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Chevron must suspend Barrow Island LNG operations until pollution problem solved

December 19, 2017
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5 million tonne pollution problem shows Chevron not taking climate change obligations seriously

The admission by Chevron today that millions of tons of extra carbon pollution will be released due to ‘technical difficulties’ at the Barrow Island LNG project shows that Chevron are not taking climate change or their regulatory responsibilities seriously, according to the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA).

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IMAGE: Map on p9 of Chevron's compliance report

The state’s peak environment group has called for operations at the Barrow Island LNG facility to be suspended until the pollution problem is solved, or alternative offsets provided. 

Chevron’s compliance report for the Gorgon facility released today reveals that equipment to capture and inject carbon pollution underground will not be operational until late 2018, despite the LNG facility being in production. The delay in the commissioning of the equipment means that between 5.5 and 7.8 million tonnes of CO2 pollution will be released into the atmosphere, according to Chevron documents.

According to the West Australian, the additional carbon dioxide released is equivalent to the pollution from all coal burning for electricity in Western Australia for 7 to 10 months.

Over $60 million in Federal Government funding has been provided to Chevron for the ‘geosequestration’ of carbon dioxide, which is a key requirement of the WA Government approval for the project, and the primary justification for locating the LNG facility on the Barrow Island A Class Nature Reserve. 

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said it was clear that Chevron was willfully ignoring its obligations on climate change and State Government conditions on the project.

Western Australia’s largest polluter

“Chevron is easily the biggest polluter in Western Australia.

“Between the Wheatstone and Barrow Island LNG facilities, Chevron accounts for up to 17 million tonnes of carbon pollution per year and contributes nearly 20% of WA’s total carbon pollution.

“This shocking revelation that millions of tonnes of extra pollution will be released from the Barrow Island LNG plant shows that the company is failing to implement even the very modest conditions imposed by the WA Government.

“The underground injection of carbon pollution was the primary justification for Chevron to build the massive LNG refinery on the Barrow Island Nature Reserve, and over $60 million in taxpayers’ money has been given to Chevron to make it work.”

The modest conditions put in place by Mark McGowan as Environment Minister require Chevron to capture and ‘geosequester’ 80% of ‘reservoir carbon dioxide’, which is about a quarter of all carbon pollution from the Barrow Island facility. Should this not be feasible, alternative offsets are required.

Chevron must provide alternative offsets or cease operation

“If Chevron are not able to comply with these modest conditions, then LNG processing operations Barrow Island facility should to be suspended until the pollution problem is solved, or alternative offsets provided.

“Geosequestration was always a risky option, but there are other means to offset emissions.

“If Chevron wishes to continue operating the Barrow Island facility, then it must immediately outline what alternative offsets it will put in place to address this extra carbon pollution.

“The failure by Chevron to provide alternative offsets should invite immediate scrutiny by the WA Government.”

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