The carbon capture and storage operation is emerging technology that will be part of the production of natural gas from the immense Gorgon natural gas field, one of the world's largest untapped natural gas fields.
The Gorgon natural gas will be extracted and delivered via subsea and underground pipelines to gas treatment and liquefaction facilities on Barrow Island's south east coast.
The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2, will be stripped from the natural gas before it is liquified for transportation.
The carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere will be injected into the depleted natural gas wells 1,300-meters (4,265 feet) deep to ensure its safe storage and the reduction of heat-trapping emissions that raise the planetary temperature.
GE Oil & Gas compressor that will be used on the Gorgon project (Image courtesy GE Oil & Gas)
Six surface operating, 15 megawatt GE Compression Trains driven by electric motors will be deployed to compress the carbon dioxide.
In August, the Australian government announced its decision to jointly accept, with the Western Australian government, any long term liability arising from the storage of CO2 from the Gorgon project.
In September, the three owners of the Gorgon project announced the final investment decision that launched the project from the planning stage into the development stage.
Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, the Australian subsidiary of Chevron Corp., is the project's operator with 50 percent interest. ExxonMobil and Shell each hold 25 percent interest.
The Gorgon project is estimated to cost approximately A$43 billion for the first phase of development and about A$50 billion overall. The GE Oil & Gas contract alone is worth over $400 million.
Minister Ferguson said, "The $50 billion Gorgon LNG project will be the biggest single investment ever made in Australia, breaking the record set only a few years ago by the $12 billion Pluto LNG project now under construction in Western Australia."
Artist's overview of the Gorgon LNG plant that will be built on Barrow Island (Image courtesy Chevron Australia)
Gorgon is the first major greenhouse gas storage project to be launched since the Group of 8's 2008 recommendation to implement 20 large scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects by 2020.
The Gorgon partners are proposing to inject over 3.4 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year, or 120 million tonnes over the life of the project.
Reservoir CO2 makes up around seven percent of the raw natural gas stream to be processed on Barrow Island. In the standard processing of natural gas, this naturally occurring CO2 is stripped out and vented straight to the atmosphere.
At Gorgon, the reservoir CO2 will be compressed and injected into a geological formation that will be sealed by a series of barriers to prevent the migration of the injected CO2 to the surface.
Chevron Australia says the Gorgon carbon capture and storage project will reduce net global greenhouse gases by about 45 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing two-thirds of all vehicles from Australian roads.
The Gorgon project is Australia's biggest single resource project. At peak construction it is projected to generate about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country.
The Greater Gorgon Area is estimated to have resources of 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the equivalent of 6.7 billion barrels of oil. The resource contains enough equivalent energy to power a city of one million people for 800 years, the developers say.
Signing the Gorgon deal, from left: Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett, George Kirkland, Chevron global upstream and gas executive vice president; ExxonMobil’s Al Hirshberg; and Shell’s Jon Chadwick. Sept. 14, 2009 (Photo courtesy Chevron Australia)
"Gorgon will supply cleaner burning natural gas for the growing Asia-Pacific and Australian markets, create thousands of jobs, and generate substantial revenue for Australia,” said Jim Blackwell, president, Chevron Asia Pacific exploration and production.
The green light for the Gorgon Project was achieved September 14 after the granting of production licenses and final state development approval, conferred at a signing ceremony attended by Western Australian State Premier Colin Barnett and Australian Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson.
To date, the Gorgon partners have signed sale and purchase agreements for LNG export into Japan and South Korea, the world's two largest LNG import markets, as well as India and China. In August, China signed a contract to purchase Gorgon liquefied natural gas worth an estimated $50 billion over the next 20 years.
With this carbon dioxide sequestration project, Australia is solidifying its bid to be the world's go-to country for technologies that will allow continued use of fossil fuels while minimizing their impact on the global climate.
The new Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute in Canberra is aimed at accelerating the worldwide commercial deployment of sequestration technologies.
Announced by the Australian government in September 2008, the Global CCS Institute was formally launched in April 2009 and became an independent legal entity in July.
Recognizing the contribution carbon capture and storage can make in mitigating climate change, the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed A$100 million in annual funding for the Global CCS Institute.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.