The state of the planet in 10 numbers

This article is part of the Road to COP special report, presented by SQM.

The COP28 climate summit comes at a critical moment for the planet.

A summer that toppled heat records left a trail of disasters around the globe. The world may be just six years away from breaching the Paris Agreement’s temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, setting the stage for much worse calamities to come. And governments are cutting their greenhouse gas pollution far too slowly to head off the problem — and haven’t coughed up the billions of dollars they promised to help poorer countries cope with the damage.

This year’s summit, which starts on Nov. 30 in Dubai, will conclude the first assessment of what countries have achieved since signing the Paris accord in 2015.

The forgone conclusion: They’ve made some progress. But not enough. The real question is what they do in response.

To help understand the stakes, here’s a snapshot of the state of the planet — and global climate efforts — in 10 numbers.

1.3 degrees Celsius

Global warming since the preindustrial era

Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have been driving global temperatures skyward since the 19th century, when the industrial revolution and the mass burning of fossil fuels began to affect the Earth’s climate. The world has already warmed by about 1.3 degrees Celsius, or 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and most of that warming has occurred since the 1970s. In the last 50 years, research suggests, global temperatures have risen at their fastest rate in at least 2,000 years.

This past October concluded the Earth’s hottest 12-month span on record, a recent analysis found. And 2023 is virtually certain to be the hottest calendar year ever observed. It’s continuing a string of recent record-breakers — the world’s five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2015.

Allowing warming to pass 2 degrees Celsius would tip the world into catastrophic changes, scientists have warned, including life-threatening heat extremes, worsening storms and wildfires, crop failures, accelerating sea level rise and existential threats to some coastal communities and small island nations. Eight years ago in Paris, nearly every nation on Earth agreed to strive to keep temperatures well below that threshold, and under a more ambitious 1.5-degree threshold if at all possible.

But with just fractions of a degree to go, that target is swiftly approaching — and many experts say it’s already all but out of reach.

$4.3 trillion

Global economic losses from climate disasters since 1970

Climate-related disasters are worsening as temperatures rise. Heat waves are intensifying, tropical cyclones are strengthening, floods and droughts are growing more severe and wildfires are blazing bigger. Record-setting events struck all over the planet this year, a harbinger of new extremes to come. Scientists say such events will only accelerate as the world warms.

Nearly 12,000 weather, climate and water-related disasters struck worldwide over the last five decades, the World Meteorological Organization reports. They’ve caused trillions of dollars in damage, and they’ve killed more than 2 million people.

Ninety percent of these deaths have occurred in developing countries. Compared with wealthier nations, these countries have historically contributed little to the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming – yet they disproportionately suffer the impacts of climate change.

4.4 millimeters

Annual rate of sea level rise

Global sea levels are rapidly rising as the ice sheets melt and the oceans warm and expand. Scientists estimate that they’re now rising by about 4.4 millimeters, or about 0.17 inches, each year – and that rate is accelerating, increasing by about 1 millimeter every decade.

Those sound like small numbers. They’re not.

The world’s ice sheets and glaciers are losing a whopping 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year. Those losses are also speeding up, accelerating by at least 57 percent since the 1990s. Future sea level rise mainly depends on future ice melt, which depends on future greenhouse gas emissions. With extreme warming, global sea levels will likely rise as much as 3 feet by the end of this century, enough to swamp many coastal communities, threaten freshwater supplies and submerge some small island nations.

Some places are more vulnerable than others.

“Low-lying islands in the Pacific are on the frontlines of the fight against sea level rise,” said NASA sea level expert Benjamin Hamlington. “In the U.S., the Southeast and Gulf Coasts are experiencing some of the highest rates of sea level rise in the world and have very high future projections of sea level.”

But in the long run, he added, “almost every coastline around the world is going to experience sea level rise and will feel impacts.”

Less than 6 years

When the world could breach the 1.5-degree threshold

The world is swiftly running out of time to meet its most ambitious international climate target: keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Humans can emit only another 250 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and maintain at least even odds of meeting that goal, scientists say.

That pollution threshold could arrive in as little as six years.

That’s the bottom line from at least two recent studies, one published in June and one in October. Humans are pouring about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, with each ton eating into the margin of error.

The size of that carbon buffer is smaller than previous estimates have suggested, indicating that time is running out even faster than expected.

“While our research shows it is still physically possible for the world to remain below 1.5C, it’s difficult to see how that will stay the case for long,” said Robin Lamboll, a scientist at Imperial College London and lead author of the most recent study. “Unfortunately, net-zero dates for this target are rapidly approaching, without any sign that we are meeting them.”

43 percent

How much greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 2030 to hit the temperature target

The world would have to undergo a stark transformation during this decade to have any hope of meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambitious 1.5-degree cap.

In a nutshell, global greenhouse gas emissions have to fall 43 percent by 2030, and 60 percent by 2035, before reaching net-zero by mid-century, according to a U.N. report published in September on the progress the world has made since signing the Paris Agreement. That would give the world a 50 percent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

But based on the climate pledges that countries have made to date, greenhouse gas emissions are likely to fall by just 2 percent this decade, according to a U.N. assessment published this month.

Governments are “taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis,” U.N. climate chief Simon Stiell said in a statement this month. “This means COP28 must be a clear turning point.”

$1 trillion a year

Climate funding needs of developing countries

In many ways, U.N. climate summits are all about finance. Cutting industries’ carbon pollution, protecting communities from extreme weather, rebuilding after climate disasters — it all costs money. And developing countries, in particular, don’t have enough of it.

As financing needs grow, pressure is mounting on richer nations such as the U.S. that have produced the bulk of planet-warming emissions to help developing countries cut their own pollution and adapt to a warmer world. They also face growing calls to pay for the destruction wrought by climate change, known as loss and damage in U.N.-speak.

But the flow of money from rich to poor countries has slowed. In October, a pledging conference to replenish the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund raised only $9.3 billion, even less than the $10 billion that countries had promised last time. An overdue promise by developed countries to deliver $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to rising temperatures was “likely” met last year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this month, while warning that adaptation finance had fallen by 14 percent in 2021.

As a result, the gap between what developing countries need and how much money is flowing in their direction is growing. The OECD report said developing countries will need around $1 trillion a year for climate investments by 2025, “rising to roughly $2.4 trillion each year between 2026 and 2030.”

$7 trillion

Worldwide fossil fuel subsidies in 2022

In stark contrast to the trickle of climate finance, fossil fuel subsidies have surged in recent years. In 2022, total spending on subsidies for oil, natural gas and coal reached a record $7 trillion, the International Monetary Fund said in August. That’s $2 trillion more than in 2020.

Explicit subsidies — direct government support to reduce energy prices — more than doubled since 2020, to $1.3 trillion. But the majority of subsidies are implicit, representing the fact that governments don’t require fossil fuel companies to pay for the health and environmental damage that their products inflict on society.

At the same time, countries continue pumping public and private money into fossil fuel production. This month, a U.N. report found that governments plan to produce more than twice the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with the 1.5-degree target.

66,000 square kilometers

Gross deforestation worldwide in 2022

At the COP26 climate summit two years ago in Glasgow, Scotland, nations committed to halting global deforestation by 2030. A total of 145 countries have signed the Glasgow Forest Declaration, representing more than 90 percent of global forest cover.

Yet global action is still falling short of that target. The annual Forest Declaration Assessment, produced by a collection of research and civil society organizations, estimated that the world lost 66,000 square kilometers of forest last year, or about 25,000 square miles — a swath of territory slightly larger than West Virginia or Lithuania. Most of that loss came from tropical forests.

Halting deforestation is a critical component of global climate action. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that collective contributions from agriculture, forestry and land use compose as much as 21 percent of global human-caused carbon emissions. Deforestation releases large volumes of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, and recent research suggests that carbon losses from tropical forests may have doubled since the early 2000s.

Almost 1 billion tons

The annual carbon dioxide removal gap

Given the world’s slow pace in reducing greenhouse gas pollution, scientists say a second approach is essential for slowing the Earth’s warming — removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The technology for doing this is largely untested at scale, and won’t be cheap.

A landmark report on carbon dioxide removals led by the University of Oxford earlier this year found that keeping warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less would require countries to collectively remove an additional 0.96 billion tons of CO2-equivalent a year by 2030.

About 2 billion tons are now removed every year, but that is largely achieved through the natural absorption capacity of forests.

Removing even more carbon will require countries to massively scale up carbon removal technologies, given the limited capacity of forests to absorb more carbon dioxide.

Carbon removal technologies are in the spotlight at COP28, though some countries and companies want to use them to meet net-zero while continuing to burn fossil fuels. Scientists have been clear that carbon removal cannot be a substitute for steep emissions cuts.

1,000 gigawatts

Annual growth in renewable power capacity needed to keep 1.5 degrees in reach

The shift from fossil fuels to renewables is underway, but the transition is still far too slow to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

To keep 1.5 degrees within reach, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that the world needs to add 1,000 gigawatts in renewable energy capacity every year through 2030. By comparison, the United States’ entire utility-scale electricity-generation capacity was about 1,160 gigawatts last year, according to the Department of Energy.

Last year, countries added about 300 gigawatts, according to the agency’s latest World Energy Transitions Outlook published in June.

That shortfall has prompted the EU and the climate summit’s host nation, the United Arab Emirates, to campaign for nations to sign up to a target to triple the world’s renewable capacity by 2030 at COP28, a goal also supported by the U.S. and China.

“The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable,” International Energy Agency boss Fatih Birol said last month. “It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us.”

This article is part of the Road to COP special report, presented by SQM. The article is produced with full editorial independence by POLITICO reporters and editors. Learn more about editorial content presented by outside advertisers.

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CGX and Frontera make discoveries offshore Guyana

CGX Energy Inc. and Frontera Energy Corporation, the majority shareholder of CGX and joint venture partner of CGX in the Petroleum Prospecting License for the Corentyne block offshore Guyana, have announced the discovery of a total of 114 ft (35 m) of net pay at the Wei-1 well on the Corentyne block, approximately 200 km offshore from Georgetown, Guyana.

The joint venture believes that the rock quality discovered in the Maastrichtian horizon in the Wei-1 well is analogous to that reported in the Liza Discovery on Stabroek block.

Results further demonstrate the potential for a standalone shallow oil resource development across the Corentyne block. The Joint Venture has discovered
total net pay of 342 ft (104 m) to date on the Corentyne block.

The joint venture has also announced that Houlihan Lokey, a global investment bank and capital markets expert, is supporting active pursuit of strategic options for the Corentyne block, including a potential farm down, as it seeks to develop this oil investment in one of the most attractive oil and gas destinations in the world today, Guyana. There can be no guarantee that the review of strategic options will result in a transaction.

Gabriel de Alba, Chairman of Frontera’s Board of Directors, and Co-Chairman of CGX’s Board of Directors, commented: “On behalf of the Joint Venture, I am pleased to announce the discovery of 114 ft (35 m) of net pay at the
Wei-1 well. The proven presence of medium sweet crude oil in high-quality Maastrichtian cored reservoir at the Wei-1 well, combined with the previous discovery of 68 feet of hydrocarbon log pay in Maastrichtian blocky
sands in the Kawa-1 well in 2022, confirmed the significant potential of the Corentyne block. With the joint venture’s two-well drilling programme now complete, and as a result of inbound expressions of interest from
various global third parties, the joint venture is working with Houlihan Lokey to support a review of strategic options for the Corentyne block, including a potential farm down, as it progresses its efforts to maximise value
from its potentially transformational investments in Guyana.”

Orlando Cabrales, Chief Executive Officer of Frontera, commented: “The independent lab results from the Wei-1 well are particularly encouraging for the Maastrichtian zone. Results indicate that the rock quality in the Maastrichtian at Wei-1 is analogous to that reported in the Liza discovery on Stabroek block, further demonstrating the potential for a standalone shallow oil resource
development across the entire Corentyne block. In addition, the joint venture believes that, further potential upside exists in the Campanian, in which mobile light oil was proven in downhole analysis of samples and the Santonian, which has log pay and remains a potential target for future developments. As is normal course, following discoveries such as those made by the joint venture at Wei and Kawa, additional appraisal activities will be required to further assess commerciality and as input to optimise subsurface and production system
development planning.”

Professor Suresh Narine, Executive Co-Chairman of CGX’s Board of Directors, commented: “These are exciting times for the joint venture. The Wei-1 well met the joint venture’s expectations with the successful discovery of oil. Wei-1 also delivered a tremendous amount of data, which the joint venture is now
incorporating into its geologic and geophysical models to update its initial evaluation of Kawa, and the potential in the Maastrichtian in particular, as well as its view of the potential of the remaining undrilled prospects including the prospective areas in between the Wei-1 and Kawa-1 wells. Armed with this information, the joint venture is levering Houlihan Lokey’s extensive expertise in the global O&G sector to complete a strategic review of options for the Corentyne block in one of the most exciting exploration basins in the world.”

Wei-1 results

The Wei-1 well, located approximately 14 km northwest of the joint venture’s previous Kawa-1 discovery, was safely drilled by the NobleCorp Discoverer semi-submersible mobile drilling unit in water depth of approximately 1912 f (583 m) to a total depth of 20 450 ft (6233 m). The Wei-1 well targeted Maastrichtian, Campanian and Santonian aged stacked sands within channel and fan complexes in the northern section of the Corentyne block. As reported on 28 June 2023, the joint venture’s data acquisition programme at the Wei-1 well included wireline logging, MDT fluid samples and sidewall coring throughout the various intervals. Based on this data acquisition programme and additional information provided through the independent laboratory analysis process, the joint venture is pleased to report the following:

  • In the Maastrichtian, Wei-1 test results confirm 13 ft (4 m) of net pay in high quality sandstone reservoir with rock quality consistent with that reported in the Liza discovery on Stabroek block. Fluid samples retrieved from the Maastrichtian and log analysis confirm the presence of sweet medium crude oil with a gas-oil ratio (GOR) of approximate 400 ft3/bbl.
  • In the Campanian, petrophysical analysis confirms 61 ft (19 m) of net pay almost completely contained in one contiguous sand body with good porosity and moveable oil. Oil sampled during MDT testing as well as samples analysed downhole confirm the presence of light crude oil.
  • In the Santonian, petrophysical analysis confirms 40 ft (12 m) of net pay in blocky sands with indications of oil in core samples.
  • Current interpretation of the Campanian and Santonian horizons show lower permeability than the high-quality Maastrichtian, the joint venture believes these horizons may offer additional upside potential in the future.

There were no safety or environmental incidents throughout Wei-1 well operations.

Total costs associated for the Wei-1 well are now estimated to be within US$185 – US$190 million following the successful implementation of several initiatives. Following the agreement reached between CGX and Frontera,
the company will transfer up to 4.7% of its participating interest in the Corentyne block in exchange for Frontera’s funding CGX’s unexpected additional costs associated with the Wei-1 well, which amount to
approximately US$16.5 million. If the maximum transfer occurs, the company will retain a 27.3% participating interest, while Frontera will hold a 72.7% participating interest in the Corentyne block. It is anticipated that this
transaction will be completed during December 2023.

Conceptual field development planning completed

Based on results from the Wei-1 and Kawa-1 wells, the joint venture retained SIA, a Subsea 7 – Schlumberger Joint Venture, to complete a conceptual field development plan for the northern portion of the Corentyne block including subsea architecture, development well planning, production and export facilities and other considerations. As is normal course following discoveries such as those made by the Joint Venture at Wei-1 and Kawa-1 wells, additional appraisal activities will be required before commerciality can be determined.

While such additional appraisal activities will be necessary, as a result of the third-party analysis of the Wei-1 well test results, the joint venture believes that a potential development of the Maastrichtian horizon may have lower
associated development costs and be completed on a faster timeline than a broader development of both the shallow and deep zones on the entire Corentyne block.

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Revolutionising remote assistance within the oil and gas sector with video enhancement technology

Niclas Elvgren, Head of the Professional Solutions Business Unit at Imint, considers how new video enhancement software is poised to unlock the full potential of remote assistance devices used within the oil and gas sector by addressing video quality issues.

Imagine a bustling oil exploration site, where on-site workers are engaged in complex drilling operations, geological surveys, and ensuring top-notch safety protocols. Equipped with advanced body-mounted cameras, headsets, or smart glasses, they seamlessly transmit high-definition live video feeds to remote oil experts, geologists, and drilling engineers. This technology empowers the wearer to make precise decisions, significantly reducing errors and enhancing overall efficiency.

These types of devices are already being deployed across the upstream oil and gas sector, where precision and real-time communication are paramount. Often referred to as remote assistance devices, these modern technological breakthroughs serve as an invaluable link connecting on-site workers with off-site experts, enabling instant communication in demanding and high-stress upstream oil and gas sector environments.

The picture isn’t perfect, yet…

Regardless of the type of camera or headset, two crucial elements of remote assistance devices still need to be perfected in order for the technology to reach widespread adoption in the oil and gas sector: reliable, high-quality video, and intuitive control of the onboard camera.

While remote assistance device manufacturers have made strides in connectivity and camera resolution, they have yet to address the inherent challenge of maintaining stable video feeds from cameras that are constantly in motion, and therefore may deliver blurry or shaky video.

In fast-paced oil and gas exploration and production scenarios, particularly ones involving equipment troubleshooting and complex drilling operations, on-site workers are constantly making head movements unconsciously. This is not a problem for on-site workers – as their eyes can quickly adjust to see exactly what they want to see.

That said, the video quality for remote oil and gas experts viewing the feeds has, to date, been far from a real-life experience. Feeds from body-worn cameras can appear shaky or dark to remote viewers, greatly reducing their effectiveness and even causing viewers to experience motion sickness.

Cutting-edge technology to the rescue

Fortunately, a new era of technology is emerging to confront this challenge head-on. Imint has developed a new suite of software solutions called Vidhance for Remote Assistance that helps organisations eliminate shaky video, greatly improving the value and outcomes of their remote initiatives.

These new technological advancements allow remote viewers to select an object on the live feed to lock onto it as the camera’s focus point, using automatic tracking and zooming to centre the object regardless of how it or the camera wearer moves. The suite also empowers remote viewers to adjust the camera’s exposure settings so they can ensure properly-lit imagery in even the most challenging high contrast conditions.

Hands-free is the way to be

Some organisations and remote assistance solutions have attempted to integrate stabilised hand-held smartphone or tablet cameras as the primary video input device, but they have a major inherent flaw – they require the on-site user to hold the device the entire time, leaving them with only one free hand.

In the upstream oil and gas sector, where workers often need both hands for critical tasks, this limitation is a significant drawback. While video stabilisation is a common feature in smartphones, it cannot safely be mounted for hands-free use in challenging environments, and it is typically limited to the device maker’s camera app, making it unavailable for third-party apps used to stream live video for remote assistance like Teams and Zoom.

Head-worn cameras and smart glass device manufacturers are now beginning to implement video stabilisation that is always active – even in live video scenarios. The tuning differs from that of smartphones, as the primary goal is not artistic video creation, but rather ensuring a clear and steady video stream for remote experts.

Moreover, this technology grants remote experts control over features like zoom, object tracking, and exposure adjustments, crucial tools for effective communication and decision-making in upstream oil and gas operations. Achieving this requires collaboration with solution vendors to enable remote assistance software to effectively manage the headset camera.

The best of both worlds

To fully realise the potential of remote assistance devices in the oil and gas sector, it is vital to converge cutting-edge wearable camera technology with sophisticated software solutions that prioritise video quality for raw videos being streamed. This approach enhances the functionality of these devices, granting greater autonomy to remote participants.

Now, with new video enhancement technologies available to oil and gas sector companies using remote assistance devices, systems can be built that deliver incredible results. Not only will these new software developments enhance the capabilities of any camera they are paired with, but they offer greater control to the remote participant so the on-site wearer does not have to fidget with settings or focus. Recording solutions add even greater value, offering the ability to re-watch live events and use them for training or analysis to improve future responses.

As we witness the growing adoption of remote assistance devices in the oil and gas sector, fostering a collaborative ecosystem becomes increasingly important. By providing access to advanced technologies and embracing flexible subscription models, oil and gas sector organisations can ensure that remote assistance devices stay current and remain equipped with the latest features, driving further improvements in upstream oil and gas exploration efficiency and safety.

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Woodside Energy shares third quarter report for period ended 30 September 2023

Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill said the quarter-on-quarter increase in output to 47.8 million boe was underpinned by strong operating results at Pluto LNG:

“The 99.9% reliability achieved at Pluto during the third quarter followed the completion of a maintenance turnaround in June.”

“Production from North West Shelf was impacted by planned turnaround and maintenance activities in the quarter, but the facility’s reliability was still exceptional at 98.9%.”

“Woodside’s project teams made strong progress over the course of the quarter.”

“In September, first production at the Shenzi North tieback in the US Gulf of Mexico was achieved ahead of the original 2024 schedule. Production at Mad Dog Phase 2 offshore Louisiana, which started up in April, continued to ramp up during the quarter.”

“Activity at Scarborough and Pluto Train 2 increased as planned and the project is now 46% complete. Installation of the nearshore component of the Scarborough trunkline commenced and fabrication of the
floating production unit topsides and hull continued.”

“Site construction works for Pluto Train 2 are progressing and we have awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Pluto Train 1 modifications that will allow it to process Scarborough gas.”

“The Federal Court’s 28 September decision that the Commonwealth Environment Plan for the Scarborough offshore seismic survey is invalid has not impacted our target for first LNG cargo in 2026. The decision does
however highlight the urgent need for reform of Australia’s offshore approvals process.”

“Uncertainty over approvals has the potential to add cost and delays to any offshore activities to be undertaken in Australia. In the case of gas projects, such uncertainty threatens the delivery of much-needed new supplies to the Western Australian domestic market, as well as undermining the confidence of our regional trading partners.”

“The importance of Scarborough to regional energy security was demonstrated in August when LNG Japan agreed to purchase a 10% non-participating interest in the joint venture.”

“As part of a broader strategic relationship, Woodside and LNG Japan, owned by Sumitomo Corporation and Sojitz Corporation also entered into a non-binding heads of agreement for the sale and purchase of approximately 0.9 million tpy of LNG for 10 years commencing in 2026. In addition, we entered
into non-binding agreements with Sumitomo and Sojitz to collaborate on new energy opportunities globally.”

“At Sangomar in Senegal, another two of the 23 planned wells were drilled, taking the total now completed to 14. Pre-commissioning work at the floating production storage and offloading vessel continued in Singapore.
Overall, the Sangomar project is 90% complete and we remain on track for targeted first oil in mid-2024.”

“A significant milestone for our deepwater Trion project was passed during the quarter, with the approval of the field development plan by the Mexican regulator. Project execution activities at Trion are progressing.”

“In new energy, progress was made on contracts for the plant construction scope and other critical packages at our proposed H2OK facility in Oklahoma. Technical work to support readiness for a final investment decision at H2OK is expected to be completed in 2023, although a decision itself has been delayed, pending clarification of government tax incentives and the finalisation of offtake agreements.”

“During the quarter we signed two non-binding memoranda of understanding with a total of four Japanese companies to jointly study potential carbon capture and storage (CCS) value chains between Australia and Japan. We believe that with collaboration between industry partners and governments CCS could provide a pathway to help our Japanese customers decarbonise,” she said.


  • Production increased compared to the previous quarter to 47.8 million boe primarily due to:

– higher production from Pluto LNG and Ngujima-Yin following completion of planned turnaround and maintenance activities.

– high LNG reliability at Australian operated assets, with Pluto LNG and the North West Shelf (NWS) Project achieving 99.9% and 98.9% reliability respectively for the quarter.

– higher production on Mad Dog due to the continued ramp up at the Argos platform. This was partly offset by lower NWS production due to planned turnaround and maintenance activities on the North Rankin Complex, Goodwyn Platform and Karratha Gas Plant, with production recommencing in September 2023.

  • Production from Bass Strait was lower than the corresponding quarter in 2022 due to lower gas demand following a warmer winter.

Gulf of Mexico

  • First production was successfully achieved at Shenzi North in September 2023 ahead of the 2024 target.
  • A maintenance turnaround of the Shenzi facility was completed on schedule.
  • Production continues to ramp up at the Argos platform with seven wells now online.

Australia oil

  • The Ngujima-Yin FPSO recommenced production in July following successful completion of the fiveyearly maintenance turnaround in a Singapore drydock.
    Greater Angostura.
  • In July 2023, a valve bolt failure on the Angostura gas export platform resulted in an unplanned gas release and emergency shutdown to stop the flow of gas.
    This incident is classified as a Tier 1 process safety event. Production recommenced in August 2023 following completion of safety checks and
    remediation activities.


  • The Enfield plug and abandonment (P&A) campaign continued with four wells permanently plugged. The plugging of 17 of 18 Enfield wells and removal of 16 of 18 xmas trees has been completed.
  • The Bass Strait P&A operations on Flounder, Bream A, and Kingfish A platforms continued with six wells plugged in the quarter.
  • Subsequent to the quarter, Woodside commenced removing the Nganhurra riser turret mooring which will be transported for cleaning and deconstruction in preparation for recycling or reuse.
  • Project and development activities


  • Installation of the trunkline nearshore component commenced and fabrication of the FPU topsides and hull continued.
  • The Pluto Train 2 project continued to ramp up, with both module fabrication and site construction works progressing.
  • In August 2023, Woodside entered into an agreement with LNG Japan to sell a 10% interest in the Scarborough Joint Venture.
  • In September 2023, Woodside awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for Pluto Train 1 modifications. Engineering and procurement of long-lead items are progressing.
  • The Federal Court has set aside NOPSEMA’s acceptance of the Marine Seismic Survey Environment Plan on the basis that NOPSEMA’s decision to accept the environment plan with conditions relating to consultation was invalid.
  • Engagement continues with NOPSEMA on the outstanding Commonwealth Environment Plans.
  • The Scarborough and Pluto Train 2 project was 46% complete at the end of the period and first LNG cargo is targeted for 2026.


  • The Mexican regulator, Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos, approved the Trion FDP in August 2023.
  • Awarded contracts for the drill rig; FPU and floating storage and offloading (FSO) installation; subsea trees and control system; subsea flexible piping and riser terminations.
  • Placed equipment orders for umbilical tubing and subsea manifolds.
  • Commenced FSO front-end engineering design activities and progressed shipyard engineering.

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Billionaire Harold Hamm On How Biden Is Holding American Energy Hostage

Fresh from publishing his memoirs, Game Changer, the oilman hosted a high-powered Biden-bashing summit.

Harold Hamm was eating it up. Sitting at a table near the stage with his family, the 77-year-old oil billionaire listened intently as one after another of his hand-picked lineup preached to the choir at the first ever American Energy Security Summit held at the shiny new Hamm Institute for American Energy.

“Joe Biden hates American energy,” declared Nikki Haley to an audience of 350 middle-aged oil and gas executives. “When the president talks, he demonizes companies like yours. It’s anti-American, and it needs to stop.”

Haley, whose campaign and Stand For America PAC have received at least $28,000 from Hamm, promised that as president she would cut federal gasoline and diesel taxes. “Every ounce of energy we get from home we don’t have to buy from somebody else, especially our enemies.” And to help spread America’s energy bonanza around the world, she would fast track permitting for pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals. “We’re going to open our country’s floodgates. There’s no such thing as too much American energy.”

Hamm agrees with Haley on Biden. “Our global standing is in decline because of his moves on energy,” Hamm tells Forbes. “Biden, from his very first executive orders, has done nothing but make energy prices in this country go up while increasing national security risk,” by promoting oil development in Iran and Venezuela rather than Wyoming.

Having finished taking Continental Resources private, and after publishing his book, Game Changer, last month, Hamm figured that the perfect time to hold the first ever energy summit at his new institute (funded by his $50 million gift to Oklahoma State University) would be the Monday following the U.N. Climate Week in New York— as if some of us frequent flyers needed an antidote to what he sees as a naive belief among climate activists that we can just quit fossil fuels.

Among the highlights, David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, rejected any notion that Wall Street should stop financing oil companies. “We have to support traditional energy. If we don’t have reliable energy at an affordable price society won’t function,” said Solomon.

The message from Big Oil companies was that a low-carbon transition will not happen without them. “We’re not the enemy,” said Mike Wirth, CEO of Chevron. “If you exclude this industry, I guarantee that you will not meet the goals you want.” It’s crazy, Wirth added, “to pretend it’s possible to build a new energy system without leveraging the old one.”

Transition is the wrong word; it’s and, and, and,” offered Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli, insisting that fossil fuels are not going to be replaced, but supplemented.

Former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lambasted Biden administration efforts to promote electric vehicles powered by batteries and solar panels — categories dominated by China, which for all of its green hype, last year burned a record 5 billion tons of coal, after adding more coal power in the past five years than is in the entire United States. “No chance China is going to cut,” said Pompeo. “[President Xi] is going to build coal fired [power plants] as long as economically viable. He will not commit climate change hari-kari.

As Hamm sees it, Biden is holding American energy hostage. He resented White House threats last year to impose a windfall profits tax after oil spiked with the start of the Ukraine war. And he thinks the administration was foolish to tap 180 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when there wasn’t any real oil shortage. “The SPR is meant to be a reserve for times of war, not of politics,” says Hamm.

Worse, it’s a trick you can only do once. The beneficiary of Biden’s oil policy is the Saudis, says oil analyst Amrita Sen of Energy Aspects, who told the summit that the Saudis are “revenue optimizers and maximizers” and are making $70 million per day more under premium pricing than before they cut output by 2 million barrels per day — purposefully tightening the global oil market because America’s SPR is no longer a threat.


Hamm is not a charismatic public speaker. His gravelly drawl can be hard even for midwesterners to parse. Which is why he wrote down what he needed to say in his new book Game Changer: Our 50-Year Mission To Secure America’s Energy Independence. He insists he’s not calling himself a “game changer.’’ Instead, he says, his book’s title refers to the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that has come to be known as fracking. That’s a term Hamm hates as much as being called a fracker, which to his ear sounds pejorative and disrespectful to the technology’s significance in helping make the United States the world’s biggest oil producer (12.8 million barrels per day).

He organized the book in his inner sanctum — a windowless room on the 13th floor of Continental Resources’ Oklahoma City headquarters lined with boxes of records, clippings, photographs and awards. He has filled hundreds of yellow legal pads over six decades and appears to still have them all.

Around the walls is posted a long timeline, stretching back decades. Perhaps his most precious artifact is a term paper he wrote in high school, titled “Oil.” Encouraged by teacher James E. Hunter to explore his curiosity, a teenaged Hamm wrote 20 pages in a neat cursive script. It’s impressive work, especially for a kid who was the youngest of 13 and grew up barefoot picking cotton on an Oklahoma farm. The project birthed his lifelong obsession for finding oil.

He did it the hard way. A college drop out and largely self taught geologist, Hamm started off with a trucking company 56 years ago, hauling away oily flowback water from drilling sites, skimming crude off the top to make a few bucks. He put one million miles on his truck before ever drilling his first well. His daughter Shelly Lambertz wrote an Afterward for the book, recalling “the countless wristwatches Dad would go through because oil seeped inside them.” He’s since become the world’s richest truck driver, with a family fortune of some $25 billion.

Hamm really got going around 1995 when he first began experimenting with steerable drilling in the Cedar Hills oil field of Montana. It was his first time drilling so-called “tight” rock, low in porosity and permeability. Frustrated that conventional vertical drilling methods didn’t work, he tried then-new technology enabling drillers to steer their bits — first down, then turn 90-degrees sideways to bore for a couple miles through oil-filled rock. It worked like a charm, with wells producing 900 barrels per day. “That opened up all the tight oil reserves in America.” In 2007, in order to raise cash to drill in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, Hamm took Continental public, selling 15%.

Hamm was distracted but undeterred by anti-fracking activists like Josh Fox, who made the 2010 movie “GasLand.” He considers it part of a smear campaign against U.S. natural gas led by Russia, which lamented losing LNG market share to the frackers. For evidence, Hamm points to a 200-page report prepared in 2018 for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee detailing NATO intelligence that Russian intelligence agents provided support for anti-fracking environmental groups including funding NGOs with $95 million.

Hamm considers perhaps his greatest accomplishment the incessant lobbying he undertook ahead of the 2015 legislation that lifted a federal ban on the export of domestic crude oil, allowing independent producers like Continental to cut out middlemen and sell their crude directly to international buyers. He predicted to Forbes a decade ago that the U.S. oil industry would double output of crude oil and other raw liquids like propane. And so it has, to nearly 20 million barrels per day.

Meanwhile, natural gas production keeps growing, to more than 110 billion cubic feet per day. Burning natural gas releases just half the carbon dioxide emissions for the same energy as coal. As shale gas has displaced coal in power generation, the U.S. has reduced carbon emissions by some 15% over the past 20 years — the greatest volumetric and percentage carbon reduction by any developed nation. It’s proof positive for Hamm that frackers aren’t part of the climate problem, but the solution.

Even better, America is exporting record amounts of gas — last year sending 12 billion cubic feet per day as LNG to Europe, where it displaced Russian supplies. As Robert Pender, founder of Venture Global LNG, told the summit crowd, “we can do the same miracle worldwide.”

Hamm’s biggest play in recent years (after perhaps writing a $975 million check to settle his 2015 divorce from Sue Ann) was last year’s move to take Continental Resources private. He says that even though his family already controlled 80% of the shares, raising $4.3 billion to buy in the rest was a no brainer, given that the equity markets were valuing Continental at just four times annual earnings. He says his top priority now is paying off debt, which should take a couple years.

Already the nation’s biggest private oil operation, Continental is closing in on 500,000 barrels per day. While they operate some 23 rigs, among the most nationwide, Continental CEO Doug Lawler cautions that there’s no drill-baby-drill ethos here. They’re about generating value, not volumes. The biggest boon of going private: not dealing with investors and analysts has freed up at least 20% of executives’ time.


Easily the most intriguing discussion at the summit was when Hamm went up on stage to chat with Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. They have some interests in common. Oxy, in the Permian basin, is developing technology to suck carbon dioxide out of the air using so-called direct air capture machines. Oxy will add that CO2 onto a pipeline network that it operates in west Texas, and will also hook up a new electric generating plant it is building in a venture with NETPower — the novel plant combusts natural gas, but captures all of the resultant CO2 rather than letting it waft into the air. Oxy will take all this captured CO2, pressurize it, and inject it deep into old oil fields where the gas will goose out additional quantities of oil while getting trapped permanently in the rock.

This is a technique that Oxy has been perfecting for decades in west Texas, and which Hollub believes will work in their fields in Colorado, Wyoming and Oman. “We will apply carbon dioxide to shale,” Hollub says. “There is still three times more shale recovery to go.”

Hollub is not as knee-jerk dismissive of ESG concerns as some of the summit speakers — because she thinks sequestering carbon dioxide underground is a viable engineered solution to the problem that will give Oxy “social license to operate.”

Speaking on a separate panel, Chris Kendall, CEO of Denbury Resources (soon to be acquired by ExxonMobil) explained that for decades they’ve been pioneering carbon dioxide injection along the Gulf Coast; their objective is to “pre-offset the emissions” from oil by sequestering more CO2 than the oil would eventually produce when used as gasoline or diesel. They call it “blue oil.”

Hamm agrees, which is why Continental has invested $250 million into a project that will take CO2 produced at 34 corn ethanol plants across the midwest and move it by pipeline to North Dakota where they’ll inject it into porous rock layers that are naturally free from oil and gas deposits. Gov. Doug Burgum, speaking at the summit, said he expects “North Dakota’s geologic jackpot” to attract $40 billion in carbon sequestration investments.

“At these ethanol plants all the CO2 generated is just going out into the air,” says Hamm. “Why not capture that and sequester it and not pollute the air. It’s the right thing to do.”

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How Germany lost its reputation as the economic envy of the world

The loss of cheap gas from Russia played a part, but decisions in the boom years are now being questioned.

For most of this century, Germany racked up one economic success after another, dominating global markets for high-end products like luxury cars and industrial machinery, selling so much to the rest of the world that half the economy ran on exports.


Jobs were plentiful and the government’s financial coffers grew as other European countries drowned in debt, and books were written about what other countries could learn from Germany.

No longer.

Now, Germany is the world’s worst-performing major developed economy, with both the International Monetary Fund and European Union expecting it to shrink this year.

It follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the loss of Moscow’s cheap natural gas — an unprecedented shock to Germany’s energy-intensive industries, long the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe.

The sudden underperformance by Europe’s largest economy has set off a wave of criticism, handwringing and debate about the way forward.

Germany risks “de-industrialisation” as high energy costs and government inaction on other chronic problems threaten to send new factories and high-paying jobs elsewhere, said Christian Kullmann, CEO of major German chemical company Evonik Industries AG.

From his 21st-floor office in the west German town of Essen, Kullmann points out the symbols of earlier success across the historic Ruhr Valley industrial region: smokestacks from metal plants, giant heaps of waste from now-shuttered coal mines, a massive BP oil refinery and Evonik’s sprawling chemical production facility.

These days, the former mining region is a symbol of the energy transition, dotted with wind turbines and green space.

The loss of cheap Russian natural gas needed to power factories “painfully damaged the business model of the German economy,” Kullmann said.

After Russia cut off most of its gas to the European Union, the German government asked Evonik to keep its 1960s coal-fired power plant running a few months longer.

The company is shifting away from the plant to two gas-fired generators that can later run on hydrogen amid plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.


One debated solution: a government-funded cap on industrial electricity prices to get the economy through the renewable energy transition.

The proposal from Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck of the Greens has faced resistance from Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, and pro-business coalition partner the Free Democrats. Environmentalists say it would prolong reliance on fossil fuels.

Kullmann is for it: “It was mistaken political decisions that primarily developed and influenced these high energy costs. And it can’t now be that German industry, German workers should be stuck with the bill.”

The price of gas is roughly double what it was in 2021, hurting companies that need it to keep glass or metal red-hot and molten 24 hours a day to make glass, paper and metal coatings used in buildings and cars.

A second blow came as key trade partner China experiences a slowdown after several decades of strong economic growth.


These outside shocks have exposed cracks in Germany’s foundation ignored during years of success, including lagging use of digital technology in government and business and a lengthy process to get badly needed renewable energy projects approved.

Other dawning realisations: The money the government had on hand came in part because of delays in investing in roads, the rail network and rural high-speed internet. A 2011 decision to shut down Germany’s remaining nuclear power plants has been questioned amid worries about electricity prices and shortages. Companies face a severe shortage of skilled labour, with job openings hitting a record of just under two million.

And relying on Russia to reliably supply gas through the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea — since shut off and damaged amid the war — was conceded by the government to have been a mistake.

Now, clean energy projects are slowed by extensive bureaucracy and not-in-my-backyard resistance. Spacing limits from homes keep annual construction of wind turbines in single digits in the southern Bavarian region.

A €10 billion-euro electrical line bringing wind power from the north to industry in the south has faced delays from political resistance to unsightly above-ground towers. Burying the line means completion in 2028 instead of 2022.


In the meantime, energy-intensive companies are looking to cope with the price shock.

Drewsen Spezialpapiere, which makes passport and stamp paper as well as paper straws, bought three wind turbines near its mill in northern Germany to cover about a quarter of its external electricity demand as it moves away from natural gas.

Specialty glass company Schott AG experimented with substituting emissions-free hydrogen for gas at the plant where it produces glass in tanks as hot as 1,700 degrees Celsius.

It worked — but only on a small scale, with hydrogen supplied by truck. Mass quantities of hydrogen produced with renewable electricity and delivered by pipeline would be needed and don’t exist yet.

Scholz has called for the energy transition to take on the urgency used to set up four floating natural gas terminals in months to replace lost Russian gas. The liquefied natural gas that comes to the terminals by ship from the US, Qatar and elsewhere is more expensive than Russian pipeline supplies, but the effort showed what Germany can do.

However, squabbling among the coalition government over the energy price cap and a law barring new gas furnaces has exasperated business leaders.

Germany grew complacent during a “golden decade” of economic growth in 2010-2020 says Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg bank. Schmieding, who once dubbed Germany “the sick man of Europe” in an influential 1998 analysis, thinks that label would be overdone today, considering its low unemployment and strong government finances. That gives Germany room to act — but lowers the pressure to make changes.

The most important immediate step, Schmieding said, would be to end uncertainty over energy prices. Whatever policies are chosen, “it would already be a great help if the government could agree on them fast so that companies know what they are up to and can plan accordingly instead of delaying investment decisions,” he said.

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Armenians find themselves pushed aside yet again

Jamie Dettmer is opinion editor at POLITICO Europe.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world is “inching ever closer to a great fracture in economic and financial systems and trade relations.”

That may be so, but not when it comes to Azerbaijan.

A country a third of the size of Britain and with a population of about 10 million, Azerbaijan has faced few problems in bridging geopolitical divisions. And recently, Baku has been offering a masterclass in how to exploit geography and geology to considerable advantage.

From Washington to Brussels, Moscow to Beijing, seemingly no one wants to fall out with Azerbaijan; everyone wants to be a friend. Even now, as Armenia has turned to the world for help, accusing Baku of attempted ethnic cleansing in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh — the land-locked and long-contested Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.

Warning signs had been mounting in recent weeks that Baku might be planning a major offensive, which it dubbed an “anti-terrorist operation,” and Armenia had been sending up distress flares. But not only were these largely overlooked, Baku has since faced muted criticism for its assault as well.

Western reaction could change, though, if Azerbaijan were to now engage in mass ethnic cleansing — but Baku is canny enough to know that.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Azerbaijan has been courted by all sides, becoming one of the war’s beneficiaries.

On a visit to Baku last year, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had only warm words for the country’s autocratic leader Ilham Aliyev, saying she saw him as a reliable and trustworthy energy partner for the European Union.

Then, just a few weeks later, Alexander Lukashenko — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s satrap in Belarus — had no hesitation in describing Aliyev as “absolutely our man.”

Is there any other national leader who can be a pal of von der Leyen and Lukashenko at the same time?

Aliyev is also a friend of Turkey; Baku and Beijing count each other as strategic partners, with Azerbaijan participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative; and the country has been working on expanding military cooperation with Israel as well. In 2020 — during the last big flare-up in this intractable conflict — Israel had supplied Azerbaijan with drones, alongside Turkey.

That’s an impressive list of mutually exclusive friends and suitors — and location and energy explain much.

Upon her arrival in Azerbaijan’s capital last year, von der Leyen wasn’t shy about highlighting Europe’s need to “diversify away from Russia” for its energy needs, announcing a deal with Baku to increase supplies from the southern gas corridor — the 3,500-kilometer pipeline bringing gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe.

She also noted that Azerbaijan “has a tremendous potential in renewable energy” in offshore wind and green hydrogen, enthusing that “gradually, Azerbaijan will evolve from being a fossil fuel supplier to becoming a very reliable and prominent renewable energy partner to the European Union.”

There was no mention of Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record, rampant corruption or any call for the scores of political prisoners to be released.

Azerbaijan uses oil and gas “to silence the EU on fundamental rights issues,” Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch complained at the time. “The EU should not say a country is reliable when it is restricting the activities of civil society groups and crushing political dissent,” he added.

Eve Geddie, director of Amnesty International’s Brussels office, warned: “Ukraine serves as a reminder that repressive and unaccountable regimes are rarely reliable partners and that privileging short-term objectives at the expense of human rights is a recipe for disaster.”

But von der Leyen isn’t the first top EU official to speak of Azerbaijan as such a partner. In 2019, then EU Council President Donald Tusk also praised Azerbaijan for its reliability.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, however, the EU’s courting has become even more determined — and, of course, the bloc isn’t alone. Rich in oil and gas and located between Russia, Iran, Armenia, Georgia and the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is a strategic prize, sitting “on the crossroads of former major empires, civilizations and regional and global powerhouses,” according to Fariz Ismailzade of ADA University in Baku.

And Azerbaijan’s growing importance in the latest great game in Central Asia is reflected in the increase in foreign diplomatic missions located in its capital — in 2005 there were just two dozen, now there are 85.

For Ankara, and Beijing — eager to expand their influence across Central Asia — Azerbaijan is a key player in regional energy projects, as well as the development of new regional railways and planned infrastructure and connectivity projects.

Thanks to strong linguistic, religious and cultural ties, Turkey has been Azerbaijan’s main regional ally since it gained independence. But Baku has been adept at making sure it keeps in with all its suitors. It realizes they all offer opportunities but could also be dangerous, should relations take a dive.

And this holds for all the key players in the region, whether it be the EU, Turkey, China or Russia. The reason Baku can get on with a highly diverse set of nations — and why there likely won’t be many serious repercussions for Baku with this latest military foray — is that no one wants to give geopolitical rivals an edge and upset the fragile equilibrium in Central Asia. That includes its traditional foe Iran – Baku and Tehran have in recent months been trying to build a détente after years of hostility.

For the Armenians, so often finding themselves wronged by history, this is highly unfortunate. They might have been better advised to follow Azerbaijan’s example and try to be everyone’s friend, instead of initially depending on Russia, then pivoting West — a pirouette that’s lost them any sympathy in Moscow.

But then again, Armenia hasn’t been blessed with proven reserves of oil or natural gas like its neighbor.

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Poland turns toward bets on offshore wind

The development of offshore wind farms in Poland has never before taken place on such a large scale. The PGE Group is the biggest investor in offshore wind farms in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea in terms of wind turbine capacity. As part of its offshore program, the PGE Group is currently implementing three offshore wind farm projects.

Two of them are the offshore wind power plants Baltica 2 and Baltica 3, which comprise the Baltica Offshore Wind Farm with a total capacity of 2.5GW. PGE is implementing this project together with the Danish partner Ørsted. Both phases of the Baltica offshore wind farm have location decisions, environmental decisions, and grid connection agreements with the operator, and have been granted the right to a Contract for Difference (CfD).

As part of its offshore program, the PGE Group is currently implementing three offshore wind farm projects.

Last April, PGE and Ørsted took a major step in the Baltica 2 project. They signed the first of the contracts for the supply of wind turbines. Subsequently, they also signed a contract for the supply of offshore substations in June. Baltica 2 is expected to start producing green energy in 2027, while the entire Baltica Offshore Wind Farm will be completed within this decade.

Independently of the Baltica Offshore Wind Farm, the PGE Group is developing a third project, Baltica 1. Commissioning is scheduled after 2030 and its capacity will be approximately 0.9GW. The project already has a location permit and a connection agreement. In May 2022, wind measurement studies for this project started, followed by environmental studies in autumn 2022. The energy produced by all three farms will supply nearly 5.5 million households in Poland.  This means that more than a third of all Polish households will be provided with energy from wind power.

Baltica 2 is expected to start producing green energy in 2027, while the entire Baltica Offshore Wind Farm will be completed within this decade.

At the same time, the PGE Group has received final decisions on new permits for the construction of artificial islands for five new areas to be developed in the Baltic Sea, which will enable the construction of further offshore wind power plants in the future. The total capacity potential from the new areas provides PGE with more than 3.9GW. Considering the projects currently under development (Baltica 2, Baltica 3 and Baltica 1) with a total capacity of approximately 3.4GW, PGE Capital Group’s offshore wind portfolio may increase to over 7.3GW by 2040.

Offshore wind — a new chapter for the Polish economy

A long-term vision for the development of the Polish offshore wind sector, based on the carefully assessed potential of this technology, will support the development of the energy sector in Poland. The benefits of offshore wind development in Poland should be considered in several aspects — first and foremost, due to their total capacity, offshore wind farms will become a very important new source of clean, green energy for Poland in just a few years.

“Offshore wind energy will make a significant contribution to Poland’s energy mix. The three projects currently under construction by the PGE Group, with a total capacity of almost 3.5GW, will generate electricity for almost 5.5 million households. All the investments planned for the Baltic Sea are crucial for strengthening Poland’s energy security. Regarding the Polish economy, in particular the economy of the entire Pomerania region, the construction of offshore wind farms will provide a strong development stimulus. This is not only about businesses closely related to wind energy, such as companies supplying components for offshore wind power plants. Jobs will also be created by businesses willing to join the development of this new sector and take advantage of the opportunities it brings,” said Wojciech Dąbrowski, president of the management board of PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna S.A.

All the investments planned for the Baltic Sea are crucial for strengthening Poland’s energy security.

The construction of offshore wind farms will ensure Poland’s energy security

The development of offshore wind is also crucial to Poland’s energy security and independence. Thanks to the production of energy from renewable sources, there is no need to import fossil fuels from abroad or rely on dwindling domestic coal resources.

This means that Poland will not be dependent on external fuel suppliers or various international developments. The ability to generate electricity independently contributes to strengthening the country’s energy sovereignty.

Energy, environmental and social benefits

Poland has ambitions and capabilities to become one of the leaders in offshore wind energy development in the Baltic Sea and even in Europe. We have plenty of resources for the development of offshore wind farms because of our favorable geographical location and natural conditions — strong, stable winds and the relatively shallow considerable area of the Baltic Sea, located in the exclusive economic zone. The Baltic Sea has some of the best wind conditions not only in Europe but also in the world, which are comparable to those in the North Sea.

Offshore wind energy is a key element of sustainable development. For Poland, green wind energy means savings, security and energy independence at the same time. Electricity from renewable sources is less expensive than that generated from fossil fuels. By choosing green energy, consumers can save on their electricity bills while at the same time supporting the development of a green energy sector. As a zero-emission energy source, it contributes to achieving climate policy goals and minimizing negative environmental impact. It is a huge step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The creation of an infrastructure for the construction of alternative energy sources with wind farms will ensure the diversification of energy sources.

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Vienna seeks to calm Selmayr ‘blood money’ furor

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Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg signaled his government was de-escalating a row with the EU’s senior representative in the country, Martin Selmayr, who last week accused Vienna of paying “blood money” to Moscow by continuing to purchase large quantities of Russian gas.

“Everything has already been said about this,” Schallenberg said over the weekend in a written response to questions from POLITICO on the affair. “We are working hard to drastically reduce our energy dependency on Russia and we will continue to do so.”

Austrian officials insist that the country’s continued reliance on Russian gas is only temporary and that it will wean itself off by 2027 (over the past 18 months, the share of Russian gas in Austria has dropped from 80 percent to an average of 56 percent).

Some experts question the viability of that plan, considering that OMV, the country’s dominant oil and gas company, signed a long-term supply deal with Gazprom under former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that company executives say is virtually impossible to withdraw from.

Those complications are likely one reason why Vienna — even as its officials point out that Austria is far from the only EU member to continue to rely on Russian gas — doesn’t want to dwell on the substance of Selmayr’s criticism.

“We should rather focus on maintaining our unity and cohesion within the European Union in dealing with Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine,” Schallenberg told POLITICO. “We can only overcome the challenges ahead of us in a united effort.”

Schallenberg’s remarks follow a decision by the European Commission on Friday to summon Selmayr to Brussels to answer for his actions. A spokesman for the EU executive on Friday characterized the envoy’s comments as “not only unnecessary, but also inappropriate.”

Given that the Austrian government is led by a center-right party, which is allied with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s European People’s Party bloc, the sharp reaction from Brussels is not surprising. An official close to the Austrian government said Vienna had not demanded Selmayr’s removal.

Selmayr made the “blood money” comment, by his own account, while defending the Commission chief. He told an Austrian newspaper that he made the remark during a public discussion in Vienna on Wednesday in response to an audience member who accused von der Leyen of “warmongering” in Ukraine and having “blood on her hands.”

“This surprises me, because blood money is sent to Russia every day with the gas bill,” Selmayr told the audience.

Selmayr expressed surprise that there wasn’t more public outcry in Austria over the country’s continued reliance on Russian natural gas, which has accounted for about 56 percent of its purchases so far this year. (A review of a transcript of the event by Austrian daily Die Presse found no mention of the comments Selmayr attributed to the audience member, however.)

Austria’s deep relationship to Russia, which has continued unabated since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has prompted regular criticism from its European peers.

Even so, the EU envoy’s unvarnished assessment caused an immediate uproar in the neutral country, especially on the populist far right, whose leaders called for Selmayr’s immediate dismissal.

Europe Minister Karoline Edtstadler called the remarks “dubious and counterproductive” | Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

Schallenberg’s ministry summoned Selmayr on Thursday to answer for his comments and the country’s Europe Minister, Karoline Edtstadler, called the remarks “dubious and counterproductive.” Some in Vienna also questioned whether Selmayr, who as a senior Commission official helped Germany navigate the shoals of EU bureaucracy to push through the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline — thus increasing Europe’s dependency on Russian gas — was really in a position to criticize Austria.

Nonetheless, Selmayr’s opinion carries considerable weight in Austria, given his history as the Commission’s most senior civil servant and right-hand man to former Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Though Selmayr, who is German, has a record of living up to his country’s reputation for directness and sharp elbows, even his enemies consider him to be one of the EU’s best minds.

His rhetorical gifts have made him a considerable force in Austria, where he arrived in 2019 (after stepping down under a cloud in Brussels). He is a regular presence on television and in print media, weighing in on everything from the euro common currency to security policy.

After Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer recently pledged to anchor a right to pay with euro bills and coins in cash-crazed Austria’s constitution, for example, Selmayr reminded his host country that that right already existed under EU law. What’s more, he wrote, Austrians had agreed to hand control of the common currency to the EU when they voted to join the bloc in 1994.

A few weeks later, he interjected himself into the country’s security debate, arguing that “Europe’s army is NATO,” an unwelcome take in a country clinging on to its neutrality.

Though Selmayr’s interventions tend to rub Austria’s government the wrong way, they’ve generally hit the mark.

The latest controversy and Selmayr’s general approach to the job point to a fundamental divide in the EU over the role of the European Commission’s local representatives. Most governments want the envoys to serve like traditional ambassadors and to carry out their duties, as one Austria official put it to POLITICO recently, “without making noise.”

Yet Selmayr’s tenure suggests that the role is often most effective when structured as a corrective, or reality check, by viewing national political debates through the lens of the broader EU.

In Austria, where the anti-EU Freedom Party is leading the polls by a comfortable margin ahead of next year’s general election, that perspective is arguably more necessary than ever.

Victor Jack contributed reporting.

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The Texas Tycoon Making A New Fortune Selling Sand To Frackers

Bud Brigham made hundreds of millions from the sale of two oil companies. His sand company could make him a billionaire — if he can avoid the tiny lizards.

By Christopher Helman, Forbes Staff

Growing up in Midland, Texas, there wasn’t a lot to do, Bud Brigham says. “We used to sled on the dunes—using a cardboard box. If you were really fancy you made a sled, put laminate on the bottom and waxed it.” Fifty years later, you can still sled the giant sand dunes at Monahans State Park. If you’re lucky you might spot a threatened three-inch dunes sagebrush lizard skittering amid the shinnery oak bushes.

What you will see for sure is sand trucks. Lots of them. Brigham’s company, Atlas Energy Solutions, fills up to 1,200 trucks a day, each with 24 tons of sand destined for oil fracking operations. Brigham’s no longer playing on the dunes; instead, he’s digging them up—to the tune of 10 million tons a year.

At the heart of Atlas’ mine in bone-dry Kermit, Texas, is the incongruous sight of a 50-acre blue lagoon, where barges dredge the sand, sucking it up through hoses. It goes through cleaners, dryers and screens, then into tall silos for loading into trucks.

The sand doesn’t have far to go. For hundreds of miles around Kermit, the landscape, known as the Permian Basin, is dotted with thousands of oil-and-gas wells, with dozens of new ones being fracked every day. You cannot frack without sand—and you need preposterous amounts of it, on the order of 10,000 tons per well. At the drilling site that sand is mixed with water, then injec­ted at high pressure into the wellbore (often three miles down, then two or more miles horizontally). This subterranean blasting, Brigham explains, “props open fissures to let the oil and gas out.”

Brigham’s six-year-old company, which went public in March and now sports a $1.8 billion market cap, is the biggest sand supplier in the Permian, with 25% of the market and deep enough reserves to keep digging for 100 years. Brigham, 63, owns 15% of the company. Add in his proceeds from a decade of oil deals, and Forbes estimates his net worth is in excess of $500 million.

Atlas has big plans for its $300 million in IPO proceeds. The company has begun building a 42-mile electric sand conveyor belt made of reinforced rubber, called Dune Express. “It’s really four ten-mile conveyors,” says Atlas’ president, John Turner, standing atop the Kermit silos looking west to where the line will extend over the New Mexico border into the world’s biggest fracking hotspot, where ExxonMobil, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum plan thousands of wells in the coming decades.

The oil companies are thrilled. Before local mines opened, they had to buy sand by the trainload from as far away as Wisconsin and pay $50 a ton just for transportation. Today Atlas, the dominant sand supplier, is gushing cash. In the first quarter of 2023, it generated $63 million in net income on $153 million in sales. Mining costs are about $7 per ton, with about $3 a ton in royalties. With sand selling for about $43 a ton, Goldman Sachs analyst Neil Mehta sees Atlas’ net income surpassing $500 million by 2025, thanks in part to Brigham’s conveyor belt, which should be fully operational by the end of 2024. The Dune Express will cut transportation costs in half to about $7 per ton.

Other cost savings are immeasurable. “This project is going to save lives,” says Hope Williams, a former Winkler County commissioner and member of the Kermit City Council. Since the sand boom started in 2016, the public roads have become choked with 40-ton sand trucks, leading to horrific accidents on State Highways 302 and 285. Across the Permian region, 277 people died on the roads in 2022, up 19% over 2021. Moving sand by conveyor instead of truck could take 70% of sand trucks off the roads around Kermit.

The Vault


There are plenty of ways to get rich in the sand—just ask Astrid Rosing, who made a fortune off the stuff many decades before the fracking revolution. Rosing had risen from a humble stenographer to a Chicago-based supplier of “80,000 barrels of cement” and “600 cars of building partitions,” plus sand and other materials “for many of the largest building enterprises in the Middle West” when Forbes profiled her unlikely rise in 1918. Some of the structures she helped raise, such as Chicago’s Crane Company Building, still stand. Rosing died at age 79 in 1954.

“We will need 1,500 cars of sand and gravel for that warehouse,” reported a Chicago contractor to his firm.

“Where shall we buy it?”

“Order it of Astrid Rosing and you’ll get service,” came the reply.

“Are you sure this Rosing man is reliable?”

“Man! That business belongs to a woman—built it up herself, and I want to tell you that when I need materials in double quick time I always deal with Miss Rosing.” —Forbes, March 30, 1918

Sandman Brigham lives 300 miles away in Austin, a green oasis relative to Midland. His office sits on a bluff above the Colorado River, with downtown views. He drives a black Ford Bronco with a bumper sticker that reads, “Who is John Galt?” — a famous line from his favorite book, Atlas Shrugged, by libertarian icon Ayn Rand.

Brigham’s parents divorced when he was young. His mother raised him and five siblings in Midland, working for oilfield legends like T. Boone Pickens’ partners Cyril Wagner Jr. and Jack E. Brown. Brigham studied geophysics at the University of Texas, then got a job at Western Geophysical studying seismic data. “I was just one little cog in the wheel. I felt I could add so much more value,” he recalls. In 1984, he got a job at Rosewood, the oil-and-hotels holding company owned by Caroline Hunt, a daughter of oil baron H.L. Hunt, who was considered the richest man in the world when he died in 1974. “There, I knew everything that was going on. I felt empowered.”

In 1990, at age 30, he founded Brigham Exploration to drill for oil, using then-novel subterranean seismic imaging to spot reservoirs. He took the company public in 1997, just in time for the great American oil boom of the early 2000s, made possible by the combination of steerable drill bits and hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking). Brigham acquired 400,000 acres in North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields, competing against the likes of billionaire Harold Hamm. The shale boom was on. “When I started in the 1980s, most holes were dry holes. Now it’s a factory on the ground,” Brigham says. In 2011 Norway’s Statoil (now Equinor) bought Brigham Exploration for $4.7 billion.

Brigham cleared about $100 million on the deal and was keen to put it to work in his next venture. Brigham Resources leased 80,000 acres in the Permian and started drilling, funded with Brigham’s cash and an additional $700 million in private equity. Brigham’s investors tripled their money in 2017 when Diamondback Energy bought the company for $2.5 billion. Brigham’s take was about $300 million.

He could have started another oil company, but having bought a lot of sand over the previous decade, he knew a good business when he saw it. When the fracking revolution began, drillers believed that the most effective so-called “propp­ant” would be relatively large-grained, perfectly round sand like Northern White, railed in from mines in Wisconsin. “Sphericity is so important for crush strength,” Brigham notes. At first, “We thought the coarser grains were better because [they offered] more space for oil and gas to get through.” They even experimented with microscopic ceramic balls.

“We tried everything,” he says, and were surprised when consensus emerged among Per­mian frackers that the most effective sand was right in their backyard. In 2017 Brigham and some friends founded Atlas Sand and began negotiating the rights to mine two giant dunes.

Separately, Brigham had been building another public company, Brigham Minerals, which focused on buying rights to oil and gas still in the ground. It raised $300 million in a 2019 IPO, then late last year merged with Denver’s Sitio Royalties in a $4.8 billion deal—freeing up Brigham to focus on Atlas.

You can’t corner the market on sand in the Permian without visiting the Sealy & Smith Foundation, which owns a 10-by-10-mile block of land encompassing the biggest sand dunes and the park where Brigham sledded as a kid, as well as myriad oil wells. About 140 years ago, John Sealy had acquired the large tract for a family retreat. The arid land had natural springs, and Sealy’s original idea was that they could provide water for the locomotives running on transcontinental rail lines. Oil—and now sand—has proven vastly more lucrative. The foundation has gone on to contribute more than $1 billion from oil, gas and sand royalties to building research hospitals for the University of Texas. It will make a risk-free royalty of about $3 on every ton that Atlas mines for the next 94 years.

Brigham’s 42-mile conveyor belt, made from steel and reinforced rubber, was designed by Atlas engineers with the help of a wind tunnel at Texas A&M. It took four years to negotiate with ranchers for rights of way.

Automation is key. From a control room at HQ in Austin, technicians remotely activate spouts on the silos to fill customers’ sand trucks, each of which has been fitted with an RFID tag. “We love exponential efficiency,” Brigham says. Even after the Dune Express is complete, they’ll still need a lot of trucks to move sand from the conveyor belt over unpaved, rocky oilfield roads to drilling sites. Atlas has already bought 120 military-grade Mack trucks, which can haul triple trailers filled with 72 tons of sand. It’s also working with Robotic Research, developer of autonomous trucking systems for the military, in the hope that these trucks will eventually drive themselves.

Infrastructure and logistics aren’t Brigham’s only challenges. Drilling and sand mining are habitat killers for the tiny dunes sagebrush lizard, which lives among the shinnery oaks growing in the dunes. In June, The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said it was seeking comment until September on a proposal to place the lizard on the endangered species list. This could severely limit sand drilling and mining in the area. “Where the lizard is living there should be no more removal of its habitat and destruction,” says Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Anticipating trouble, Atlas has already been working with the Department of Interior and other agencies on conservation plans that might enable the lizard and the oil industry to peacefully coexist. Brigham argues that many of Atlas’ large-scale operations are on the giant open dunes, far from shinnery oak ecosystems.

For all its 5 million barrels per day of oil production, the Permian Basin remains a desolate, inhospitable place. But it has been a bona fide cash machine for the state of Texas and the University of Texas system, which encompasses 13 institutions and 240,000 students, and owns stakes in millions of acres of oilfields. It received $2.3 billion in oil-and-gas royalty income last year, virtually all of it from fracking. The University of Texas system’s endowment is now $57 billion.

“I think saner minds will prevail here,” says Harold Carter, a longtime private equity investor in Brigham’s ventures. “The landowners want to see the royalties, and the state can see the benefit that mining the sand provides. That lizard’s got plenty of land.”


By John Dobosz

Spanning West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the Permian Basin is the most prolific onshore source of domestically produced crude oil and natural gas in the United States. Occidental Petroleum (OXY) owns 2.9 million acres of land in the basin, edging out Chevron’s 2.2 million. Over the past five years, OXY revenue has grown 24% annually with help from the Permian. Earnings have grown at a 49% compound annual rate. OXY’s biggest shareholder is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which owns 25% of its outstanding stock and was busy buying more in the first and second quarter of 2023. Fellow billionaire Israel Englander of Millennium Management also loaded up on OXY earlier this year and now owns 1.9 million shares.

John Dobosz is editor of Forbes’ Billionaire Investor newsletter.


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