Australian new environment agency to speed up approvals

  • Spanish Market: Coal, Crude oil, Metals, Natural gas
  • 16/04/24

The Australian federal government announced today it will introduce new legislation in the coming weeks to implement the second stage of its Nature Positive Plan, which includes setting up a national environment protection agency to speed up approval decisions.

The planned Environment Protection Australia (EPA) will initially operate within the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water until it transitions to become an independent statutory agency, with "strong new powers and penalties" to better enforce federal laws, the government said on 16 April.

The EPA chief will be an independent statutory appointment, similar to the Australian federal police commissioner, so that "no government can interfere" with the new agency's enforcement work. The agency will be able to audit businesses to ensure they are compliant with environment approval conditions and issue environment protection orders to anyone breaking the law. Penalties will be increased, with courts able to impose fines of up to A$780mn ($504mn) or jail terms for up to seven years in cases of extremely serious intentional breaches of federal environment law.

EPA will also be tasked with speeding up development decisions, including project assessments in areas such as renewable energy and critical minerals. Almost A$100mn will be allocated to optimise the approval processes, with its budget directed to support staff to assess project proposals and help businesses comply with the law.

A new independent body Environment Information Australia (EIA) will also be created to provide environmental data to the government and the public through a public website. EIA will need to develop an online database giving businesses quicker access to data and helping EPA to make faster decisions. It will also need to publish state of environment reports every two years.

The government said that an audit ordered by environment minister Tanya Plibersek last year found that around one in seven developments could be in breach of their offset conditions, when a business had not properly compensated for the impact a development was having on the environment, highlighting "the need to urgently strengthen enforcement".

The planned new legislation is part of the federal government's reform of Australia's environmental laws including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Resource project decisions are currently made by the environment minister, with the move to an independent agency will removing any perception of political interference in such decisions, the government said when it first announced the reforms in late 2022.

The first stage of the reform was completed late last year with new laws passed to create the Nature Repair Market, with further stages expected to be implemented in the future, the government said.

Tight timing

Resources industry body the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CMEWA) welcomed the announcement that the federal government will take a "staged approach" to the implementation of the reforms but noted the timing of EPA's implementation was "tight".

"We continue to hold reservations about the proposed decision-making model and will continue to advocate for a model that balances ecologically sustainable development considerations and includes the [environment] minister as the decision maker," CMEWA chief executive Rebecca Tomkinson said.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) said that it had been advocating for the creation of EIA, whose future collated data "will provide greater certainty and reduced costs for both government and project proponents", which "may shave years off project development". But it was cautious about potential "unintended consequences" stemming from more bureaucracy.

"Australia has one of the most comprehensive environmental approvals processes in the world and the MCA has been clear about the significant risks of duplicative, complex and uncertain approvals processes pose to the minerals sector, the broader economy and the environment if we do not get this right," it warned.


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27/05/24

Indonesian coal producer Indika eyes biomass market

Indonesian coal producer Indika eyes biomass market

Singapore, 27 May (Argus) — Indonesian coal producer Indika Energy is venturing into biomass, as it diversifies into more environmentally-friendly businesses and reduces its reliance on conventional fuel revenues. Indika, which produced 30.1mn t of coal in 2023 through its subsidiary Kideco, last year completed construction of a wood pellet factory in Paser, east Kalimantan, the company said in its 2023 sustainability report. The biomass business is part of its subsidiary Indika Nature that is preparing its first batch of production. It is aiming to produce 150,000 t/yr wood pellets by 2025. These will have an average calorific value of 4,200-4,750 kcal/kg that is suitable for biomass-based power plants or for co-firing in a thermal power plant. It is planning to export the pellets to Japan. [Japan imported 531,500t of wood pellets in March](https://direct.argusmedia.com/newsandanalysis/article/2562604), up by 47pc from a year earlier, according to preliminary data released by the country's finance ministry on 26 April. This was also higher by 9pc from February. Imports from Indonesia rise to 59,353t in March, more than a fivefold increase from 10,796t a year earlier. This exceeded the previous record high of 35,516t in January. Indika will become the first biomass company in Indonesia with a comprehensive value chain, it added. Indika Nature cultivates a commercial forest in east Kalimantan that provides biomass for carbon-neutral energy generation. It is aiming to cultivate this year 7,500 hectares of calliandra, a woody plant that is a source of biomass. The group's commodity trading arm also started trading of palm kernel shells, a by-product of palm oil production that is used as a fuel in biomass power plants. Its customers included trading firms in Indonesia, Japan and Portugal. Indika Energy has set a target for 50pc of its revenues to come from its non-coal business by 2025, as a part of its long-term goal to entirely transition away from coal and expand its presence in renewables and the non-energy space. It has been reducing its presence in coal-related businesses, while becoming more involved in electric mobility, gold mining and digital technologies. It decided to sell a 100pc stake last year in its Mutu coal mining unit to domestic firm Petrindo Jaya Kreasi. Indika earned almost 87pc of its $3.02bn revenues in 2023 from coal compared with nearly 89pc in 2022. By Ajay Modi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Chinese EV producers step up solid-state battery plans


27/05/24
27/05/24

Chinese EV producers step up solid-state battery plans

Beijing, 27 May (Argus) — Major Chinese auto manufacturers aim to launch mass production of solid-state batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) in the coming years. State-owned SAIC plans to deploy full solid-state batteries in its own EV brands from 2025 and start mass production in 2026. The battery will have an energy density of over 400Wh/kg. This can support at least 1,000km of driving range, according to industry forecasts. SAIC produced nearly 290,000 new energy vehicles during January-April, accounting for 22pc of its total vehicle production, up by 32pc from a year earlier. It is also China's largest EV exporter. GAC Group has also outlined a plan to deploy full solid-state batteries with its Hyber EV brand in 2026. The battery has an energy density of 400Wh/kg that can support more than 1,000km of driving range. Domestic EV producer Nio in last June tested a solid-state battery with a 360Wh/kg energy density and a 1,044km driving range. IM Motors, in which SAIC holds a stake, in April unveiled a plan to launch its IM L6 EV model with an ultra-fast charging solid-state battery with 130kWh of power and support up to 1,000km of driving range with a 900V ultra-fast charging capacity. Chinese EV and battery manufacturers have accelerated their development of solid-state batteries in an effort to make up for the shortcomings of dominant ternary and lithium iron phosphate batteries, such as erratic safety performance or limited driving range. Solid-state batteries with a longer life, smaller size and safer performance are considered the main development direction for the next generation of power batteries in a rapidly developing global EV industry. But there are several challenges restricting mass production of solid-state batteries, particularly significantly higher manufacturing costs, which could complicate Chinese EV manufacturers' production targets. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Q&A: Oman Shell to balance upstream with renewables


24/05/24
24/05/24

Q&A: Oman Shell to balance upstream with renewables

Dubai, 24 May (Argus) — Shell has been in Oman for decades now and had a front row seat to its energy evolution from primarily an oil producing nation to now a very gas-rich and gas-leaning hydrocarbons producer. Argus spoke to Oman Shell's country chairman Walid Hadi about the company's energy strategy in the sultanate. Edited highlights follow: How would you characterize Oman's energy sector today, and where do new energies fit into that? Oman is one of the countries where there is quite a bit of overlap between how we see the energy transition and how the country sees it. Oman is clear that hydrocarbons will continue to play a role in its energy system for a long period of time. But it is also looking to decrease the carbon intensity to the most extent which is viable. We need to work on creating new energy systems or new components of energy system like hydrogen and EV charging to facilitate that. It is what we would like to call a 'just transition' because you think about it from macroeconomic perspective of the country and its economic health. Shell is involved across the energy spectrum in Oman – from upstream gas to alternative, clean energies. What is Shell's overall strategy for the country? In Oman, our strategic foundation has three main pillars. The first is around oil and liquids and our ambition is to sustain oil and liquids production. At the same time, we aim to significantly reduce carbon intensity from the oil production coming from PDO. The second strategic pillar is gas, and our ambition here is to grow the amount of gas we are producing in Oman and also to help Oman grow its LNG export capabilities. The more committed we are in unlocking the gas reserves in the country, the more we can support Oman's growth, diversification, and the resilience of its economy through investments and LNG revenue. Gas also offers a very logical and nice link into blue and green hydrogen, whether in sequence or as a stepping stone to scale the hydrogen economy in the country. The last strategic pillar is to establish low-carbon value chains, predominantly centered around hydrogen, more likely blue hydrogen in the short term and very likely material green in the long term, which is subject to regulations and markets developing. How would you view Oman's potential to be a major exporter of green hydrogen? When examining the foundational aspects of green hydrogen manufacturing, such as the quality of solar and wind resources and their onshore complementarity, Oman emerges as a highly competitive country in terms of its capabilities. But where we are in technology and where we are in global markets and on policy frameworks — the demand centers for green hydrogen are maturing but not yet matured. I think there will be a period of discovery for green hydrogen globally, not just for Oman, in the way LNG started 20-30 years ago. When it does, Oman will be well-positioned to play global role in the global hydrogen economy. But the question is, how much time it is going to take us and what kind of multi-collaboration needs to be in place to enable that? The realisation of this potential hinges on several factors: the policies of the Omani government, its bilateral ties with Japan, Korea, and the EU, and the technological advancements within the industry. Shell has also been looking at developing CCUS opportunities in the country. How big a role can CCUS play in the region's energy transition? CCUS is going to be an important tool in decarbonising the global energy system. We have several projects globally that we are pursuing for own scope 1, scope 2 emissions reductions, as well as to enable scope 3 emissions with the customers and partners In Oman, we are pursuing a blue hydrogen project where CCUS is a clear component. This initiative serves as a demonstrative case, helping us gauge the country's potential for CCUS implementation. We are using that as a proof point to understand the potential for CCUS in the country. At this stage, it's too early to gauge the scale of CCUS adoption in Oman or our specific role within it. However, we are among the pioneers in establishing the initial proof point through our Blue Hydrogen initiative. You were able to kick off production in block 10 in just over a year after signing the agreement. How are things progressing there? We have started producing at the plateau levels that we agreed with the government, which is just above 500mn ft³/d. Block 10 gas is sold to the government, through the government-owned Integrated Gas Company (IGC), which so far has been the entity that purchases gas from various operators in Oman like us, Shell. IGC then allocates that gas on a certain policy and value criteria across different sectors. We will require new gas if we are going to expand LNG in Oman. There is active gas exploration happening there in Block 10. We know there is more potential in the block. We still don't know at what scale it can be produce gas or the reservoir's characteristics. But blocks 10 and 11 are a combination of undiscovered and discovered resources. We are aiming to significantly increase gas production through a substantial boost. However, the exact scale and timing of this expansion will only be discernible upon the conclusion of our two-year exploration campaign in the block. We expect to understand the full growth potential by around mid to late 2025. Do you have any updates on block 11? Has exploration work there begun? We did have a material gas discovery which is being appraised this year, but it is a bit too early to draw conclusions at this stage. So, after the appraisal campaign is completed, we will be able to talk more confidently about the production potential. Exploration is a very uncertain business. You must go after a lot of things and only a few will end up working. We have a very aggressive exploration campaign at the moment. We also expect by the end of 2025, we would be in a much better position to determine the next wave of growth and where it is going to come from. Shell is set to become the largest off taker from Oman LNG, how do you view the LNG markets this year and next? As a company, we are convinced, that the demand for LNG will grow and it needs to grow if the world is going to achieve the energy transition Gas must play a role, it has to play a bigger role globally over the time, mainly to replace coal in power generation and given its higher efficiency and lower carbon intensity fuel in the energy mix. While Oman may not be the largest LNG exporter globally or hold the most significant gas reserves, it is a niche player in the gas sector with a sophisticated and high-quality gas infrastructure. Oman's resource base remains robust, driving ongoing exploration and investment efforts. This growth trajectory includes catering to domestic needs and servicing industrial hubs like Duqm and Sohar, alongside allocating resources for export purpose. We have the ambition to grow gas for domestic purpose and for gas for eventual exports Have you identified any international markets to export LNG? We have been historically and predominantly focused on east and we continue to see east as core LNG market with focus on Japan, Korea, and China. Europe has also emerged on the back of the Ukraine-Russia crisis as growing demand center for LNG. Over time we might focus on different markets to a certain extent. It will be driven on maximising value for the country. By Rithika Krishna Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Indonesia plans 15mn electric vehicles on roads by 2030


24/05/24
24/05/24

Indonesia plans 15mn electric vehicles on roads by 2030

London, 24 May (Argus) — The Indonesian government aims to have 2mn four-wheeled electric vehicles (EVs) and 13mn two-wheeled EVs on its roads by 2030, to cut emissions and save energy. This will bring about energy savings of 29.79mn bl of oil equivalent (boe) and cut exhaust emissions by 7.23mn t of CO2 in 2030, according to special staff to the minister of energy and mineral resources (ESDM) Agus Tjahjana. Indonesia's transport sector makes up around a third of the country's energy consumption and the 11mn cars on Indonesian roads produce more than 35mn t/yr of CO2, while trucks emit more than 50mn t/yr, according to ESDM secretary general Dadan Kusdiana. The country's vehicle fleet is likely to grow in coming years because of its economic development, so decarbonising the transport sector is critical to achieving net zero emissions by 2060, said the ESDM. Greater electrification of transport will also allow Indonesia to reduce its fossil fuel imports. Indonesia is keen to develop the EV battery supply chain from upstream to downstream, in view of its large nickel resources that can support the development of the industry, said Agus. Indonesia currently has nine facilities processing nickel ore into nickel and cobalt sulphate, which is one of the materials used in making EV batteries. Out of these, four are already operational while three are in the construction stage, and the remaining two are still undergoing feasibility studies. The next step is to promote the manufacture of battery precursors, cathodes, battery cells and batteries, considering that the electric charging and battery recycling industries already exist, said Agus. But there is still a large price gap between EVs and conventional vehicles, said Dadan. The Indonesian government is hence providing tax incentives and subsidies for electric cars, hybrid cars and electric motorbikes to cover this gap. "Indonesia has prepared $455mn to subsidise the sale of electric motorbikes," said Dadan, adding that the subsidy covers the sale of 800,000 new electric motorbikes and the conversion of 200,000 combustion engine motorbikes. The government estimates that 32,000 charging stations will be needed to meet demand by 2030. The total number of charging stations available was 1,566 as of April, said Agus, adding that the government aims to add up to 48,118 charging stations by 2030. The ESDM has just approved 204 nickel mining work plans for exploration and production. The country produced 175.6mn t of nickel ore output in 2023. By Prethika Nair Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Global AI smartphone shipments to boost Co, Li demand


24/05/24
24/05/24

Global AI smartphone shipments to boost Co, Li demand

Beijing, 24 May (Argus) — Global shipments of artificial intelligence (AI) smartphones will more than double this year, according to US firm International Data Corporation (IDC), in a potential boost to demand for battery metals such as cobalt and lithium. IDC forecasts that shipments of next-generation AI smartphones will hit 170mn units this year, more than double last year's level, to account for almost 15pc of total smartphone shipments. Cobalt and lithium are used in the production of lithium-ion battery cathodes for smartphones. "This AI development, if it proves to be enough revolutionary, is likely to encourage people to change their phones earlier and then bolster cobalt and lithium demand," a China-based market participant said. About 30pc of cobalt and 7pc of global lithium production is consumed in the consumer electronics industry. Some phone manufacturers have released or outlined plans to release AI smartphones in the future. Chinese phone company Meizu on 16 May released its FlymeAIOS operating system and Meizu 21 Note phone, which provide generative AI capabilities. South Korea's Samsung has deployed Google's generative AI technology Gemini Nano in its Galaxy S24 series smartphones, which were released early this year. Other Chinese phone manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Huawei have also developed phones that run on-device AI. Shipments of AI smartphones are expected to rise to 550mn units globally in 2027, making up more than 40pc of total phone shipments, according to industry estimates. Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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