Herndon, C.E. Kolb, M.P. Fraser, A.D. Hill, B.K. Lamb, J. Miskimins, R.F. Sawyer and J.H. Seinfeld. 2013. Measurements of methane emissions at natural gas production sites in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304880110

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Schindell, D.T., G. Faluvegi, D.M. Koch, G.A. Schmidt, N. Unger, and S.E. Bauer. 2009. Improved attribution of climate forcing to emissions. Science 326: 716-718.

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Gas Natural Fenosa’s LNG Fleet

Tanker Delivery year Capacity (100%) in m3 Chartered by Gas Natural Fenosa
CASTILLO DE VILLALBA 2003 138,162.68 Since 15 November 2003
CATALUNYA SPIRIT 2003 138,119.52 Since 1 August 2003
IBERICA KNUTSEN 2006 138,148.17 Since March 2009
RIBERA DEL DUERO KNUTSEN 2010 173,410.00 Since March 2014
CADIZ KNUTSEN 2014 138,122.00 Chartered from UFG on numerous occasions since 2010, according to demand
GASLOG SARATOGA 2014 155,092.00 Since January 2016, for one year
SEISHU MARU 2014 155,695.59 Since January 2016, for one year
LA MANCHA KNUTSEN 2016 176,300 Since September 2016



Relacionados //Related Posts

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