Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
Approval for offshore greenhouse gas storage exploration in the Gippsland Basin
The Victorian Government is releasing offshore acreage in state waters to investigate opportunities for storing greenhouse gas emissions safely, underwater in deep rock formations off the Gippsland coast.
Applications for a Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit are invited from industry to evaluate the viability of using carbon capture and storage technology in this location.
The exploration opportunity forms part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to explore alternative initiatives to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions now and into the future.
The first stage of the permit exploration process involves a permit holder identifying suitable undersea rock formations offering potential for safely injecting and permanently storing greenhouse gases (typically carbon dioxide) within an offshore, designated acreage.
Understanding carbon capture and storage
How is a Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit granted?
A Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit is granted through a competitive tendering process and is based on work program bids.
How many Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permits for exploration will be issued?
Only one Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit for the designated acreage will be approved.
What is a Greenhouse Gas Assessment Permit holder allowed to do?
The permit authorises the permit holder to explore carbon storage sites in the permit area for potential greenhouse gas storage formations and gas injection sites.
When will exploration works start?
Once a permit is granted and plans are approved, exploration work generally starts within two years as part of a six year program of work.
Where in Gippsland will exploration take place?
The area released is approximately 400 km2 between Seaspray and Loch Sport within Victoria’s state-watersMap of region identifying acreage (JPG 320.6 KB) (within three nautical miles of the low tide mark) off the Gippsland Coast.
What happens if the acreage is considered suitable for carbon storage?
If exploration activities identify undersea formations are suitable for greenhouse gas injection and storage, then the permit holder needs to submit a separate application for a Greenhouse Gas Injection Licence.
Can the permit holder start developing the acreage with a Greenhouse Gas Injection Licence?
No. The applicant needs to apply for an Infrastructure Licence to construct and operate any facility in the offshore acreage to inject greenhouse gases.
Who regulates the capture and storage of carbon in the acreage?
The Victorian Government regulates all aspects of greenhouse gas capture and storage activity within Victorian waters to ensure it is safe, open and transparent and does not adversely impact the environment or community.
Isn’t there already a carbon capture and storage project underway in the Gippsland Basin?
Yes. On 29 August 2014, the Commonwealth Government released acreage for greenhouse gas storage exploration in three areas of the Gippsland Basin within Commonwealth waters.
The difference between the two projects is that this project’s acreage is within Victorian waters – not Commonwealth waters and both projects operate under different jurisdictions.
About carbon capture and storage
What is carbon capture and storage?
Carbon capture is a process of separating and extracting carbon dioxide (CO2) from the production of industrial sources such as fossil fuels, chemicals, steel or cement.
The carbon dioxide is captured and held by a liquid or solid material and compressed by a change in pressure or temperature to release pure CO2 in preparation for processing and transportation.
Where can carbon be stored?
After the carbon has been processed and transported it can be stored safely and permanently underground or underwater within deep rock formations.
Where is carbon captured from?
Carbon dioxide emissions are extracted and captured from fossil fuels that generate electricity and from major industrial manufacturing industries producing cement, fertiliser, petrochemicals, iron and steel.
Are there benefits of using carbon capture and storage technology?
The primary advantage of carbon capture and storage technology is the capability to decrease greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to use fossil fuels and retain existing energy-distribution infrastructure.
What are the processes of capturing carbon and storing it?
There are three stages of capturing and storing carbon.
Stage 1 - Capture
This process involves separating (capturing) CO2 emissions from other gases produced at large industrial processing facilities such as coal and natural gas power plants, oil, steel and cement manufacturing plants.
Stage 2 – Transport
This process involves compressing and transporting CO2 to a deep, underground or undersea storage site usually via pipelines.
Stage 3 - Safe underground storage
This process involves injecting and permanently storing carbon dioxide via injection wells into deep, underground or undersea rock.
Is carbon capture and storage an alternative to renewable energy?
Carbon capture and storage technology is not an alternative to renewable energy.
It is an emission reduction solution providing an opportunity to significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions until newer low emission technologies become available.
Is greenhouse gas storage safe?
Greenhouse gas can be safely captured and stored underground.
Underground and undersea rocks have stored large quantities of oil and gas as well as other gases including CO2 for millions of years.
Greenhouse gas storage uses established technologies already in use in Australia and overseas.
Are there safeguards to ensure there is no environmental impact from exploration activities?
Applications to undertake exploration activities must be accompanied by an environment plan which assesses environmental, social, economic and cultural matters.
The environment plan will be assessed by Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) to ensure it meets relevant environmental standards.
What impact (if any) will the greenhouse gases have on Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park?
Access to the Ninety Mile Beach Marine National Park is regulated under the National Parks Act 1975. Exploratory work is not permitted within the marine park.
Can the greenhouse gas escape from undersea storage?
The greenhouse gas is contained within porous rock overlaid by thick layers of non-porous mudstone cap rock and stored almost one kilometre beneath the ocean surface.
A permit holder is required to meet strict standards including applying for an Injection Licence to store carbon and undergoing a rigorous assessment by the ERR and NOPSEMA to ensure the site has an appropriate seal and is suitable for carbon storage.