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France to end fossil fuel production
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Sept 6, 2017

France proposes ban on oil and gas exploration
Washington (UPI) Sep 6, 2017 - The French government said it was reviewing a bill that would put an end to new permits for oil and gas exploration in an effort to adopt a low-carbon economy.

Nicolas Hulot, the state minister for the environment, introduced a measure Wednesday that would end exploration and conventional and non-conventional resources like shale oil and natural gas. The measure would phase out oil and gas operations by 2040.

"With this bill, France assumes its role as a leader in the fight against climate change and encourages other countries to join it in its commitment, in the continuity of the Paris Agreement," said Nicolas Hulot at the end of the Council of Ministers.

If passed, France would be the first country to enact a ban on oil and gas operations.

The British and French governments both said they'd work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from their roads beginning in 2040. Outside the automotive industry, the move to alternative vehicles has prompted changes for energy companies.

Australian energy and mining company BHP Billiton said it was investing tens of millions of dollars on a nickel sulphate operation to get on the EV bandwagon. Identified once as a non-core asset, the company said it was shifting gears toward the production of sulphates in a multi-million dollar overhaul.

France has one of the least carbonized electricity sectors among members of the European Union. Most of its renewable power comes from hydroelectric resources.

French President Emmanuel Macron is a staunch supporter of a push for a low-carbon economy. As a candidate this year, he said the European doors were open to U.S. scientists as U.S. President Donald Trump moved his country closer to the fossil fuels industry and away from some of the trends embraced by his European counterparts on climate change.

The ban on exploration and production is largely symbolic. France relies heavily on imports to satisfy its energy demands as it has very few domestic oil and natural gas production options of its own.

The French government unveiled plans Wednesday to put an end to oil and gas production on its territory in a largely symbolic move it hopes will inspire bigger producing nations to copy.

Under a draft law approved by cabinet, no new permits will be granted to extract gas or oil and no existing licences will be renewed beyond 2040, when all production in mainland France and its overseas territories will stop.

The country is a minor player in the global hydrocarbons industry, extracting the equivalent of about 815,000 tonnes of oil per year -- an amount produced in a few hours by Saudi Arabia.

It imports about 99 percent of its oil and gas needs.

But 39-year-old centrist President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants France to take the lead as a major world economy switching away from fossil fuels -- and the nuclear industry -- into renewable sources.

It plans to stop the sale of diesel and petrol engine cars by 2040 as well.

"We are the first country to take this step (phasing out fossil fuel production)," said Nicolas Hulot, the high-profile environmentalist named by Macron as minister for ecological transition in May.

"I think other countries are going to follow our path," Hulot told AFP.

The minister later tweeted: "We are determined in the face of climate change at a time when disasters are hitting us hard."

"Today unfortunately reality confirms every day that climate disasters are proliferating," he said in a video unveiling the draft law. "In the United States they are talking about 100 billion dollars in damage for the last hurricane (Harvey)," he said.

The bill, which the government hopes will be passed by parliament before the end of the year, delivers on campaign pledges by Macron during his run for the presidency this year.

Above all it will affect companies searching for oil in the French territory of Guyana in South America, while also banning the extraction of shale gas by any means -- its extraction by fracking was banned in 2011.

The only exceptions to the new rules will be for the capturing of gas from mines, which is considered desirable for security reasons, and one project in Guyana run jointly by oil groups Total, Shell and Tullow Oil.

OPEC provides market assurances post-Harvey
Washington (UPI) Sep 5, 2017
Hurricane Harvey hit the United States after two years of oil sector declines and OPEC is ready to ensure the market is stable, its secretary general said. Parts of the U.S. oil and gas sector were sidelined by the impact of the first major hurricane to hit Texas in about a decade. In its latest update, the U.S. Department of Energy said eight refineries in the region were in the proces ... read more

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