Reproduced with Permission of Author. Full article here
ESSO has officially opened its new gas conditioning plant at Longford in Gippsland, promoting it as the largest domestic gas project on Australia’s eastern seaboard, and one that will give certainty to the state’s gas supplies for about 40 years. The development will supply 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas to eastern Australia, which Esso says is enough to power a city of one million people for 35 years.
The conditioning plant represents the completion of the $5.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum project in Bass Strait, which has resulted in the development of two new gas fields and the upgrade of a third. The plant will remove excess carbon dioxide and mercury from the gas taken from the offshore gas fields, which will then be processed at Longford.
This is certainly welcome news for local employment. The company says that construction of the plant ‘generated more than 800 direct jobs’. But there are some significant environmental problems with the plant.
Wellington Shire Council granted planning permits for the plant in 2013, despite fears that it would increase the state’s greenhouse emissions by one million tonnes a year. Back in 2007, Phil Hart, a petroleum facilities engineer, and representative of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil said:
“The gas conditioning plant is required to treat new production from the Kipper gas field. The downside is that it would emit a million tonnes of CO 2 every year. While not quite in the same league as a coal-fired power station, this is not the right approach to achieving urgent CO 2 reductions. Natural gas piped from Longford to our stoves must be quite pure. Esso therefore plans to build a processing unit to separate the CO 2 from the gas. The result will be a concentrated waste stream of CO 2, perfect for sequestering in an older oil or gas field nearby. So, what does Esso plan to do with it? Its proposal is to vent it to the atmosphere”.
Phil suggested that “perhaps the sequestration option is less profitable and Esso/BHP would rather not lead us down that path”.
After the opening of the plant in 2017, Friends of the Earth approached the company to find out whether the plant would be emitting this much CO2 into the atmosphere. The company did not respond.
The current estimate is that around 800,000 tonnes will be emitted per year. This is equivalent to adding 200,000 cars to Victoria’s roads (this figure is based on a report into the SaskPower carbon capture and storage facility at Boundary Dam Power Station in Canada).