Big Gas Sails Out of Westernport, Into Corio Bay
The recent cancellation of AGL’s plans to develop a gas import terminal at Crib Point, on Victoria’s Westernport Bay, has swung focus over to another planned gas import terminal, this time down the road at Geelong.
The Westernport win, led by Environment Victoria and community group Save Westernport, was one of the most significant wins for the natural environment in Victorian history. In a way, however, it’s opened the door for a competing gas terminal, proposed by Viva Energy, to be built next to their existing Corio Bay fuel refinery.
Viva’s gas import terminal requires an extension to the refinery pier out into Corio Bay, a floating gas terminal, a treatment facility, and a new 6.5-kilometre pipeline to connect it to the Victorian gas grid.
"The import terminal threatens the local marine environment, as it did in Westernport"
The facility would import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from both Australia and overseas. Due to the nature of the Australian gas market where lucrative export markets are prioritised at the expense of the domestic market, some of that gas being imported from overseas will actually be Australian gas, returning home.
The gas import terminal is being opposed by local community group Geelong Sustainability, who argues the import terminal threatens the local marine environment, as it did in Westernport. The regasification process requires large volumes of seawater which is chilled and chlorinated in the process and pumped back into the bay.
Geelong Sustainability (GS) believes focus should be on the site becoming a renewable energy hub instead. “Viva says it supports the transition to cleaner sources of power but, so far, the only detailed proposal is to import gas, a dirty, polluting fuel that can be as damaging to our climate as coal,” says GS’s Sally Fisher. “Geelong can be a renewable energy hub. We have the infrastructure, skilled workforce, and proud manufacturing heritage to position our city as the place for a rapidly growing clean energy industry, especially given our proximity to the big battery planned for Moorabool.”
Viva Energy has signed MOUs with global energy companies to also develop the current Corio facility as an energy hub, including a 27 megawatt solar farm and green hydrogen production, although there are no current plans or timelines offered for these.
Viva has also been in the news lately as the beneficiaries of a $2 billion Federal Government plan to shore up Australia’s fuel refinery capabilities. Viva’s Geelong refinery is one of just two remaining Australian refineries.
The public submission period on the proposed gas terminal has closed, and Viva are now preparing their Environmental Effects Statement, due to be released for public consultation in early 2022. They plans to have the terminal operational in 2024.
Banner image – An example of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit. Photo: courtesy of Environment Victoria.