This story was originally published in The West Australian on 23 January 2018 with the headline "Chevron forced to confront gas problem." © Peter Milne.
The Wheatstone LNG project may need to offset more than one million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year if restrictions that were removed by Colin Barnett in 2013 are reinstated.
State Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the current requirement for Chevron to only report annual emissions.
When Wheatstone was approved in 2011 operator Chevron had to demonstrate it had minimised greenhouse emissions as far as practicable and performance was to be independently assessed every two years.
Additionally, offsets at least equal to the carbon dioxide in the reservoir gas piped to the LNG plant near Onslow were required.
Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said any requirement to offset carbon emissions would not only help the environment but also drive a significant expansion of the State’s carbon farming industry.
Chevron’s 2010 draft environmental impact statement indicates the $US34 billion ($42.5 billion) project would produce about four million tonnes of greenhouse gases when it reaches full production this year. About 1.2 million tonnes would be from the reservoirs and require offsets if the original requirements were reinstated.
A Chevron spokeswoman said the company was disappointed at the State Government’s action because Wheatstone’s emissions were already regulated by the Federal Government.
WA’s other LNG projects — North West Shelf, Pluto and Gorgon — have some State requirements to minimise greenhouse emissions.
A Woodside spokeswoman said the Browse venture was considering the environmental approvals that may be required if its gas was piped to the North West Shelf project.
An EPA spokeswoman said the authority would determine if Wheatstone’s requirements were in line with contemporary best practice and recommend any changes to the minister.