The CarbonNet Project

Diagram showing carbon capture and storage.

The CarbonNet Project (CarbonNet) is investigating the potential for establishing a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) network. The network would bring together multiple carbon dioxide (CO2) capture projects in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, transporting CO2 via a shared pipeline and injecting it into deep underground, offshore storage sites in Bass Strait (figure 1).

CCS involves capturing CO2 released by industrial processes, compressing it and then transporting it to an injection site to be sequestered deep underground for safe, long term storage in suitable geological formations – similar to the way oil and gas has been stored underground for millions of years.

CCS is being investigated as part of a suite of solutions with the potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help address climate change. Both the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believe that CCS can play an important role in helping to meet global emission reduction targets.

Why Gippsland?

CarbonNet is investigating the potential for CCS in Gippsland as the region is widely recognised as a world-class location offering significant potential for CCS. The offshore Gippsland Basin has been found to have the highest technical ranking of 25 major basins across Australia and the largest storage potential of any east coast basin (2009 National Carbon Task Force).

The project is exploring the potential to initially capture and store up to five million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Successful implementation of this project could be the starting point for an expanding commercial scale carbon transportation and storage system, enabling new industries and a significant reduction in carbon emissions in Victoria.

Work to date

Since 2010 CarbonNet has completed extensive feasibility studies which have been subject to independent review and certification, including detailed modelling of potential CO2 storage sites. The project has also secured legal access to offshore sites enabling it to undertake further field activities to confirm the viability of those sites.

In early 2017 the Victorian and Commonwealth governments agreed to progress CarbonNet to Stage 3 – Project Development and Commercial Establishment (figure 2).

Project development

CarbonNet’s prioritised site, Pelican, is located offshore from Ninety Mile Beach in Bass Strait. In early 2018 a marine seismic survey was carried out to obtain additional geological information about Pelican, and an appraisal well is planned to be drilled in Commonwealth waters in late 2019/early 2020 to retrieve rock samples. The rock samples will allow scientists to confirm the properties of the rock which will form the 'cap rock' and hold the stored CO2 in place.

Field activities during Stage 3 will require extensive stakeholder consultation, regulatory and environmental approvals.

Diagram showing the process of the project. It has completed the concept and feasibility stages and is currently in the project development stage.

Commercial establishment

Along with the field activities, CarbonNet is continuing its investigations into potential industries that can capture CO2, and evaluating transport pipeline routes to the selected offshore injection site.

Defining the commercial structure and underlying principles to attract private sector investment is a key focus of this stage of the project.

CarbonNet is also working with its research partners (CO2CRC, CSIRO and The University of Melbourne) during the Stage 3 work program to build a sound scientific basis for CCS in the Gippsland Basin.

CarbonNet is managed by the department and is funded by the Australian and Victorian governments.

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Page last updated: 17 Sep 2019