WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States Export-Import Bank is set to vote on Thursday regarding a $100 million loan for an oil and gas drilling venture in Bahrain, which poses a test to the U.S. commitment to curbing fossil fuel projects.

The project, spearheaded by Bapco Energies, entails the expansion of an oil and gas field in Bahrain, encompassing the creation of over 400 new oil wells and 30 gas wells.

Despite the Biden administration’s pledge to halt public financing for fossil fuel projects abroad, the board of directors at EXIM Bank is likely to greenlight the initiative. This move has drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers and environmental activists who assert that it contradicts the climate agenda.

Democratic lawmakers emphasized the importance of EXIM’s consideration of environmental impacts, urging the board to reconsider funding for oil and gas drilling in Bahrain.

EXIM, while aiming to align with the administration’s climate goals, adheres to a rule that prevents discrimination based solely on industry, sector, or business.

The United States, along with over 30 other nations, committed to cease public financing for overseas fossil fuel projects at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in 2021. However, since then, the U.S. export agencies have approved eight fossil fuel projects totaling over $2 billion, raising concerns among environmental groups.

EXIM’s potential support for fossil fuel ventures in Papua New Guinea and Guyana, including Exxon’s major oil development project, is also under scrutiny, with votes anticipated later this year.

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