Gaslight Award

Big Polluters are full of tricks and deception. One of their most well greased strategies, is to present gas as a ‘bridge fuel’. 

Our Gaslight Award recognises the most committed peddlers of this wheeze.

Our Nominees

Peel Ports

Peel Ports are the very shadowy company looking to operate the Liquified Natural Gas Plant in Hunterston, Largs.  Their proposed Hunterston Parc site – also next to the ailing Hunterston Nuclear Power station – is due to be massively redeveloped over the next 20 years, providing a hub for a host of energy intensive activities that violate Scotland’s climate commitments.

While their gas operations are enough to cause a stink – and get them a nomination to our award – Peel Ports operate a broad range of shadow companies – 342 registered and active companies and subsidiaries, to be precise. Indeed, according to Guy Shrubsole, author of Who Owns England?, ‘Peel Holdings operates behind the scenes, quietly acquiring land and real estate, cutting billion pound deals and influencing numerous planning decisions’. Can these same quotes be applied to their activities in Scotland? As argued by SANE Collective, the answer is a resounding yes. They own a 25% stake in Intu, operators of the (in administration) Braehead Shopping Centre; they built the port for INEOS’s Dragon Ships, which ship in fracked gas from Pennsylvania, despite Scotland’s moratorium on fracking; and no less an authority than our own Glasgow City Council have given them permission to build a £100 million shopping district on the Clydeside. Unravelling Peel Ports shadowy influence, is like peeling a particularly rancid onion, but as a consolation their efforts have made them a strong contender for our ‘Gaslight’ Award.

Teekay Shipping

You would be forgiven for never having heard of Teekay Shipping. You would also be forgiven for having missed their glitzy PR output. But in the world of oil and gas shipping, Teekay are serious players. And they use Glasgow as one of their most important bases of operation. According to industry magazine Tanker Operator (you would also be forgiven for having not read this), Teekay Shipping are the world’s 8th biggest oil and gas shipping firm, and their Glasgow base also happens to be next door to venue where the 2021’s UN Conference of Parties will be held! 

Teekay Shipping’s Glasgow office specialises in coordinating the shipping of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), which is a process whereby gas is cooled down to a liquified temperature, reducing its volume, which allows greater sums to be transported via ships. LNG is an important battle point for climate justice, with industry advocates oxymoronically branding it as a ‘clean’ fossil fuel. But rather than supplanting fossil fuels, LNG is a mere supplement, with LNG helping facilitate a rise in emissions. Teekay Shipping transport LNG from some of the most repressive and exploited regions of the world, including: Angola, the Russian Arctic, and West Papua. Whilst Teekay use their Glasgow base to coordinate ships, none of their ships were built in Glasgow. Indeed, it will probably come as no surprise that Teekay are headquartered in Bermuda, and the vast majority of their LNG ships are registered in the Bahamas. So whilst they operate out of Glasgow, we presume very little of their ill-gotten profits stay here. Teekay Shipping are a key part of the infrastructure responsible for extending the life of fossil fuel extraction, and for that reason we nominate them for our ‘Gaslight’ Award.

SSE

SSE are one of the UK’s “Big Six” energy providers, listed on the FTSE 100 and a massive polluter.

Indeed, they recently knocked INEOS off the top of Scotland’s CO2 emissions list, as their gas-fired power plant in Peterhead doubled its emissions over the course of a year, leaping by a million tonnes to 1.9m tonnes. This also had the effect of raising climate pollution from Scottish businesses by 3 percent.

SSE Enterprise Utilities operates over 180,000 gas connections throughout the UK with a further 40,000 awaiting connection. 

In the spirit of placation, the company’s website talks about it’s ‘Sustainability Goals’ but there is no mention of them having a plan to wind down their Peterhead gas plant nor their other two gas-fired power stations at Medway, Kent (700MW) and Keadby, North Lincolnshire (735MW). The three 277 MWe V94.3A (now called SGT5-4000F) Siemens gas turbines provide a CCGT-type system of power generation, with three Doosan Babcock heat recovery steam generators providing steam to one (older) steam turbine

All in all, SSE are exceptionally gassy, which is why they are nominated for our Gaslight Award.

INEOS

INEOS is a multinational chemicals company owned by infamous tax dodger Jim Ratcliffe: a prominent Brexiteer and UK’s 5th richest person, living the wine-swilling life in Monaco. It also happens to be Scotland’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, with The Ferret highlighting a SEPA report, which stated that INEOS’s ‘Petroineos oil refinery at Grangemouth emitted ‘1.6 million tonnes of the gas’. In only five years, INEOS has become a very big player in the exploitation of Oil and Gas reserves in the North Sea. Their purchase of Danish company Dong Energy’s entire North Sea Operations in 2017, at a value of $1 billion dollars, included ownership of ‘Ormen Lange, the second largest gas field in Norwegian waters, Laggan-Tormore, a new gas field west of Shetland, and oil and gas hubs in Denmark’. On sealing the deal, Henrik Poulsen, CEO of DONG Energy, said ‘We have been actively working to get the best transaction by selling the business as a whole to ensure its long-term development and, with INEOS, we have obtained just that.’ A rather cynical statement for a company that touts its green credentials no? 

INEOS are ‘commitment to our Oil & Gas business and supports the Government’s strategy to maximise economic recovery of gas from the North Sea’. Indeed, in 2018 they sought to extend the lifespan of their oil and gas investments in the North Sea as far as possible, including a $80m investment into a new pipeline and sub-sea equipment for the Clipper South field in the Southern North Sea. Furthermore, in 2019 as reported in Energy Voice, ‘Ineos announced it was investing £500 million to extend the life of the Forties Pipeline System by ‘at least 20 years’ in a move hailed by industry leaders as a show of faith in the North Sea’s future.

Shell

Maybe we should sympathise with a company that says they have “no choice” but to invest in oil and gas?

Only joking.

Royal Dutch Shell weighs in at number seven on the list of historical carbon emissions, possessing a rap sheet any evil overlord would be proud of. This is despite condescending PR campaigns designed to convince you otherwise. They are currently being sued by FoE Netherlands for failing to match the Paris agreement. Perhaps this is all unsurprising behaviour from a company that knowingly suppressed knowledge of climate breakdown.

In Scotland, their activities extend to three places in particular: the Mossmorran facility in Fife, the North Sea and the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Peterhead. 

Mossmorran is co-operated by one of the most villainous duos in existence: Shell and ExxonMobil. Shell operates the Natural Gas Liquid Plant within the facility, separating a mix of gas liquids, received from Peterhead, before shipping them off to international markets for products such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, paints and detergents.

The plant, and its infamous flare, has caused plenty of concern and is subject of a concerted campaign by the Mossmorran Action Group. Residents have reported a host of negative impacts from the plant, such as headaches, breathing difficulties, anxiety and sleep disturbance, to name a few. The site alone emitted a staggering 892,964 tonnes of CO2 in 2018, making it the 3rd largest emitter in Scotland. This plant was originally designed to produce 500,000 tonnes of ethylene every year but now produces 830,000 tonnes annually, raising safety concerns.  In 2001, then shadow health minister Nicola Sturgeon promised a public probe into Mossmorran. No probe has occurred. Mossmorran was also chosen as the target for Climate Camp Scotland before the camp was postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19.

Shell operates the Natural Gas Liquid Plant within the facility, separating a mix of gas liquids, received from Peterhead near Aberdeen, before shipping them off to international markets. They were fined £40,000 by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) after a “metering error” at the plant underestimated the amount of propane gas emitted to the environment in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In May 2020 SEPA confirmed that it was seeking a prosecution following 6 days of flaring at the site. October this year saw another bout of flaring, estimated to have emitted up to 13,800 tonnes of CO2.

Few, if any, can challenge Shell for our Gaslight Award.

ExxonMobil

So where do we start with ExxonMobil, one of the most obviously abominable companies in the world?

Let’s start in Scotland and focus first on the Mossmorran facility in Fife, which ExxonMobil operates in collaboration with Shell. Exxon are responsible for one part of the facility – The Fife Ethylene Plant – which over 2018 stood as the 3rd largest industrial emitter in Scotland, emitting a staggering 892,964 tons of carbon dioxide. 

Now, the ExxonMobil operated plant is temporarily closed following what appear to be two explosions in their boilers, which for the umpteenth time, inflicted the infamous Mossmorran flare upon the community. The plant has released into the community a list of pollutants longer than your arm, leading to reports of numerous ill-health effects.

Any serious regulatory response – or even investigation into these reported health effects – has not been forthcoming from the Scottish Government. The pressure on Mossmorran will continue from the irrepressible Mossmorran Action Group and from Climate Camp Scotland, which chose Mossmorran as their 2020 target, before the camp was delayed due to Coronavirus.

Few are as deserving of our Gaslight Award as Exxonmobil.

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