Gas Industry and Coalition Seek Disaster-Free Exit Card in Monopoly Climate Crisis | Temperature check

Scott Morrison’s loving embrace and financial support of the gas industry has been a defining feature of his tenure as Prime Minister.

Hit by a historic pandemic, Morrison chose gas — not renewables — to spark an economic recovery.

Plans to create a new hydrogen export industry will use the gas. The government has – anachronistically in the face of the climate crisis – give fossil fuels a central role to reach the net zero he claims to have a plan for, but in reality he doesn’t.

Unlike coal, gas does not lend itself to being retained in parliament. But you think if Morrison could have, he would have.

We gotta get the gashe said in January 2019. His energy minister, Angus Taylor, claimed that exporting gas would reduce emissions in the region.

All that goes against multiple scientific studies and the International Energy Agency who all say that there can be no more new gas developments if (and if” really should be in bold and ALL CAPS) the worst of the climate crisis is to be avoided.

But Morrison, Taylor and the gas industry are systematically looking for a “disaster-free” card in this game of Monopoly (climate crisis edition).

This map is Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) – an expensive, complex and serially underperforming approach to capturing CO2 where it is released and then locking it away, usually in underground geological formations .

This week, Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) chairman Ian Davies said at his annual conference that the industry “must rise” to the challenge of decarbonisation, saying that “the technology we have key to achieving this on a large scale is carbon capture.” , use and storage – proven technology”.

While Davies said this was an approach first used by Exxon in the 1970s, the reality is that after billions of dollars of investment around the world, this column wrote how CCUS projects still only have the capacity to capture about 0.3% of the emissions caused each year by burning fossil fuels.

Australia has only one commercial carbon capture and storage facility in operation – the Chevron-led Gorgon project at Barrow Island off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia.

Gorgon is the world’s largest carbon capture project dedicated to storing CO2, which is different from the handful of larger projects where CO2 is used to extract more oil from the ground.

Davies told the conference that Gorgon had stored 6 million tons of CO2 since its launch in mid-2019.

“It works,” he said.

Chevron Australia personnel at the Gorgon facility on Barrow Island, Western Australia.
Chevron Australia personnel at the Gorgon facility on Barrow Island, Western Australia. Photography: Public Relations Image

This statement requires more than a little qualifying, as Gorgon has not met the targets set by the government to capture CO2, and as a percentage of the emissions that will ultimately be released by this project, this may only marginally reduce the amount additional CO2 which will add to the atmosphere.

Chevron Australia chief operating officer Kory Judd was a little less adamant earlier this week, tell Reuters“We still have a long way to go to meet the commitment to what we designed the injection system to do. What we’re doing is trying to learn how you inject CO2 into the tanks, how do they react, and then how do you do that reliably and how do you do that and get to the point of meeting the commitments that you’ve got it.

At Gorgon, the CO2 that accompanies gas as it is drilled in offshore fields is extracted and injected below Barrow Island.

But there was several costly technical problems. In the last financial year, Gorgon injected 2.17 million tonnes of CO2, which is around 1 million tonnes less than its target.

Once the CO2 is extracted, what remains is mostly methane to be compressed into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and transported overseas where it is burned, releasing far more CO2 than is captured.

How much more? An analysis by the Australia Institute suggested that if Gorgon injected and produced gas at full capacity, over a five-year period, around 260 million tonnes of CO2 would be emitted and only 20 million tonnes captured.

Whatever the claims, carbon capture and storage is not working on a scale that would significantly reduce emissions – despite the billions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent on it over the years.

A carbon capture and storage model designed by Santos Ltd, at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Brisbane on May 18.
A carbon capture and storage model designed by Santos Ltd, at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Brisbane on May 18. Photograph: Sonali Paul/Reuters

Does gas really reduce emissions?

During his speech, Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) Chairman Ian Davies reiterated that Australian LNG has the potential to reduce emissions “in importing countries by approximately 166 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year by switching to higher-emitting fuels. ”.

Appea told this column that the 166 Mt figure comes from the government’s long-term emissions reduction plan report. But that report doesn’t say how the figure is calculated – just that it comes from unpublished analysis by the Department of Industry.

Temperature Check asked the department how the figure was reached, but was told it could not answer because the government was in interim mode.

But when Taylor made a similar statement in 2019, the department said it was based on the assumption that all LNG exported by Australia was flared for electricity (but did not specify in what type of gas plant it was flared, as some are more effective than others). They then compared this to the same amount of energy if generated from burning coal.

Factcheck: Is Scott Morrison correct that Australia’s emissions have fallen by 20%? – video

For this figure to be credible, all exported LNG would have to be flared and this would have to replace the use of coal, rather than just satisfying Asia’s growing energy demand.

“The figure is simply wrong. The idea that LNG replaces coal is wrong. It’s not happening,” said gas industry financial analyst Bruce Robertson of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a think tank on the transformation of global energy systems.

Robertson said some of the LNG in Australia’s major markets of China and Japan is used for heating, not power generation. LNG is actually being replaced by renewables, he said, and most new LNG power plants in Asia have to cover short-term supply gaps and are less efficient than those that traditionally supplied LNG. basic electricity.

Nor is it taken into account, Robertson said, that if only about 2% of methane escapes from pipes along the supply chain, the climate impact of this powerful greenhouse gas makes LNG just as bad, if not worse, than coal.

Compare apples with watermelons

In what the Morrison government described as the dawn of a new energy export industry earlier this year, Morrison and Taylor were enthusiastic about a world-first shipment of “clean hydrogen”.

At the time, government press releases stated that if the hydrogen energy supply chain pilot project went commercial, it would turn Latrobe Valley coal into hydrogen and “save” 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 per year (which, by the way, is not impressive one ninth of the emissions of the coal-fired power station which is next to the project).

This column had asked HESC and the government how this 1.8 Mt was calculated, but got no response. But now we know. First, the government relied on information provided by the HESC.

In freedom of information document highlighted in a new report from the Australia Institute on the project, HESC said it was simply comparing two different methods of making hydrogen — one that uses gas in a process called steam methane reforming and its own approach that gasifies coal.

In fact, it’s not quite that.

Most important is that HESC compared the process of methane to steam without carbon capture (even if at least two factories, one Texas and another in alberta use methane vapor with carbon capture), and its own process with carbon capture.

It’s not a fair comparison.

Rinse and repeat

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Photography: Joel Carrett/AAP

On Sunday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg repeated a claim that Australia’s emissions record was much better than Canada and New Zealand, and better than the OECD average. .

This is a claim this column explored before. Aside from declines in emissions due to slower land clearing over the past three decades – which the federal government has nothing to do with – Australia’s emissions are no better than the OECD average.

A detailed ABC Fact Check on FrydenbergAustralia’s most recent claims about Australia’s report card – one repeated on social media by the Liberal Party – also found it “misleading”.

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