FUEL FIGHT: Green groups oppose second gas project

July 28, 2022 BY

Another energy company has planned a floating gas terminal near Geelong to bolster the state's supply of the resource. Photo: SUPPLIED

AN APPLICATION for a second floating gas import terminal near Geelong could be submitted within months.

Geelong environmentalists have already hit out at the proposal, which they claim would threaten nearby protected wetlands, is an unnecessary addition to Victoria’s gas network and will slow down a transition to renewable energy sources.

Dutch conglomerate Vopak is proposing to build a Victoria Energy Terminal to store and process liquified natural gas for the state’s pipeline.

The plan is similar to a project from Viva Energy to build near its Geelong Refinery site, which is undergoing final hearings from an environmental assessment.

Vopak’s suggested terminal location is 19 kilometres east of Avalon in Port Phillip Bay at an existing anchorage point.

The location would require underground boring to connect the gas terminal to land and would require new transmission infrastructure in the Port Phillip Bay Ramsar wetland to reach existing pipelines near the Princes Highway.

Local environmental advocates Geelong Renewables Not Gas have been vocal opponents of Viva’s plan, and spokesperson Darcy Dunn said the group planned to also rally against the new project.

“We oppose new fossil fuel projects no matter where they’re located. We’re gearing up to fight this one, too,” he said. “The concerns we have and that the community have raised with us are replicated; climate change impacts, safety of transport of gas and processing, human health, effects of burning and processing gas and effects on marine environment.

“There’s more questions with the environment I’d say, given it sits so far off land, so needs quite a long underground supply line to be bored to it under Ramsar-listed wetlands.”

Voprak has proposed two potential pipeline routes to connect to existing gas pipelines; an option that travels 19km underground to connect via Avalon Airport, and a 9km submarine route that reaches land near Werribee River.

A Voprak-produced fact sheet on the plan stated its proposed site “was found to strike the balance between the environment, marine life and social amenity and to cause minimal disruption to normal bay activities, including shipping movements”.

The company also claimed its facility would help Victoria tap into the international LNG market to meet an expected shortfall in gas supply later this decade.

But Mr Dunn said the state should instead focus on keeping more of its own gas for Victorian use and focus on renewable technology development to reduce reliance on the fuel.

“The reality is their projects are years away from being operational, which means we have time to make changes so we don’t need as much gas in this state,” he said.

Voprak representatives hosted information sessions on the project last week at Portarlington, Werribee and Corio.

It plans to submit the project to the state government for its environmental referral process by the end of September, with the facility intended to be operational in 2026.