Probe after Gorgon releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas
Emma Young10 May 2018 — 1:29pm
The Gorgon Gas project off WA’s north-west coast has released millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere instead of injecting it underground as environmental approvals required, because of technical problems with its gas injection system.
The conditions stated that Chevron had to “implement all practicable means” to reinject all carbon dioxide removed during gas processing into deep aquifers below the island.
The Chevron-operated Gorgon Project. off WA’s coast.
The minimum requirement was 80 percent, calculated on a five-year rolling average. If the amount fell significantly below 80 per cent Chevron had to report this and take steps to “offset” these emissions.
The Barrow Island operation had still not yet injected any carbon dioxide underground, West Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson confirmed in Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question from Greens MP Robin Chapple.
He could not confirm the total carbon dioxide that had instead been released into the atmosphere.
He had asked the WA Environmental Protection Authority to inquire, and clarify the start date of the injection system.
Gas has been flowing from Barrow Island for around 18 months – since December 2016.
Chevron estimated in 2015 that the plant would produce more than 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
But Chevron has advised government regulators that problems with the $2.5 billion injection system meant carbon dioxide would not be reinjected any earlier than the December quarter of 2018.
A spokeswoman said Chevron welcomed the Minister’s request to “clarify” the start date on the environmental conditions but did not respond to a question on how much carbon dioxide had been released.
“Our focus is on the safe commissioning and start-up of the Carbon Dioxide Injection Project and achieving a high percentage of injection over the 40-year life of the Gorgon Project,” she said
“We have been keeping the relevant government agencies informed as to the progress of the commissioning of the Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection Project.”
The gas export hub at Barrow Island, of northern Western Australia.
“Not one tonne of reservoir CO2 removed in gas processing has been injected underground. Industry members are not expecting improvement on this any time soon,” Mr Chapple said.
When Chevron on April 15 announced the planned $5.1 billion expansion of the Gorgon project Premier Mark McGowan dismissed environmental concerns.
“It’s offshore and in very deep water. When we put Gorgon on Barrow we put in place the tightest regulations in the world,” he said.
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Emma Young is a Fairfax Media journalist based in Western Australia, breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice.
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