It’s the little island that could. Barrow Island, 60km of the coast of Western Australia, is set to be the location of the world’s most ambitious operation to permanently dispose of carbon waste underground.
According to the Australian Financial Review, “the project will be the largest worldwide to securely inject CO₂ into a dedicated geological formation well below the surface of the Earth.”
The project involves three CO₂ removal trains, each processing one-third of the total gas flow piped from Gorgon and Jansz about 65km and 130km, respectively, north-west of the island. A solvent – activated methyldiethanolamine – is used to remove carbon dioxide, as well as trace amounts of other substances. After passing through a compressor, the CO₂ – now an oily substance – will be piped through a 7km underground line to one of three “drill centres” and injected through one of nine CO₂ wells to gradually dissolve into the saline aquifer. A time-lapse-based monitoring system involving observation wells and seismic surveys will be used to check on the movement of carbon dioxide against a baseline survey carried out before construction started.
According to Chevron, “the Project plans to inject between 3.4 and 4 million tonnes of reservoir carbon dioxide each year. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the Gorgon Project by approximately 40 percent.”
The carbon capture and storage project (CCS) is part of the global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, beyond just coal-fired vernation, into gas processing, steelmaking and other industries. This is the final part of Chevron’s latest project surrounding the Gorgon works, with LNG shipments starting in March last year and the commencement of domestic gas sales into the WA market last December.
Chevron currently owns and operates Australia’s largest natural gas project in the Gorgon LNG plant which is housed on the island. Throughout the life span of Gorgon and Chevron’s other major project Wheatstone, they will contribute a total of around half a trillion dollars of GDP, equivalent to the size of the New South Wales’ economy.