Safety & corrosion concerns at Woodside's North West Shelf

• Wind key to a green Pilbara • Twiggy's green progress spin •

Good morning,

  • Woodside has found some severe corrosion on the North West Shelf's Train 4 during a shutdown. To complicate matters, inspectors working for Applus are taking protected action at the moment, restricting Woodside's ability to address the problem.
    This morning their union the Offshore Alliance reported that Applus "pulled the safety card" to get workers back on the job by claiming Trains 1, 4 and 5 were a safety risk. Protected actions normally have a clause that the striking workers will respond to safety concerns.
    However, after Boiling Cold revealed in May that UGL made up safety concerns to break a strike during a shutdown at Chevron's Gorgon, workers could be forgiven for not trusting such claims.
    So as the union points out, there are two possible scenarios: Applus is fibbing, or Woodside has a big safety problem.
    READ: Concern over corrosion found at Woodside’s North West Shelf LNG
  • Alinta Energy general manager asset strategy Gary Bryant did not mince words at the recent Pilbara Summit, calling for the iron ore giants to cooperate to build one Pilbara power network from their separate islands to support their common decarbonisation efforts.
    Well known energy lawyer Matt Bowen pointed out that progress is being made with Alinta, Horizon Power and Rio Tinto getting together to set up an independent network operator for at least some of the Pilbara grid.
    The other key to a green Pilbara, according to Bryant,  is wind and lots of it, but locations seem hard to find.
    READ: A green Pilbara needs wind and one network: Alinta
  • A Federal Government review of safety in the offshore oil and gas industry has called for a closer review of design changes, owner's responsibilities and diving; and a greater focus on worker’s mental health.
    READ: Review calls for tougher line on offshore safety

Oily and gassy stuff

Woodside completed the purchase of FAR’s interest in its Sangomar oil project off Senegal. Woodside has 100 per cent of Pluto Train 2, 73.5 per cent of Scarborough and 82 per cent of Sangomar. That is a lot of selling down to do.

Mineral Resources has secured a rig to drill its Lockyer Deep 1 well in the Perth Basin.

Offshore minnow Western Gas plans to drill the Sasanof-1 exploration well in Q1 2022 near Hess’s Equus acreage it bought for $US2 in 2017. The Valaris Ms-1 rig has been secured, and a listed company is looking to farm in. It will be interesting to see which company wants to plunge into high risk and typically slow to commercialise gas exploration.

At the same time, Santos, Chevron and Inpex surrendered an exploration permit in the Timor Sea.

WA gas consumers should all say thanks to the State’s domestic gas reservation policy, as the alternative is Victoria’s $58/GJ. Unsurprisingly manufacturers want Resources Minister Keith Pitt to use the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism to limit LNG exports from Gladstone. Pitt’s choice between manufacturers and gas producers will clarify which part of its gas-fired recovery the Federal Government cares about: gas or recovery.

However, Pitt can take action when he really wants to: like $21 million of our money to Imperial Oil and Gas to drill the Beetaloo in the NT. Imperial happen to be closely linked to big Coalition donor Paul Espie. Total coincidence.

Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher said carbon storage was crucial to attracting foreign investment into Australia’s resource sector. I think what he really meant is that the illusion of affordable carbon capture and storage quickly deployed on a vast scale is vital to stop capital flight from oil and gas accelerating.

The International Energy Agency says gas demand growth means net-zero emissions will not be reached until after 2070, which is hard to reconcile with just about every oil and gas company declaring its business is compatible with the Paris Agreement. Unsurprisingly, the IEA also called for greater rigour around applying the label “carbon-neutral LNG.”

In the UK, an Oil and Gas Authority-led effort has cut the estimated cost of offshore decommissioning by £13billion to £46billion ($85 billion). As decommissioning costs are tax-deductible, the Australian Treasury will hope the same can be done to Australia’s estimated bill of $52 billion.

Powering up

Synergy’s big battery in Kwinana has received development approval.

Western Power is on the lookout for businesses interested in flexing a total of 35MW of demand or generation to suit the needs of the grid.

According to an Accenture report, building batteries could be a $7 billion boost to Australia’s economy.

Twiggy’s green machine spins hard

FMG “delivers on ambitious stretch targets” on the road net-zero emissions by 2030, according to a company announcement to the ASX last week.

The miner had “reached its 30 June 2021 targets for initial decarbonisation projects, announced on 15 March 2021.” Sadly, a quick comparison of the two announcements showed this was nonsense.

  • Promised “Developing a ship design powered by green ammonia and trialling that design in new ammonia engine technology, at scale.”
  • Delivered: “Completion of design and construction of a combustion testing device for large marine (ship) engines.” Building a testing device is not trialling, not in an engine and not at scale.
  • Promised: “Testing large battery technology in our haul trucks.”
  • Delivered: “Testing of battery cells to be used on Fortescue haul trucks.” So, no testing on trucks.
  • Promised: “Trialling hydrogen fuel cell power for our drill rigs.”
  • Delivered: “Design and construction of a hydrogen-powered drill rig for technology demonstration complete, with systems testing underway.” Sounds like pre-trial testing, not a trial.
  • Promised: “Trialling technology on our locomotives to run on green ammonia
  • Delivered: “Successful combustion of ammonia in a locomotive fuel.” Nothing on a locomotive.
  • Promised: “Conducting trials to use renewable energy in the Pilbara to convert iron ore to green iron at low temperatures, without coal.”
  • Delivered: “Successful production of high purity (>97%) green iron from Fortescue ores at low temperature.” Probably done at FMG’s “Green Team” facility in Hazelmere, not the Pilbara, but give this one a tick.

In summary: one target met, four missed but heavily word-smithed.

No one would be happier than me if Fortescue reaches net-zero emissions by 2030, but how can anyone believe future progress reports after this?

Why not just say they were incredibly ambitious stretch targets, the team worked crazy hard but did not meet them, then give the details of what was achieved? Simple, honest and credible.

Instead, Fortescue spun claims of green progress like Woodside and Santos fibbed about emissions reductions at Pluto Train 2 and Barossa.

Have a good week.