Viva Energy accused of climate accounting trick

Residents are campaigning against Viva Energy's push to set up a new gas terminal to import liquefied natural gas. Photo: VR Fish

Environment Victoria has accused Viva Energy of using a climate accounting trick to significantly underreport emissions from its proposed Geelong gas terminal.

The energy company released its 13,000-page environment effects statement on February 28.

Environment Victoria campaigns manager Greg Foyster said Viva Energy excluded emissions from transporting the liquefied natural gas to Victoria, which could make the total emissions between four and 12 times higher.

Viva Energy estimated that the total annual emissions associated with its proposal was the equivalent of 47,906 tonnes of carbon dioxide. But that did not include emissions from transportation and only measured one part, “open loop mode”, of production.

However, rival AGL, with similar technology and import volumes, recorded operating emissions of 449,390 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the same mode — more than nine times higher. AGL failed in its bid for a gas import terminal at Westernport in Victoria.

“In other words, they’re [Viva Energy] proposing to import massive amounts of gas in huge LNG tankers but not counting all the fuel that those boats will burn to get here,” Foyster said.

Viva Energy chief executive Scott Wyatt argued in the Geelong Advertiser on March 2 that the emissions “associated with bringing gas into the state” were not counted because “our role is not as a gas supplier, our role is as an infrastructure player in terms of providing infrastructure for existing retailers, wholesalers and gas producers to bring gas into Victoria”.

Foyster said Wyatt's argument that Viva Energy does not control where the gas comes from is not borne out by the facts. “Viva has signed an MoU with Woodside to be the exclusive import terminal for gas from its fields in Western Australia. This shows that Viva does, in fact, have some degree of control over where the LNG comes from.”

Spokesperson for Geelong Renewables Not Gas Sally Fisher said on March 2: “[Viva] has an obligation to be honest and transparent and the community needs to know the full extent of the pollution associated with this project, including transport emissions.

“Many residents are deeply worried about climate change. This is a major fossil fuel project in Victoria’s backyard, with serious environment impacts.”