Greenpeace activists in Germany protest troubled Uniper over Woodside gas support
SYDNEY, Aug 18 2022 - Overnight Greenpeace activists in Dusseldorf protested against German energy giant Uniper’s plans to buy gas from Woodside Energy’s controversial Scarborough project in Western Australia.
The protest, which saw activists playing recordings of whale songs and holding up signs reading “UNIPER: Choose whales not Woodside!”, took place on the day Uniper published its interim report detailing a 12 billion euro loss, shortly after receiving a 15 billion euro bailout from the German government.
Uniper is one of the few offtakers that Woodside has earmarked for gas from its Scarborough project. Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Clean Energy Transitions, Jess Panegyres, said that Uniper’s financial instability, and the increasing environmental pressure the company faces, should be a warning sign to Woodside’s investors.
“Woodside is fast becoming a toxic company to do business with. The environmental pressure faced by Uniper in Germany this week follows a series of Greenpeace protests against Woodside offtaker RWE and a pipeline shipment destined for the Scarborough gas project. Companies that do business with Woodside, and support its aggressive gas expansion plans, can expect to face similar pressure,” she said.
“Woodside is pushing ahead with the biggest new fossil fuel project in Australia, a project that also threatens important marine areas. The International Energy Agency and the United Nations have been clear that there is no room for new gas developments if the world is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and gas demand is set to shrink as the world shifts to renewables,”
“In addition to the Greenpeace actions, Uniper faces a litany of financial woes, posting multi-billion euro losses just weeks after being bailed out by the German government. This company is on shaky financial ground, which should raise alarm bells for Woodside’s investors as Uniper is one of the very few offtakers earmarked to purchase gas from Scarborough.”
Till Seidensticker, a marine expert from Greenpeace Germany described Uniper’s plans as “scandalous”.
“Uniper was recently bailed out by the German state to the tune of 18 billion euros, which effectively means that German taxpayer money is funding Uniper’s plan to endanger precious and vulnerable marine life off the coast of Western Australia,” he said.
“Woodside’s gas can only be delivered to Germany by 2026, so it doesn’t help us in the current supply crisis. Nevertheless, an important marine area will be destroyed for it.
“The German government now bears responsibility for Uniper and must use its influence to stop this dangerous project. Oceans need stronger protection, not further exploitation in pursuit of a quick buck.”
Woodside’s Burrup gas drilling project threatens whale and shark habitats and there is also an important breeding area for sea turtles. This marine area with coral reefs and seagrass beds has a unique biodiversity, but the planned gas drilling project may harm or kill a plethora of marine species.
Greenpeace Germany is demanding that Uniper pull out of gas drilling projects.
Download photos of the protest here
Uniper and RWE are the main customers for Woodside Energy Trading Singapore’s (subsidiary of Woodside Energy) LNG from the gas drilling project off the coast of Western Australia. Uniper plans to purchase two million tonnes of LNG per year from Woodside from 2026 onwards, according to the contracts. This quantity would only cover 11 days of Germany’s average gas consumption.
Uniper has reported large half-year losses. In addition to an existing nine billion euro line of credit from the state-owned Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the German state took a stake in Uniper in July and now holds around 30 percent of the company.
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