Index for December 2022

Volume 21, Issue 12

  • (Oil Change International, Washington, 7 December 2022) A German government State Secretary has revealed a pipeline of fossil fuel projects that shows a lack of seriousness about keeping Germany’s climate promise. The Government stated that it “currently has ten individual applications for cover under review for the granting of an export credit guarantee for supplies and services to Brazil, Iraq, Uzbekistan, the Dominican Republic and Cuba with a total volume of around one billion euros, which are connected with fossil energy projects.” Despite climate rhetoric, Germany still funding more fossil fuels than renewable energy and provides more government-backed international finance for fossil fuels than Saudi Arabia or Russia. Regine Richter, Energy and Finance Campaigner at Urgewald, said: “The German government needs to understand that you can’t say you favour climate protection and at the same time support massive fossil fuel projects. While the German government is tight-lipped about KfW loan applications, the applications for export finance alone add up to more than €1 billion for fossil fuel projects. This must end if we are to stand a chance to stay within the 1.5°C temperature limit.”

  • (Fitch, Milan, 29 November 2022) Fitch Ratings has affirmed that SACE's shares were transferred back to the national government from Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA (BBB/Stable) in March 2022, changing SACE's mission from an unregulated export credit insurer to a government agency underwriting insurance policies backed by a state guarantee. The Ministry of Finance [now] retains governance rights over SACE and outlines operational features, according to which SACE operates on behalf of the national government.  Fitch expects insurance-related costs to increase in 2023 alongside the macroeconomic volatility triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war and rising commodities prices that could adversely affect Italian export and domestic activities in the short term. SACE's exposure to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is limited and was fully covered with EUR91 million provision as of June 2022. As we noted last month, the Italian government is considering support for international fossil fuel projects that would emit 3.5 times Italy’s annual emissions, despite major climate promises. Italy is also considering the nationalization of an oil refinery owned by Russian energy giant Lukoil as well as  providing additional guarantees by Italian export credit agency SACE for the purchase of oil outside Russia and selling the refinery to a third-party investor.

  • (Greenpeace, Toronto, 12 December 2022) Canada has joined the growing ranks of nations promising to end international financing of fossil fuels (though there are some worrisome exceptions). The Financial Post immediately warned that without taxpayer subsidies it would be more expensive for private companies to build new fossil fuel projects which… is the whole point of the exercise. The new policy applies across all federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations but will predominantly impact Export Development Canada (EDC), a Crown corporation with a long history of funnelling billions in support to the oil and gas industry. As of January 2023, EDC (and the rest) will have to stop funding (most) fossil fuel projects and redirect those resources to support the clean energy transition.

  • (Global Trade Review, London, 14 December 2022) Canada and New Zealand have mapped out how they will put into action pledges to scrap ECA support for fossil fuel projects, ahead of an end-of-year deadline. At last year’s Cop26 summit in Glasgow, thirty-nine countries vowed to end public finance backing for fossil fuels by the end of 2022, which theoretically bars ECAs and export finance institutions from providing fresh backing for such projects from January 1, 2023. Canada was the second-biggest public financier of fossil fuel projects in the G20 between 2019 and 2021. On the same day, EDC’s fellow ECA New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC) outlined a similar policy to cement its Cop26 commitment, including an end to support for fossil fuel exploration, extraction, transportation, storage and refining, as well as power plants and supporting infrastructure and services. Even for a party which is “in the fossil fuel energy sector” but carrying out an unrelated transaction, “applications may be considered only where that party has a documented and realistic transition plan consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement [on combating climate change],” the NZEC policy says. The release of NZEC’s policy means there are only five governments that are yet to outline how they will meet their commitments to axing public finance for fossil fuels by the end of this year, according to Oil Change International: Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. Of these, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed earlier this year to publicise their plans to wind down ECA support for fossil fuels as part of the Export Finance for Future (E3F) alliance, but so far have not.

  • (Oil Change International, Washington, 14 December 2022) In a landmark decision in September, the Federal Court of Australia ruled that Santos Ltd, one of the world’s top 20 largest oil and gas companies, would not be allowed to drill in the Barossa gas fields off the coast of northern Australia. The Court ruled that Santos had failed to consult Tiwi Traditional Owners. Santos appealed the decision, but this was in vain. Two weeks ago, the appeal was rejected, further solidifying legal victory for the Tiwi Islander Plaintiffs. The Barossa project alone included over $1 billion USD in public finance support from the Japanese and Korean governments’ export credit agencies (ECAs), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure). Santos and the Australian Government assured these ECAs that the project approvals were solid, even after Tiwi Island people had warned them about lack of free, prior and informed consent, and despite the fact that extraction from these wells would be completely at odds with Australia’s climate obligations.

  • (TXF, London, 30 November 2022) The evolving science of coal plant retirement financing has had a busy couple of weeks with the Asia Development Bank signing a 14 November memorandum of understanding re potential early retirement of the Cirebon Electric Power for unit 1 of the 1,660MW Cirebon coal-fired plant, using the ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM). The day after, on the sidelines of the same G20 summit where the Cirebon MOU was signed, the US, Indonesia and a raft of other developed countries launched the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), a $20 billion combination of grants, concessional loans, commercial loans, ECA guarantees, and private investment. The programme will cover a big expansion in renewables, and the retirement of coal capacity whose emissions cannot be rebated. Aside from the summit-friendly but content-light announcements, there was further progress on the first coal retirement financing in Asia for a 244MW Philippino coal plant.

  • (Reuters, Sydney. 6 December 2022) Papua New Guinea's state-owned Kumul Petroleum is in talks with Australia's export credit agency to help fund a $1.1-billion acquisition of a 5% stake in the PNG LNG project from Santos Ltd (STO.AX). Santos announced in September that Kumul had made a binding offer to buy a 5% stake in PNG LNG from the company for $1.1 billion, subject to the other joint venture partners, which include ExxonMobil Corp and Japan's JX Holdings Inc, waiving their pre-emptive rights to match the offer.

  • (TFI Global News, Noida Uttar Pradesh, 29 December 2023) German-African Business Association: Ever since the Russia-Ukraine war the importance of Africa has skyrocketed. Now every major power today wants to expand their footprint in the continent. Today there is a great surge of foreign interest in Africa. From the US, China, Russia to major European powers like France, UK and Germany, all want a decent share of influence in the African continent. However, are any of the powers actually interested in ensuring the well-being of Africa? The German-African Business Association says that it represents around 85% of German businesses active in Africa. It now wants the government to give greater support through improved conditions for export credit insurance and investment guarantees from the German government.

  • (Big News Network, Berlin, 29 December 2022) Germany announced that it is formally suspending export credits and investment guarantees for business in Iran, after the brutal crackdown on protests by authorities in Tehran. The instruments suspended are export credit guarantees, which protect German companies from losses due to unpaid exports, as well as investment guarantees, which aim to protect direct investments by German companies from political risk. These instruments for projects in Iran were suspended for decades until there was a "short phase of opening" from 2016, as a result of Iran's agreement with world powers, including Germany, on its nuclear program, the ministry said.

  • (Drill or Drop, London, 6 December 2022) Government approval of $1.5bn financing for a liquified natural gas project in Mozambique has been challenged at the Court of Appeal this morning (Tuesday 5 December 2022). A year ago, a case brought by Friends of the Earth ended in deadlock, when two High Court judges disagreed on the verdict. The challenge was dismissed so that it could be heard again in the appeal court. Friends of the Earth will argue at the new hearing that the financing, through the government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), was unlawful. It was permitted, the environmental organisation will say, after the project was incorrectly judged to be compatible with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Friends of the Earth has estimated that the facility would emit 4.5bn tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime – more than the combined annual emissions of the 27 EU countries. The government has until March 2023 to revise its net zero strategy after losing a challenge by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and the Good Law Project. The high court ruled that the government should outline exactly how the net zero policies will achieve emissions targets. A decision is due early in 2023.

  • (Paradise News, Calabar Nigeria, 10 December 2022) Czech state-owned ECA EGAP has obtained a CZK 2 billion (US$88.6M) loan from the Czech Republic’s COVID aid program for Czech steelmaker Liberty Ostrava, which is closely linked to Greensil, a company embroiled in corruption scandal. The Czech government’s COVID-19 aid to large polluters like Liberty Steel Ostrava, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, continues to be a cause for concern.The case is another illustration of the shortage of transparency and accountability in export credit agencies (ECAs). The COVID Plus program in the Czech Republic will provide hundreds of billions of dollars to large exporters, but there is no oversight or regulation. It is the job of the state to explain which projects it backs and give reasons for doing so, but EGAP remains mum on its questionable investments.

  • (Odessa Journal, Odessa, 13 December 2022) French business is interested in investing in Ukraine and is ready to participate in its early reconstruction announced First Vice Prime Minister – Minister of Economy of Ukraine, Yuliya Svyridenko, during a live broadcast from Paris on the air of the National Telethon. "We discussed what tools we, as the Government, can use to ensure that French business enters the Ukrainian market and develops Ukraine even before our victory... We offer export credit agencies that provide insurance services for export operations to expand their services to insurance of investment activities and to insure their companies entering Ukraine. We have a list of investment projects and an understanding of their prioritization, and from their side, we have financing and companies ready to invest in Ukraine. And for us, the issue of military risk insurance is important. To help attract investments without waiting for the end of the war. War is not an obstacle to investment. This is a difficult period for us, but we will get through it,” Yulia Svyridenko assured.

  • (Offshore Energy Biz, Schiedam, 15 December 2022) Out of the 28 financial institutions reporting their emissions data in the third edition of the Poseidon Principles Annual Disclosure Report 2022, seven banks are aligned with the IMO’s ambition of halving shipping’s GHG emissions by 2050. The Poseidon Principles are a global framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of financial institutions’ shipping portfolios pioneered in 2019 by Citi, Societe Generale, and DNB with the support of the Global Maritime Forum. The voluntary regulatory framework aims to accelerate the implementation of the sector’s green agenda while charting a path forward for banks to decarbonize their own portfolios as well.

  • (Institute of Export and International Trade, London, 22 December 2022) In its end of 2022 report, the IEIT notes that UK Export Finance (UKEF) is backing 80% (£500m) of a loan by 12 banks that will support the research, development and export of the next range of battery-powered Range Rovers. Jaguar Land Rover is one of the UK’s largest exporters and employs more than 28,000 staff in the UK. In 2020-21, the company sold 439,588 vehicles in 127 countries, with about 80% of its sales to export markets outside the UK. UKEF backing worth £600 million will also help Ford to expand its electric vehicle production line.

  • (Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg, 1 December 2022) African countries’ borders are becoming more porous, allowing for greater movement of goods and services via the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, but by its nature this comes with a lot of risk. This is where export insurance comes in: to protect an exporter against a foreign buyer’s failure to pay for goods or services for political or commercial reasons. South African companies can count themselves lucky to have export insurance available to them through the Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC), which is an official export credit agency, wholly owned by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. The AfCFTA is the perfect platform for cross-border trade and a number of opportunities exist. Substantial reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers that will result from the implementation of AfCFTA will indeed increase intra-Africa trade and promote regional economic development. It is unacceptable that Africa, the second largest continental landmass after Asia, with all the resources, accounts for just 4.4% of world trade.

  • (Xinhua, Beijing, 26 December 2022) China's only policy-oriented insurer specializing in export credit insurance reported steady business growth in the first 11 months of 2022. The China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation, or SINOSURE, served about 179,000 clients in the January-November period, an increase of 14% year on year. During the period, the company handled underwriting for insured businesses worth a total of US$817.93 billion, up 8.6% year on year. SINOSURE is a state-funded and policy-oriented insurance company that promotes China's foreign economic and trade development and cooperation. It was officially launched and put into operation in 2001, and its service network now covers the whole country