Chevron deliberately delaying carbon storage mechanism, says conservation peak body

The operator of the Gorgon liquified natural gas (LNG) project, Chevron, has deliberately mismanaged the carbon sequestration program it promised in order to get approval for the controversial LNG development, according to the Conservation Council of WA.

IMAGE: Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project on Barrow Island CREDIT: Google

The company’s faulty and failing geosequestration program, intended to capture and store underground around 40% of the direct carbon pollution from the LNG plant, has not yet been brought online, despite promises from the gas giant that they were working to fix the many issues plaguing the capture mechanism.

Documents released this week by the Department of Environment and Regulation showed that Chevron has only made an application to operate the facility in May of this year, despite having planned for carbon storage to begin in the first half of 2017, and subsequently being granted an extension by the Environment Minister to early 2019. The program also received $60 million in funding from the Federal Government.

Chevron’s WA operations produce the equivalent pollution of five coal fired power stations every year, making the company the state’s biggest polluter by far.

Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) Director Piers Verstegen said that the geosequestration project has been fundamentally mismanaged from the outset.

“Despite Chevron’s claims that they have been making best endeavours to get geosequestration working for almost two years, they had not, until now, taken even the most basic step in seeking an operating license.

“This is not the kind of oversight that a company the size of Chevron with its team of lawyers would make. It shows that Chevron had no intention to get the plant operating by the required start time, and their claims have been baseless because they had not even taken the first step in the process.

“What all this shows is that the geosequestration project has been fundamentally mishandled from the beginning.

“We are not just talking about technical problems here. The most basic fundamentals of environmental compliance have not been adhered to by Chevron, with the likely result being much longer delays and millions of tonnes of additional carbon pollution from what is already WA’s biggest polluter.

“It is hard to reach any other conclusion than this bungled handling has been deliberate on the part of Chevron, and enabled by a government and regulator unwilling to hold the company to account, despite serious harm to the environment and exposure of workers to pollution.

“According to those conditions, Chevron is required to provide alternative offsets like planting trees or renewable energy if the geosequestration does not work. But instead, the State Government is continuing to allow this company to string us along. It’s not only embarrassing, but it is exposing workers to toxic emissions and costing the state hundreds of jobs for carbon farmers, renewable energy installers, and other workers who could be employed right now offsetting Chevron’s pollution.

“Chevron has claimed its Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects are making the company $32 million dollars per day in clear profits, while the company pays no tax and no royalties for the gas it exports. Offsetting the pollution from these operations by investing in tree planting, renewable energy, and carbon farming would cost the company less than 2% of these profits and deliver thousands of new jobs for West Australians.

“This is the latest sorry chapter in an ongoing delaying exercise by Chevron, aided by a lack of action by the government to make the company comply with its conditions.

“It’s time this embarrassing situation is put to an end. Chevron must immediately provide alternative offsets for its pollution and stop the release of toxic emissions on Barrow Island. If it cannot comply with its conditions, the license for the LNG project should be suspended.”

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