Commonwealth Parliament passes law enabling offshore CO2 storage

The Commonwealth Parliament has passed amendments to the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 required to aid injection and transportation of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Australian waters.

Oil and gas exploration and production company Pilot Energy Limited (Pilot) provided an update on the Mid West Clean Energy Project (MWCEP) regulatory process following the passing of amendments to the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981.

This will include the provision of a near-term CO2 management service to industrial emitters to permanently remove emissions during the energy transition.

In 2000, Australia joined the London Protocol, committing to safeguard the marine environment and combat sea pollution. Amendments in 2009 and 2013 allowed CO2 capture and storage beneath the sea. 

Recent changes to Australia’s Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 ensure compliance with London Protocol obligations, enabling permits for offshore CO2 capture, transportation, and storage in Australian waters.

Brad Lingo, Chairman of Pilot, noted that, “the passing of this legislation continues to de-risk the development and delivery of the MWCEP which, through its proposed CO2 Storage and clean ammonia production, can provide a meaningful reduction of global emissions.”

“We congratulate the Parliament for passing this important legislation and look forward to continuing to play an active role in the development of Australia’s burgeoning CO2 storage industry.”

Pilot stated that these latest amendments provide it with a clear regulatory pathway to provide material carbon management services to industrial emitters, particularly those in hard to abate sectors.

The Cliff Head CO2 Storage Project (CH CCS) is seen as an integral part of the MWCEP and requires Sea Dumping permits to aid the transfer and storage of CO2 within the proposed CH CCS project around 1500m below the sea floor.

The location of the Cliff Head platform

The project also involves brownfield redevelopment utilising existing Cliff Head Oil Field onshore/offshore facilities. It will include onshore CO2 capture/aggregation and offshore CO2 injection facilities.

CH CCS aims to provide over one million tonnes per annum of permanent CO2 storage continuing through 2050 and targets first CO2 injection by 2026.

The MWCEP necessitates regulatory approval covering environmental, development and operational facets. The project’s bid to ‘Declare a Greenhouse Gas Storage’ formation and acquire a Greenhouse Gas Injection License falls under the administration of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

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