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Slippery Glencore’s Surat Project oil link means subsidiary may have misled QLD Government over CCS project

Lock the Gate Alliance has accused Glencore of failing to tell the Queensland Government that some of the waste carbon dioxide to be injected into a Great Artesian Basin aquifer as part of its Surat Project carbon capture and storage proposal would in fact be sold to a New Hope subsidiary for “enhanced oil recovery”.

The Alliance has submitted a complaint (available here) to the state’s Environment Department, urging it to penalise Glencore’s subsidiary, CTSCo. The department has since confirmed it is investigating the matter.

  • Glencore has presented its Surat Project plan to the Queensland Government as a permanent way to capture and store significant volumes of carbon dioxide and reduce Queensland’s emissions by 57,032 tCO2-e for the life of the project.

  • However, a separate October 2021 application by New Hope subsidiary Bridgeport Energy, which owns the depleted Moonie oil fields, to amend its environmental authority contradicts Glencore’s statement that all of the waste CO2 will be permanently stored.

  • Bridgeport Energy indicates up to 120,000 tonnes per annum of the CO2 captured by Glencore would be used for “enhanced oil recovery”. Bridgeport would inject the waste CO2 into its oil fields, extracting oil that would otherwise be left in the ground. Bridgeport’s application was made prior to the date Glencore’s EIS was submitted.

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said, “We’re calling on the Environment Department to punish Glencore for trying to mislead Queenslanders. 

“This is worse than greenwashing. It’s fossil fuel extraction by stealth, dressed up as carbon capture and storage. 

“Using this waste carbon dioxide to extract oil that would otherwise remain in the ground will lead to the burning of more fossil fuels and more CO2 in the atmosphere, and even the International Energy Agency says that enhanced oil recovery does not qualify as carbon storage.

“Glencore’s project was bad enough already because it risks contaminating an aquifer in the Great Artesian Basin. To learn that the company wants to also sell waste CO2 from coal fired power production to New Hope so New Hope can extract oil that would have otherwise remained underground is sinister even for a climate criminal like Glencore.”

Glencore’s subsidiary CTSCo wants to take waste CO2 from the Millmerran coal fired power station and store it in the Precipice Sandstone - an aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin.

The project has already run into controversy, with local landholders concerned the project will contaminate groundwater, and Federal MP for Flynn Colin Boyce raising concerns after it emerged Glencore had lobbied the state government for a law change that would permit the storage of waste in the aquifer.

If Glencore’s subsidiary CTSCo has committed an offence under either section 480 or 480A, it is liable for a penalty of 4,500 penalty units ($646,875) or 2 years imprisonment for individuals involved in the conduct. 

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