Oil and gas companies are pillars of our society. Requiring them to offset their pollution would amount to reckless endangerment of our jobs and economy.
Well, let’s take a closer look at this narrative.
Oil and gas production is causing Australia’s emissions to rise even as coal pollution drops. Reports last November indicated half of the increase in Australia’s annual carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to Chevron’s failure to bury the carbon coming out of Gorgon in WA’s Pilbara.
WA’s emissions have seen the most rapid increase of any Australian jurisdiction, rising more than 27 per cent in the past 15 years.
So our Environmental Protection Authority had the gall to suggest Chevron, and the other oil and gas companies causing the rise in emissions should pay to offset their own pollution.
Shell, Santos, Chevron and Woodside sent their biggest wigs into town to talk to Premier Mark McGowan behind closed doors and hours later, the EPA backed down and withdrew its guidelines pending industry “consultation”.
I’m not saying that the guidelines were perfect or that business certainty counts for nothing.
The Macquarie Group warned the guidelines could delay projects and cost WA’s LNG industry billions.
But Macquarie and now the Reserve Bank of Australia have both warned, in the same breath, that the economic risks of climate change can no longer be ignored.
And let’s not forget we are talking about companies used to measuring costs and profits in the billions.
Chevron reported $2.1 billion in revenue for 2016. Gorgon is a $55 billion project. It’s reportedChevron can potentially make $32 million per day across Gorgon and Wheatstone. Canberra-based think-tank The Australia Institute has calculated – using the publicly reported potential earning above, Chevron’s publicly reported emissions and the price for a federal government carbon credit – that Chevron could go carbon-neutral for about 2 per cent of their profits.
This would drop to around 1.7 per cent if they managed to get their underground carbon storage facility at Gorgon working.
Promising they would take 80 per cent of the CO2 in the gas coming from the reservoir, and inject it beneath Barrow Island, was key to them getting their environmental approval to operate in the first place. But they have been permitted to operate without having fulfilled that promise – surprise, surprise.
A year after they began operating it still doesn’t work; they are releasing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas.
They recently told media it was going to take another nine months. This was reported on March 5, the same day Chevron announced commencement of domestic gas deliveries from Wheatstone.
The WA government put out a media statement “celebrating” Chevron’s “important milestone” getting Wheatstone going, without ever mentioning Gorgon’s little problem.
If it was a problem stopping their gas flowing, you can bet your bottom dollar Chevron wouldn’t allow that situation to continue for a year and nine months. They’d throw everything at fixing it. Maybe even billions.
Read the rest of this piece here at WAtoday.