The CEO of the oil group upset by France’s decision to block the energy deal

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The CEO of the American Petroleum Institute has criticized the French government’s decision to block a $ 7 billion deal to import American liquefied natural gas over concerns about climate change.Why is this important: The tension reflects the intercontinental divide over how governments and businesses should tackle global warming, including the potent greenhouse gas methane which is the main component of the gas.

What happened: The French government has asked the electricity company Engie, which is partly owned by the government, to suspend an LNG deal with US company NextDecade, a French site reported earlier this month (and Politico confirmed).

  • This particular LNG comes from gas produced in the Permian Basin spanning Texas and New Mexico, an area that has been criticized for high levels of methane flaring (wasting).

What they say: “We take great indignation, of course,” said Mike Sommers, CEO and chairman of API, in his opening comments on the matter.

  • “We don’t think gas or oil from other countries is cleaner than what is produced in the United States,” he said.

The big picture: Europe has long been more aggressive on climate policy than its counterpart across the Atlantic, but the rift has widened under President Trump, who overturned most federal climate rules, including climate standards. methane. Meanwhile, the European Union has just announced a strategy to reduce these emissions.

How it works: When burned, natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal, the source of electricity it often replaces, which is why it has reduced emissions in the United States by replacing coal. It gets more complicated.

  • Companies often waste natural gas (and therefore put methane in the air) when infrastructure is lacking or oil prices are too low.
  • It also takes a lot of energy to liquefy the gas to be shipped and then reprocess it once the gas arrives at its destination, increasing the climate change footprint.
  • The Department of Energy, under the Trump and Obama administrations, has issued reports indicating that US LNG has a similar climate footprint to gas from Russia and Algeria.

Go further: Natural gas is helping fight climate change – but not enough

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