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Net Zero: IEA chief blames Russia for European energy crisis

Welcome to Net Zero, your daily industry brief on clean energy and Canadian-resource politics.

The Lead

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), accused Russia of orchestrating the energy crisis experienced across Europe. Birol said heightened geopolitical tensions have caused Russia to intentionally withhold up to a third of its gas exports. The record-high energy prices in Europe threaten to upend large parts of the European economy and plunge millions into a cost of living crisis over the next few months.

He also noted the historic low gas storage levels across Europe were largely due to Russia’s state-owned gas company, Gazprom, which has sent about 25 per cent less gas than usual to Europe over recent months despite a surge in demand after a pandemic-driven economic slump.

“We believe there are strong elements of tightness in the European gas market due to Russia’s behaviour,” Birol told reporters on Wednesday. “I would note that today’s low Russian gas flows to Europe coincide with heightened geopolitical tensions over Ukraine.” The Guardian has more details.

Internationally

New documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal that over 300,000 gallons of oil spilled from a pipeline in New Orleans last month. The spill contaminated soil and created a pool of diesel in an environmentally sensitive area a few hundred feet from the Mississippi River, but the full extent of the environmental damage is not yet known. The Hill has that story.

The environmental activist group Friends of the Earth, which recently won a landmark case forcing Shell to reduce its emissions levels, is targeting 30 major corporate emitters in a campaign launched on Thursday. Among the companies being targeted includes KLM, the Dutch arm of airline Air France, ABN Amro bank, and supermarket operator Ahold Delhaize. Reuters has more.

The Biden administration is set to hold the U.S. government’s biggest ever offshore wind auction next month for areas in waters off the coast of New York and New Jersey.

Still in the U.S., the American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil and gas lobbying group, is seeking recognition of reductions in methane emissions by oil and gas producers across the nation. Reuters also has that story.

On Thursday morning at 9:47 a.m., West Texas Intermediate was trading at US$82.62 and Brent Crude was going for US$84.82.

In Canada

Three north Baffin hunters and trappers associations are calling for a 10-year freeze on increased ore production at Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River mine. They also encouraged the Nunavut Impact Review Board to recommend against allowing the mining company’s expansion proposal. Nunatsiaq News has the latest.

Environmental groups in Newfoundland and Labrador are appealing a Federal Court ruling that they claim exempts future offshore oil and gas projects off the province’s coast from proper environmental scrutiny.

“This assessment failed to adequately scrutinize the cumulative effects of exploratory oil and gas drilling, leaving marine ecosystems off the eastern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the communities that depend on them, vulnerable to unchecked fossil fuel development,” Ecojustice lawyer Ian Miron said on Wednesday. The Chronicle Herald has more on that story.

Meanwhile, Teck Resources, a Vancouver-based mining company, announced it has received strike notice from the union representing workers at the company’s Highland Valley copper mine.

The company says the 1,048 workers covered by the notice would be entitled to begin job action when the 72-hour strike notice expires and 48 hours after the mediator reports to the Labour Relations Board. A round of mediated talks is scheduled for Friday. The Canadian Press has the details.

Finally, Seyi Smith, a two-time Canadian Olympian in bobsleigh, is running for election to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, where he hopes to lead Olympians in promoting sustainability and fighting climate change. You can find Smith’s interview with CBC Sports here.

Canadian Crude Index was trading at US$68.21 and Western Canadian Select was going for US$69.49 this morning at 9:48 a.m.

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