Judgment time for Chevron's failed Gorgon CO2 injection

• Blue ammonia problems • Big decommissioning spend begins •

Good morning,

European progress meets Australian denial

The European Union will cut emissions harder than earlier planned and has now targeted a 55 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by 2030.

Part of the plan is a carbon border adjustment mechanism to levy a charge on imports from more polluting countries. Australia will be little affected as we have few energy-intensive exports to Europe but wait until the US and others do something similar.

As the Blueprint Institute – aligned with those in the Liberal Party who are sensible about climate - put it:

"It's just another reminder that we have to take climate action seriously. The choice is clear: reduce emissions to defend our exports and seize new opportunities, or cling to stubborn climate policies at the cost of our economic competitiveness."

The EU is just ensuring its industries cleaning up their act are not undermined by freeloading foreign competitors dumping unrestricted amounts of carbon emissions into the world's atmosphere. Yep, that's us – Australia. It makes you feel proud, doesn't it?

Of course, the Minerals Council of Australia said it was unfair as its members "support the Paris agreement." Yes, but the MCA has also opposed any meaningful action to meet the Paris targets.

The Grattan Institute has called for sales of petrol and diesel cars to be phased out by 2035 and exempting zero-emission vehicles from stamp and import duties and luxury car tax. Transport is responsible for 18 per cent of Australian emissions. According to Grattan, as vehicle fleets take 20 years to replace, the adoption of electric vehicles needs incentives so the nation's fleet can be net-zero by 2050.

An Energy Policy WA report issued a few days after the presentation last week that I wrote up gives a lot more detail about their plans, and it is well worth a read. Encouragingly a Ministerial Taskforce on Climate Action is working on emissions reduction strategies for each sector of the State economy.

Over east, the new boss of AEMO, Daniel Westerman, wants the National Electricity Market to be able to handle periods of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

Resources Minister Keith Pitt called the target "absolute nonsense." Never take advice from an electrical engineer who pretends he does not understand batteries.

Australia has the largest blue carbon potential in the world with a quarter of the world's salt marsh, 15 per cent of global seagrass and seven per cent of the world's mangroves. A timely reminder to care for our coasts.

Oil and gas – the big clean up begins

Further to Woodside's problems with rusty caissons offshore and corroded pipping onshore, the Australasian Corrosion Association has issued a timely report on the massive cost of dealing with corrosion.

Clearly, lots of rust is not nearly enough for Woodside as they continue their endeavour to cut operating costs by 30 per cent. The word is that the purge has begun in a small way, but the big list of many hundreds is being assembled, and those on it will be told in August or September.

After NOPSEMA in February ordered Woodside to actually do some decommissioning, Valaris has won a contract for its Valaris DPS-1 to plug and abandon 16 wells at the Enfield field starting in the second half of 2022. A learned contact expects the total cost to be about $100 million.

With Woodside's current cost slashing, there is little doubt that this clean up would not have been done if the regulator had not demanded it.

And the Woodside equity fire sale has begun with 49 per cent of Pluto Train 2 and 22.5 per cent of Scarborough up for grabs, and every buyer knows that Woodside needs a sale more than they need a purchase.

Woodside has also submitted plans to plug and abandon Balnaves, the disappointingly short-lived oil field that came with the Wheatstone equity bought from Apache.

Unhelpfully for Woodside's marketing effort, Korea's Kogas has signed up for 2 million tonnes a year of LNG from Qatar Petroleum for 20 years. So, substantial long-term contacts are not a thing of the past – for Qatar.

However, Woodside has signed up three customers for trucked LNG from Pluto. Different magnitude, though.

And there is a great little video on why ExxonMobil has been named Australia's top tax dodger three years running by investigative journalist Michael West.

This week's PR nonsense comes from the oil and gas lobby group APPEA.

Chevron awarded a 10-year $1 billion maintenance contract for Gorgon to Ventia last week.

In an APPEA media release headlined "New Chevron contract creates hundreds of local jobs", WA director Claire Wilkinson said the 700 jobs were "on top of" existing employment in the oil and gas industry.

Really? Chevron is employing 700 extra maintenance people on Barrow Island? Of course not. The contract has just gone from UGL to Ventia.

Recall that APPEA chief executive Andrew McConville told the APPEA conference in June that "activists will say and do anything to get their way." Throwing stones in glass greenhouses, it seems.

Note that UGL and Ventia are both backed by CIMIC. So why the change? Probably an industrial relations tactic to move workers to lower conditions. Time will tell.

Hydrogen thoughts

Equinor vice-president of low-carbon technology Henrik Solgaard Andersen has pointed out that blue hydrogen – old-fashioned hydrogen from gas but with the CO2 buried – will struggle to match inherently emissions-free green hydrogen made from water and renewable electricity.

Only about 90 per cent of the CO2 given off from making hydrogen from gas be realistically captured, and there are more carbon emissions from producing the gas in the first place.

Green hydrogen, of course, needs a massive amount of land. While a large market for green hydrogen and ammonia is years off, it also takes many years to identify the land, gain access and build solar farms and wind turbines.

My take on the business model of InterContinental Energy and CWP Global chasing two huge renewable energy hubs in WA? Large permitted projects in low sovereign risk countries will be in huge demand later this decade.

Depressingly consistent Federal politics

Coalition members of a Federal Parliamentary Committee used their numbers to ensure Zali Steggall's bill to set up an independent Climate Change Commission to take the politics out of the issue not reach the floor of the house for a vote.

Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce said the Nationals need to see what net-zero emissions would cost before making a commitment. But Emissions Reductions Minister Angus Taylor has never asked the Climate Change Authority to develop a pathway to net-zero.

Years in Government with no planning, so they can blame no decision on no planning. Our current Federal Government simply does not care about our future.

It is now seven years since the Liberals and Nationals under Tony Abbott killed off the carbon price (note it was never a tax – calling it that was a deliberate lie). Seven wasted years in the most significant challenge the nation has faced since World War II. Thanks, Tones.

On that happy note, have a good week!