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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Australian government celebrates $ 16.5bn gas project despite protests from climate groups

Welcome to the $ 16.5 billion (US $ 12 billion) offshore gas project off the coast of Western Australia (WA), which has been a celebration of celebration in government and a lot of criticism from environmental groups.

Following the merger of the oil and gas portfolios of producing giants BHP and Woodside, $ 2.1 billion (US $ 1.5 billion) has been committed to start development of 8 subsea gas wells at Scarborough – 375 kilometers (233 miles) off the Karrat coast in WA.

Approximately 314 billion cubic meters (11.1 trillion cubic feet) of dry gas, equivalent to 126 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, will ultimately be pumped through 430 kilometers (270 mi) of pipeline for onshore processing.

Speaking at a meeting of the Australian Business Council, Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his excitement about the start of the project.

Epoch Times Photos
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at a news conference in Sydney, Australia on October 15, 2021 (Brandon Thorne / Getty Images)

“I assure you that our entire government warmly welcomes the announcement on Monday of the final investment decision to approve the $ 16.5 billion Scarborough project,” Morrison said.

“I did a little practice in the Chamber the other day.”

Earlier this year, the federal government designated 21 new areas for oil and gas exploration in parts of the coast, including the Carnarvon Basin, where the Scarborough gas field is located.

Epoch Times Photos
Epoch Times Photos
21 production sites available for offshore oil and gas exploration under the Offshore Oil and Gas Release in 2021. (Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources)

This comes amid growing demand for gas as governments around the world, including Australia, have identified the resource as indispensable in providing energy for periodic power generation such as wind and solar in the face of a rapid transition to renewable sources.

The United Kingdom and other parts of Europe have struggled to secure sufficient gas supplies after a significant collapse in wind power, exacerbated by a confluence of factors, which poses the risk of energy shortages as the region approaches winter.

Australia itself is in a rush to explore new oil and gas resources amid shortages on the east coast and southern states, which could run out in 2024, affecting nearly 90 percent of Australians.

Grid systems expert and professor of engineering at the University of Melbourne Ewen Marils previously told The Epoch Times that while he believes Australia is resolutely on the path to zero emissions, gas will play a key role in the process.

“Most gas-fired power plants can probably also run on hydrogen, so you can switch to something more renewable afterwards,” Marils said, mentioning some of the environmental benefits gas has over traditional coal-fired power generation.

The CSIRO report (pdf) also found that household gas reduced emissions by about 31 or 50 percent compared to coal, depending on the type of turbine used.

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“And they can act quickly, which is important,” Mariles said. “The coal power plant cannot compensate for the whims [solar] and the wind, but a gas power plant can. If the wind dies down, the gas can fall almost immediately and lift it from where the wind stopped. And the battery can do it, but only for a very short period of time. “

Scarborough attracts climate criticism

However, the decision to continue gas production has angered environmental groups as Australia and 196 other countries pledged to phase out fossil fuels at the 26th UN Climate Summit COP26.

Epoch Times Photos
Epoch Times Photos
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 at the SECC in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021 (Phil Noble / Pool / Getty Images)

The Washington State Environmental Protection Agency (CCWA) has estimated that the Scarborough project will generate an additional 1.6 billion tonnes of emissions over its lifetime, equivalent to the construction of 15 new coal-fired power plants.

The CCWA said the project is the most polluting fossil fuel proposed in Australia and will increase Washington State’s total emissions by about 4.4 million tonnes per year.

Climate activists also continued to block the road leading to the onshore processing plant that will process gas from Scarborough, with two women and a man chaining themselves to concrete barrels in vehicles for several days.

The climate change communications organization, the Climate Council, suggested that Australia’s recently announced goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 has not been backed up by its action.

“It is clear that the Morrison government’s zero commitment by 2050 was designed to be misleading and always included expanding gas supplies from Washington state,” said a Climate Council spokesman.

“The International Energy Agency has made it very clear that there can be no new coal, oil and gas deposits if we limit the temperature rise below the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees.”

The sixth report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published earlier this year, declared a “red code” against the continued use of coal, oil and gas over fears that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions were a driving factor in climate change. …

“Woodside is trying to convince Australians that Scarborough is ‘clean’, although nothing could be further from the truth. Liquefied gas contributes significantly to global warming and slows down the development of critical zero-emission renewable energy sources, ”the spokesman said.

Daniil Khmelev

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Daniel Khmelev is a Perth-based Australian reporter covering energy, technology and politics. He is educated in mathematics, physics and computer science. Contact him at [email protected]

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