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US backs Indonesian oil refinery regardless of pledge to finish fossil gas finance



The US has been accused of “breaking” a key local weather financing dedication by approving nearly $100m in assist for an abroad fossil gas challenge

The US export credit score company has authorized a mortgage price almost $100 million for the growth of an oil refining facility in Indonesia, regardless of a promise to finish public finance for abroad fossil gas initiatives.

Monetary assist from the Export-Import Financial institution (Ex-Im) will assist a state-controlled plant on the island of Borneo flip 40% extra oil into merchandise like jet gas and diesel.

In a closed door assembly final Thursday, Ex-Im’s board authorized $99.7 million in assist for the Balikpapan oil refinery run by Indonesia’s nationwide oil firm Pertamina. Ex-Im mentioned the mortgage would allow an growth of the ability, alongside gas effectivity and security upgrades.

‘Untenable’ choice

However the plan has been criticised for seeming to contradict a local weather finance dedication.

At Cop26, the US and 19 different nations signed the Glasgow Assertion pledging to finish new direct public finance for abroad fossil gas initiatives by the top of 2022.

Since then the US has been accused of backsliding on its promise. In contrast to different signatories, the White Home has not launched publicly any coverage explaining how the pledge could be applied.

Shruti Shukla from advocacy group the Pure Sources Protection Council (NRDC) mentioned the dearth of transparency is permitting for “untenable” selections to slide via.

“To spend the limited public finance available on the upgrade of an oil refinery is not the best use of those resources which should go towards clean energy alternatives,” she mentioned.

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Adam McGibbon, a campaigner at Oil Change Worldwide, mentioned president Joe Biden dangers not being trusted to maintain local weather guarantees by “breaking” the Glasgow pledge.

A senior Ex-Im official informed Local weather House Information that the company is making an attempt to align with the Biden administration’s local weather agenda whereas nonetheless respecting its statutory limitations, together with the prohibition in opposition to discrimination based mostly solely on trade, sector or enterprise.

Biden’s appointees

Ex-Im is the official export credit score company of the US. It operates as an impartial authority however its board members are appointed by the US president and confirmed by the Senate.

The sitting president, Reta Jo-Lewis, was picked by Biden in February 2022. The present authorities chosen three of the board’s members, whereas the opposite two had been appointed by Donald Trump.

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Like different nations’ export credit score companies, Ex-Im is influential in directing funding in direction of particular sectors by providing exporters government-backed loans, ensures or insurance coverage. This limits the danger taken by firms promoting companies and items in nations or industries thought-about excessive danger.

Manufacturing enhance

The brand new mortgage will enable the Balikpapan refinery to extend its capability by almost 40%, with the manufacturing of as much as 360 million barrels of oil per day.

Based on Ex-Im, the challenge will unleash 2.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions yearly. That’s as a lot because the annual carbon footprint of Iceland or Guyana.

A petroleum station operated by oil and fuel firm Pertamina in Indonesia. Picture: tian yake/Flickr

Pertamina claims the challenge “not only aims to increase the refinery capacity but also realises a green refinery”. It’s because the ability plans to modify to the manufacturing of a extra energy-efficient sort of gasoline.

Indonesia depends totally on oil and coal for its power provide. In November 2022, the US and Japan led a bunch of wealthy nations and banks in pledging $20 billion to hurry up the nation’s transition from coal to wash power. However the plan has no provisions for phasing out different fossil fuels.

Assist for US jobs

Ex-Im justified its backing of the challenge by claiming it will enable Indonesia to cut back its reliance on imported fossil fuels and mentioned it will assist a whole bunch of jobs for US producers.

The challenge beforehand acquired a lot better assist from the South Korean export credit score company, which dedicated $1.19 billion to finance the oil refinery growth in December 2022. Korea Eximbank mentioned its assist helped Korean engineering big Hyundai win a development contract on the challenge.

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In contrast to the US, nonetheless, South Korea didn’t signal the general public finance pledge at Cop26 in Glasgow.

Analysts and campaigners informed Local weather House Information that the Indonesian oil refinery growth falls throughout the scope of the Glasgow settlement to finish public subsidies for fossil fuels initiatives abroad.

The UK stopped direct authorities assist for the fossil gas power sector abroad in March 2021. Its steerage explicitly contains oil refining inside its scope. France additionally put an finish to offering public finance to worldwide fossil gas initiatives, together with oil refining, final November.

Pledge backsliding

The US – along with Germany – has not but revealed its public finance insurance policies to fulfill the Glasgow settlement, in response to a latest report by Oil Change Worldwide.

Ex-Im’s assist for the oil refinery seems to contradict a declare made final month by G7 local weather ministers that public assist for unabated fossil gas power abroad had led to 2022.

The NRDC’s Shukla mentioned any extra financing of fossil gas initiatives would ship the improper message forward of Cop28. “We hope there are no more similar projects that slip through.”

Oil and fuel initiatives accounted for round 27% of Ex-Im’s portfolio within the fiscal 12 months ending in September 2022, rising by one share level in comparison with the earlier interval. The company is presently contemplating financing different fossil gas initiatives, together with an oil and fuel subject in Bahrain.

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