Monday, 25 April 2022

26th April 2022 - Oil giant Shell feels heat over giant $21 billion Prelude floating LNG plant


When Dutch-Anglo oil giant Shell decided to build a massive floating gas factory known as Prelude in 2011, it was billed as the dawn of a new era for the industry. 

Key points:

  • The Prelude project has been beset by cost and time blowouts, as well as technical problems
  • A lobbyist and former engineer says safety issues are the biggest concern
  • There are claims Prelude may never pay royalties for the gas it processes off Australia's north-west coast

Australia was midway through a once-in-a-lifetime $300 billion splurge that would make the country the world's biggest producer of super-chilled, shipped gas.

Floating gas plants were supposed to be the logical evolution, vacuuming up gas wherever they went and making fortunes for shareholders and taxpayers.

But barely a decade later, Prelude has been racked by cost and time blowouts, technical problems, and warnings from the regulator that the project came dangerously close to a catastrophic failure.

What's more, critics say the facility may never pay a cent in royalties, is unlikely to deliver a molecule of gas to the domestic market, and has sent most of the construction jobs offshore.

It is all a far cry from the rhetoric of last decade, when Shell's then-Australian chairwoman Ann Pickard said Prelude would be "full of Australians" and "generate a tonne of tax revenues".

How did the reality diverge so widely from the rhetoric, and what does the future hold for Shell's grand plans?

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Feb 17th 2022 Origin Energy to shut Australia's largest coal-fired power plant, Eraring Power Station, by 2025


Origin Energy to shut Australia's largest coal-fired power plant, Eraring Power Station, by 2025

Origin Energy is seeking approval to shut Australia's largest coal-fired power plant seven years early, with the Eraring facility in the NSW Hunter region now set to close by August 2025.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Jan 22nd 2022 - Environmentalists vow to fight latest Kimberley fracking proposal to unearth Australia's largest oil reserve

Key points:

  • Theia Energy's fracking proposal was published by the EPA for public comment this week (Jan 2022)
  • The Kimberley project could unearth Australia's largest oil supply
  • Environmentalists have called for the project to be rejected and for a ban on fracking
An energy economist says the world will be watching as an Australian company's proposal to frack onshore oil in the Kimberley is considered by Western Australia's environmental watchdog.

The WA Environmental Protection Agency released Theia Energy's application for seven days of public comment this week (January 2022), which outlines plans to drill and frack two exploratory wells 155 kilometres south-east of Broome.

It is the second application for fracking in the region since a moratorium on the practice was lifted in 2018, with a proposal from Texan-based Black Mountain Energy currently under assessment by the EPA.

Curtin University researcher Roberto F Aguilera said if proven to be viable, Theia Energy's proposal had the potential to develop into Australia's largest oil project.

"It could theoretically be a huge project when you consider the resource of nearly six billion barrels of oil and compare that with the proven oil reserves in Australia that are around two and a half billion," he said.

"But of course, it's one thing to have abundant resources; it's another thing to be able to access them."

Unlocking Australia's largest oil supply

There has been a lot of speculation about the potential for Theia Energy's Great Sandy Desert project, located in the in the north west's Canning Basin — which has some of the largest reserves of onshore oil and gas in the country.

A project fact sheet produced by the Perth-based company and dated 2018 suggested that of the tens of billions of barrels of oil estimated to be locked in the shale rock on their petroleum lease, six billion barrels were recoverable.

The oil find is described as "unconventional", meaning it is locked in dense rock that will need hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to allow the oil to flow to the surface.

The company, which has been contacted for comment, also previously published a conceptual graphic showing a network of wells, pipelines and a new port on the Kimberley coast to support the project if it was to successfully scale up.

Economic and social challenges ahead

Dr Aguilera, who is also a petroleum consultant, said the idea had promise but there were many financial, logistical, and social licensing challenges ahead for this fledgling industry.

"That includes upstream infrastructure to be able to produce the resource, but also the midstream installations like pipelines to be able to deliver it to a market," he said.

"Not to mention other factors like environmental and public acceptance, which are also very important in determining a company's social licence to operate.

"Without that licence development becomes very difficult, as we've seen in many parts of the world."

Dr Aguilera said building infrastructure like pipelines was particularly costly but with oil prices holding strong at nearly $90 per barrel, this could tip the balance in favour of the project.

Saturday, 11 December 2021

Dec 11th 2021 - Proposed pipeline opening up the Kimberley to Fracking

 To construct this pipeline across the Kimberley is likely to cost $1.5 Billion.  Thousands of gas-fracking wells would be required to underspin such a pipeline.  This would mean an industrialised landscape from near Fitzroy Crossing to Broome.  The Kimberley would look like the Texas oil and gas fields.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

7th Oct 2021 - What causes Methane emissions

 Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices, land use and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

3rd Nov 2021 - Australia refuses to join global pledge led by US and EU to cut methane emissions


Key points:

3rd Nov 2021 - Calls from all directions for Australia to do more to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia has now agreed to a target of net zero by 2050, finally joining all our major trading partners and more than 80 other countries.

However, with a near-term commitment to cut emissions by just 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, Australia's ambition is considered insufficient by almost any measure.

Labor is calling for stronger 2030 targets, although the opposition won't say what those targets should be until after the Glasgow conference.

Others have been clearer. The Business Council of Australia has backflipped on earlier calls to go slow on climate action and is now calling for a 46-per-cent cut by 2030.

Some in the government have called for stronger targets too. Liberal MP Dave Sharma, for example, suggested a 2035 target of at least 40 per cent, which pulls off the neat trick of implying that the government needs to exceed its 2030 target without explicitly repudiating it.



2020 Fracking Facts