Environment groups cold on carbon capture for Beetaloo fracking
Its our DNA to screw you
Labor’s likely incoming Energy Minister, the former shadow minister for trade and shadow minister for resources gave an important speech to the oil and gas peak body last week.
Addressing the Australian Pipeline and Petroleum Association (APPEA) at a cocktail gathering, Madeleine King thanked the industry’s commitment to net-zero through the use of carbon capture and storage.
“I want to thank APPEA itself as an organisation for the work you all do representing your members in this place and around the country in various states,” said the MP, who represents Brand in the resource state of Western Australia.
A popular local MP, King was swept back into power on a swing of 10.5% in the seat of Brand amid the surge of support for Labor in WA. The rub is that King is also regarded by renewable energy proponents as being popular also with the fossil fuel industry, one telling MWM that there was no way Australia could meet its emissions commitments if Labor increased coal and gas production and, its current development trajectory.
APPEA’s members and major funders are multinational oil and gas giants. The advocacy achievements of the lobby group include:
- “Advocated for, and succeeded in having lifted, the moratorium on Victorian onshore natural gas development and established APPEA’s voice in Victoria’s energy policy development.”
- “Advocated successfully for natural gas to be recognised as a critical fuel for many decades to come for electricity, commercial and residential use leading to wide acceptance including by the Australian Government as a part of its post-COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery plan.”
- “Advocated on the role of natural gas in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and for this to be recognised as part of Australia’s efforts to address climate change and ensure energy security at home and with trading partners. This is now a core part of the Australian Government’s narrative on the role of the industry.”
In reference to key APPEA member’s net zero commitment’s King makes reference to Carbon Capture and Storage.
“I want to point out that we recognise that part of this industry’s pathway to net zero is carbon capture and storage” she said. This, despite the condemnation globally of CCS technology, which can work technically but in practice has been routinely found to be commercially unrealistic; too expensive to implement.
Greg Bourne, energy expert and former president of BP Australasia, says CCS is not the answer to reducing emissions.
“Australia’s energy security is vulnerable because we rely on globally traded gas and oil with all the geopolitical risks attached,” he said.
“Carbon capture and storage will not solve this problem, it will only prolong the life of these fossil fuels in our energy system complete with their emissions.”
He said APPEA’s motivation in pushing CCS is not to decarbonise but to actually increase the production of gas and oil.
Responding to criticism of generous tax breaks enjoyed by the sector, the APPEA’s yearly report card showed the most recent annual contribution to governments totalled $5.35 billion in tax, rents and royalties.
This criticism is mirrored by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and The Australia Institute who have both separately found that CCS programs are designed to increase the amount of fossil fuels burnt.
King tacitly acknowledged that CCS programs have yet to meet economic viability.
“We have to admit there have been some false starts in achieving success with that technology, and some of that is perhaps due to the admirable ambition to make it work quickly,” she said.
Australia’s largest and most expensive CCS program, at Exxon’s Gorgon facility, has failed to deliver.
“Gorgon CCS failed to reach its pre-defined targets,” says LNG/gas analyst Bruce Robertson. “CCS technology has been operating for 50 years. If Chevron and its partners can’t get it to work these past five years at Gorgon, it’s not an effective technology for reducing carbon emissions.”
Moreover, attempting to use CCS to reduce the emissions from gas is very shortsighted. As noted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the majority of emissions from gas occur when the gas is burnt, not when it is produced.
CCS has included as a means of accounting for reduced carbons through a system of carbon credits lacking credibility which has been developed directly alongside the oil and gas industry.
Environment groups have criticised a new CSIRO report looking at offsetting emissions from proposed gas extraction in the Northern Territory.
The report explores options for offsetting greenhouse emissions produced by extracting gas from the Beetaloo Basin, should the NT government approve it.
The groups have criticised the inclusion of carbon capture and storage among the measures.
“This technology has never worked at scale, has a track record of failure, and is being used by the gas industry to justify opening up new gas fields like the Beetaloo,” NT Environment Centre executive director Kirsty Howey said.
CSIRO researchers spent two years mapping out greenhouse gas emissions for five different scenarios for gas extraction, and the best ways to deal with them.
The research was supported by an alliance of state, territory and federal governments and gas industry producers called the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance.
Apart from carbon capture and storage, the report also recommended options such as Indigenous fire management and reforestation, but did not include their economic viability as part of the research.
The work was defended by Damian Barrett, director of the research alliance and also of the CSIRO’s Energy Resources Research program.
“CSIRO scientists have delivered a precise and detailed technical analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with … Beetaloo Basin, and important information about realistic mitigation and offset options,” he said.
“CSIRO stands behind the quality of its research and the integrity of its peer review process.”
The report comes just as gas industry representatives told the ABC they expect the NT government to approve fracking in the Beetaloo Basin in the next month.
In 2018, a report gave the NT government 135 recommendations to manage climate risks associated with fracking.
However, the government still has not implemented 35 of these.
A new report from (Fossil fuel spin doctors) dressed up as the CSIRO says that Australia could turn carbon dioxide waste into a valuable revenue stream.
The CO2 Utilisation Roadmap explores using emerging carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) technologies in the food and beverage industry, in the creation of zero or low carbon building products and materials, and which could position Australia for the export of low emissions chemicals and fuels.
“No single technology will take us to net zero – the scale of our challenge in adapting to climate change and decarbonising our industries requires us to draw on every available tool,” CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said.
“The development and demonstration of high abatement technologies like CCU has the potential to have a significant impact, as part of our broader efforts to both reduce emissions and lift the competitiveness of our industries.”
Capturing CO2 from industrial waste streams
The CSIRO said industries like cement, steel, plastics and heavy transport still rely on fossil fuels or have inherent emissions in their processes and are traditionally ‘hard to abate.’
They also account for about a sixth of Australia’s emissions and around a third of global emissions.
Essentially, CCU technologies could capture the CO2 from the waste streams of these industrial processes (or directly from the atmosphere), and convert it into useful new products such as synthetic fuels to food and beverages, chemicals, and building materials.
Complements hydrogen and emissions reduction research
The idea is to transition Australia towards a lower emissions future while creating economic growth – and hydrogen plays a key role.
The report says that, by acting as a potential major user of hydrogen and helping to reduce CO2 emissions, CCU complements CSIRO’s investment in Australia’s hydrogen and emissions reduction research through the hydrogen industry and towards net zero emissions missions.
“Our analysis shows that Australia is well positioned to capitalise on the CCU opportunity and become a leader in this emerging area,” CSIRO Futures associate director Vivek Srinivasan said.
“Australia’s advantages include capacity to implement the low-cost, low-emission electricity needed for CCU technologies, a track record for developing internationally competitive export industries, and established international bilateral agreements on low emissions technologies.”