Gorgon Project

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The Gorgon Project is a gas project located approximately 130 kilometres off the north-west coast of Western Australia. The project is being developed by a joint venture consortium with Chevron holding a 50% stake, ExxonMobil 25 and Shell 25%. The Gorgon Joint Venture (GJV) partners announced the final go-ahead for the project in September 2009.[1]

The project includes a 15 million tonne per annum (MTPA) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant on Barrow Island. For international customers, the LNG will be loaded to ships via a 4km long jetty and gas for the domestic market piped south.[2]

Subsequently the Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, announced that he had given the final development approvals required for the project "under the Barrow Island Act 2003 and its Schedule 1 (the Gorgon Gas Processing and Infrastructure Project Agreement 2003). This included the approval of the joint venturers’ proposed carbon dioxide (CO2) injection project (geosequestration project) on Barrow Island."[3]

Gorgon and Carbon Capture and Storage

The Gorgon project is scheduled to include Carbon Capture and Storage with carbon dioxide injected from the "eastern coast of Barrow Island near the gas processing plant. This site was selected to maximise the migration distance from major geological faults and limit ground disturbance."[4]

The Western Australian Government's Department of State Development states that the joint venture partners are "proposing to inject up to 3.3 million tonnes of reservoir CO2 into a geological formation known as the Dupuy Formation deep beneath the island. This injection project is expected to be the largest CO2 geosequestration (long term storage) project in the world. The CO2 will be injected in a supercritical state at a depth of greater than 2 kilometres. Based on the GJV’s modelling, the injected CO2 is expected to be contained beneath Barrow Island indefinitely."[3]

The joint venture partners insisted that the Western Australian and commonwealth governments accept long-term liability for any losses caused by carbon dioxide leakage from the CCS operation. In August 2009 the Commonwealth Government and the State Government buckled and gave the joint venture partners the indemnity they requested. On its website the WA Department of State Development states that the "indemnity will be for common law liability arising from independent third party claims for loss or damage, suffered after site closure, as a result of the GJV’s long term storage of reservoir CO2 beneath the island."[3]

The government states that the operation could be injecting gas for up to 60 years at the site and that for "at least 15 years after the cessation of gas production, the GJV will be required to manage and monitor the injection site. An indemnity would only be provided to the GJV once it has satisfied both Governments that the site can be closed." The Western Australian government claimed that a precedent for a government accepting a CCS liability in Commonwealth offshore waters existed in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 passed by the commonwealth government in 2008.[3]

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "ExxonMobil announces Gorgon full funding", Media Release, September 14, 2009.
  2. "Gorgon - Its Time is Now", Chevron website, accessed June 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Government of Western Australia Department of State Development "Gorgon Project (Barrow Island)", Government of Western Australia, accessed June 2010.
  4. Chevron, "Reservoir Carbon Dioxide Injection: World-Class Technology", Chevron, accessed June 2010.

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