Connect with us

Latest

EU countries turn to Africa in bid to replace Russian gas

Avatar photo

Published

on

EU countries turn to Africa in bid to replace Russian gas

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A new liquefied natural gas project off Africa’s western coast may only be 80% complete, but already the prospect of a new energy supplier has drawn visits from the leaders of Poland and Germany.

The initial field near Senegal and Mauritania’s coastlines is expected to contain about 15 trillion cubic feet (425 billion cubic meters) of gas, five times more than what gas-dependent Germany used in all of 2019. But production isn’t expected to start until the end of next year.

That won’t help solve Europe’s energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Still, Gordon Birrell, an executive for project co-developer BP, says the development “could not be more timely” as Europe seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas to power factories, generate electricity and heat homes.

“Current world events are demonstrating the vital role that (liquid gas) can play in underpinning the energy security of nations and regions,” he told an energy industry meeting in West Africa last month.

While Africa’s natural gas reserves are vast and North African countries like Algeria have pipelines already linked to Europe, a lack of infrastructure and security challenges have long stymied producers in other parts of the continent from scaling up exports. Already-established African producers are cutting deals or reducing energy use so they have more to sell to boost their finances, but some leaders warn that hundreds of millions of Africans lack electricity and supplies are needed at home.

Nigeria has Africa’s largest natural gas reserves, said Horatius Egua, a spokesman for the petroleum minister, though it accounts for only 14% of the European Union’s imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, that comes by ship. Projects face the risk of energy thefts and high costs. Other promising countries like Mozambique have discovered large gas reserves only to see projects delayed by violence from Islamic militants.

Europe has been scrambling to secure alternative sources as Moscow has reduced natural gas flows to EU countries, triggering soaring energy prices and growing expectations of a recession. The 27-nation EU, whose energy ministers are meeting this week to discuss a gas price cap, is bracing for the possibility of a complete Russian cutoff but has still managed to fill gas reserves to 90%.

European leaders have flocked to countries like Norway, Qatar, Azerbaijan and especially those in North Africa, where Algeria has a pipeline running to Italy and another to Spain.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Italy signed a $4 billion gas deal with Algeria in July, a month after Egypt reached an agreement with the European Union and Israel to boost sales of LNG. Angola also has signed a gas deal with Italy.

While an earlier agreement allowed Italy’s biggest energy company to start production at two Algerian gas fields this week, it was wasn’t clear when flows would start from the July deal because it lacked specifics, analysts said.

African leaders like Senegalese President Macky Sall want their countries to cash in on these projects even as they’re being dissuaded from pursuing fossil fuels. They don’t want to export it all either — an estimated 600 million Africans lack access to electricity.

“It is legitimate, fair and equitable that Africa, the continent that pollutes the least and lags furthest behind in the industrialization process should exploit its available resources to provide basic energy, improve the competitiveness of its economy and achieve universal access to electricity,” Sall told the U.N. General Assembly last month.

Algeria is a major supplier — it and Egypt accounted for 60% of the natural gas production in Africa in 2020 — but it can’t offset Russian gas to Europe at this stage, said Mahfoud Kaoubi, professor of economics and specialist in energy issues at the University of Algiers.

“Russia has an annual production of 270 billion cubic meters — it’s huge,” Kaoubi said. “Algeria is 120 billion cubic meters, of which 70.50% is intended for consumption on the internal market.”

This year, Algeria is forecast to have piped exports of 31.8 billion cubic meters, according to Tom Purdie, a Europe, Middle East and Africa gas analyst with S&P Global Commodity Insights.

“The key concern here surrounds the level of production step-up that can be achieved, and the impact domestic demand could have” given how much gas Algeria uses at home, Purdie said.

Cash-strapped Egypt also is looking to export more natural gas to Europe, even regulating air conditioning in shopping malls and lights on streets to save energy and sell it instead.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly says Egypt hopes to bring in an additional $450 million a month in foreign currency by rerouting 15% of its domestic gas usage for export, state media reported.

More than 60% of Egypt’s natural gas consumption still is used by power stations to keep the country running. Most of its LNG goes to Asian markets.

A new, three-party deal will see Israel send more gas to Europe via Egypt, which has facilities to liquefy it for export by sea. The EU says it will help the two countries increase gas production and exploration.

In Nigeria, ambitious plans have yet to yield results despite years of planning. The country exported less than 1% of its vast natural gas reserves last year.

A proposed 4,400-kilometer-long (2,734-mile-long) pipeline that would take Nigerian gas to Algeria through Niger has been stalled since 2009, mainly because of its estimated cost of $13 billion.

Many fear that even if completed, the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline would face security risks like Nigeria’s oil pipelines, which have come under frequent attacks from militants and vandals.

The same challenges would hinder increased gas exports to Europe, said Olufola Wusu, a Lagos-based oil and gas expert.

“If you look at the realities on ground — issues that have to do with crude oil theft — and others begin to question our ability to supply gas to Europe,” he said.

Wusu urged pursuing LNG, calling it the “most profitable” gas strategy so far.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Even that isn’t without issues: In July, the head of Nigeria LNG Limited, the country’s largest natural gas firm, said its plant was producing at just 68% of capacity, mainly because its operations and earnings have been stifled by oil theft.

In the south, Mozambique is slated to become a major exporter of LNG after significant deposits were found along its Indian Ocean coast in 2010. France’s TotalEnergies invested $20 billion and started work to extract gas that would be liquefied in a plant it was building in Palma, in the northern Cabo Delgado province.

But Islamic extremist violence forced TotalEnergies to indefinitely scupper the project last year. Mozambican officials have pledged to secure the Palma area to allow work to resume.

Italian firm Eni, meanwhile, pressed ahead with its plan to pump and liquefy some of its gas deposits discovered in Mozambique in 2011 and 2014. Eni established a platform in the Indian Ocean 50 miles (80 kilometers) offshore, away from the violence in Cabo Delgado.

It’s the first floating LNG facility in the deep waters off Africa, Eni says, with gas liquefaction capacity of 3.4 million tons per year.

The platform liquefied its first gas on Oct. 2, according to Africa Energy, and the first shipment is expected to depart for Europe in mid-October.

___

Chinedu Asadu in Abuja, Nigeria; Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg; and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.

Read More

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Austin Local News

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

Avatar photo

Published

on

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

___

Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Austin Local News

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

Avatar photo

Published

on

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

Avatar photo

Published

on

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Read More

Continue Reading