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No More Gas eNews May 2023

Catch up on what's been happening as the No More Gas collective keeps kicking gas!

Hello to you our wonderful readers and welcome to the latest edition of the No More Gas eNews.

As predicted in our last missive, the gas industry looks like they’re going for broke – and it’s ordinary householders, the environment and the economy that will pay the price.

The federal budget has dropped with the Treasurer announcing a gas policy that the Australian Petroleum Producer & Exploration Association love so much they’re asking the opposition to support it. Unsurprisingly the Greens and Teals are giving it a good kicking. And of course I had some words (from 14:00) about this missed opportunity to start the long overdue windback of the gas industry. At the same time there are encouraging measures to help homes (as long as you own them) to fuel switch.

In the meantime I and representatives from a number of groups from tiny to national went to Parliament House in Canberra to talk about the dangers and basic ridiculousness of seismic blasting in the Southern Ocean.

There’s so much more going on and not quite enough funding to cover it all so please donate here if you can because this work doesn’t happen without your help! This is actually true.

Federal budget

Gas industry finally going to pay some tax

SOME being the operative word. After years of paying basically no tax whatsoever, APPEA members will finally be required to pay 40% tax on 10% of their operative costs. Woo. This will bring in $2.9 billion dollars of the more than $11 billion that they have received each year in federal subsidies and offsets. The head of APPEA, Samantha McCulloch, called on the Federal Opposition to support the measures which should tell you everything you need to know.

We're much more pleased to report that the government has started taking the at least $60 billion offshore decommissioning crisis seriously. This country faces a huge cleanup bill in coming years as aging offshore oil and gas platforms and pipelines need to be removed from the ocean. The Resources Minister, Madeleine King, announced a new $4.5m fund to produce what she calls a 'road map' for offshore decommissioning, including recycling. FoE has been stridently lobbying for rig recycling centres to be built in Australia to follow world's best practice in the cleaning and recycling of what amounts to about 14 Sydney Harbour Bridges worth of steel. The WA government has already dedicated $5m to a feasibility study into a rig recycling centre for the Pilbara, though the biggest immediate cleanup job is in Victoria's Bass Strait, where Esso needs to remove 10 offshore platforms.

Speaking of offshore platforms...

Northern Endeavour

The federal government has announced plans to dump undisclosed amounts of radioactive material, oil and other toxins into the Timor Sea, just 155km from the Indonesian coast. The plan would see the massive floating oil and gas platform Northern Endeavour, which the government was left to clean up after its owner went into liquidation, towed through Indonesian waters to an “undisclosed location” in Asia to be scrapped. The plan acknowledges the risk of a major oil leak happening during this operation. It appears the department is trying to avoid any scrutiny by quietly posting a call for submissions on the plan in the days leading up to the budget — with a 10 working day deadline. No stakeholders were notified, and no consultations have taken place. Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) is demanding an urgent extension of that deadline, so stakeholders have time to digest the hundreds of pages of scientific documents, and to allow time for a proper public debate about the plans. Our demands were covered by the ABC and the Jakarta Post.

The great CCS joke is neither great, nor a joke

The Australian Resources Minister, Madeleine King, has pledged to back carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a way to combat climate change at the same time as the US government is slamming it for being unproven. In a major speech to an oil and gas industry conference in Adelaide, Madeleine King has pledged to back the mythical technology as a way of abating the emissions being created by Australia’s massive export industry. The minister has reportedly told the conference: “Perhaps the single biggest opportunity for emissions reduction in the energy resources sector is through carbon capture and storage (CCS). “CCS represents an opportunity for Australia if we get it right. The will is there. The know-how is there.”
“To this end, and in recognition of the need to scale up CCS, the Government will shortly commence public consultation on a new round of greenhouse gas storage acreage,” King said.

But her faith that the unproven (and so far unsuccessful) technology comes at the same time the US Climate Envoy and former presidential candidate John Kerry publicly denounced CCS as a pipe dream that was distracting the world from actual climate action, saying he had “serious questions.” John Kerry told the Associated Press: “…we don’t have [CCS] at-scale yet, and we can’t sit here and just pretend we’re going to automatically have something we don’t have today. Because we might not. It might not work.” “What they’re banking on is that they’re going to be able to do the emissions capture,” Kerry said, “I have some serious questions about whether it will be price competitive.”

Growing the No More Gas collective

At our first supporter meeting for the year we were joined by an additional four members, some of whom will form a working group to tackle Esso’s planned ethane power generation plant at Hastings, as well as adding a bit of support for some of our existing work. A big warm welcome to our new members and welcome in anticipation to anyone who plans to join us for our next supporter meeting:

Online 6:30pm Wednesday 7 June

Find out what we’re up to, what’s happening in the whacky world of gas and how you can get involved.

If you’re not able to attend but still want to support our work, we rely on donations to stay active across so many areas of gas interest in Victoria. If you can please make a donation. All donations over $2 are tax deductible and all are valuable.

Beach energy start gas production

After a false start where their pipelines failed hydropressure tests, Beach Energy have started to produce gas out of the Otway Basin from their Thylacine wells. The gas produced is shipped to the Otways processing plant before entering the gas distribution network for domestic and commercial use across Victoria (less the allowable 4% leakage that our distribution system is expected to add to our climate burden). The only onshore drill in Victoria, this horizontal pipe runs from the north of the Port Campbell National Park into the ocean just a handful of kilometres from the Twelve Apostles Marine Park.

The No More Gas campaign is determined to disrupt the social licence for further offshore gas exploration through seismic blasting - more about that below.

Minister compels Viva Energy to provide more information

On 6 March Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny announced her decision that she were unable to grant or refuse approval for the Viva Energy Floating Regassification and Storage Unit proposed for Corio Bay near Geelong without more information. Specifically she has required that the energy company:

  • provide an assessment of the environmental effects of the project on the marine environment, noise, air quality and Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • consolidate and integrate the results of the supplementary Environmental Effects Statements studies with the key outcomes of the EES studies and
  • facilitate third party involvement in the process

Huge congratulations to Geelong Sustainability and ACF Geelong for their steadfast work in informing and representing the concerns of their local community. We also acknowledge the huge amount of work and the frustration of those who have made this campaign the galvanising moment it has become that the fight continues. We hope that when the decision is finally handed down that all the community’s hard work has paid off.

Assisted dying bill Victoria debate: 'C U Next Tuesday' text message  reveals euthanasia anger | Herald Sun

The Seismic Seven storm Canberra!

Friends of the Earth facilitate a regular fortnightly meeting to push back against seismic blasting projects in the Southern Ocean off the west Victorian coastline.

At the end of March seven delegates travelled to Federal Parliament to raise concerns about the TGS/Schlumberger seismic exploration from the context of Traditional Owner concerns about marine life, local concerns in Victoria and King Island, and impacts on the fishing industry in the Southern Ocean. We also rang the bell on reiterated advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s AR6 Synthesis Report that we cannot afford a single new gas or oil project if we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change

Representing Otways Climate Emergency Action Network (OCEAN), Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective (SOPEC), Surfrider Foundation, Beyond Gas Network, Tasmanian Fishers and of course Friends of the Earth we met with MPs from Labor, Liberal, Greens, the Teals and other independents we described the impacts on fisheries, the marine environment as a whole and the unfeasibility of any further gas exploration in the Southern Ocean. It was a strong moment of inter-organisational solidarity and we were encouraged by the multipartisan concern for these proposals, particularly the nasty one from…

Seismic 7 storm Canberra

TGS/Schlumberger (aka SLB)

On Tuesday 21 March I attended a briefing organised by our friends at Otways Climate Emergency Action Network (OCEAN) to learn more about the scope of the still massive (albeit reduced from 7.7 to 5.5 million hectares in size) seismic blasting project proposed for the Southern Ocean. Over 25 attendees listened to TGS – Schlumberger were notably absent from the consultation - and environmental consultants SLR describe how they propose to carry out blasting 220db of noise every 10-12 seconds for months in a whale migration corridor without damaging marine life. The half hour briefing was followed by a very robust Q&A session which demonstrated that the concerns of attendees were not in any way allayed by the briefing; a unanimous vote of opposition to the project ended the event.

If you are interested in knowing more about the scope of this project and the local pushback to seismic blasting I encourage you to check out the OCEAN website which is a fantastic source of information, regularly updated.

Beach Energy

Meanwhile, Beach Energy have reached out to offer a briefing about their projects which include a horizontal drill under Port Campbell National Park into the ocean next to the Twelve Apostles Marine Park. Their representative (who it turns out is one of our subscribers!) informs me that I had some details incorrect in my last eNews bulletin so I’ll be keen to update and clarify my understanding of their projects and report this back to you, esteemed readership.


Right now they are engaging in public consultations about a number of offshore fossil gas projects so we invite you to find out more and register as a person of interest for the purposes of public consultation.

And Regia

Next cab off the rank will be Regia with their seismic blasting proposal on the Otway Basin off the coast of Western Victoria between Port Campbell and Warrnambool.

If you are interested in being included in consultation by Beach Energy, Regia or ConocoPhillips please reply to this email and I’ll do what I can to organise a briefing at a time that suits everyone.

Remaking the gas distribution Code of Practice

At a state level, the Essential Services Commission requested community input into their update of the gas distribution Code of Practice, which sets out consumer protections and obligations gas distributors must follow in operating distribution systems in Victoria. It regulates:

  • the operation of the distribution system
  • connections and augmentation
  • curtailment, disconnection and reconnection
  • metering requirements
  • life support equipment
  • deemed distribution contract requirements
  • customer complaint handling.

Yes, it seems terribly boring but it is in these fine details that we are able to swing government thinking on key issues affecting the climate and energy. Our submission to the last Essential Services Commission consultation on the amount of gas allowed to be leaked from the pipeline system led to the ESC recognising the role that gas plays as a climate accelerant and contemplating what it would take to shut down the gas distribution system statewide. We have since seen consideration of this included in state government thinking.

Our submission to this latest review has advocated for all new connections to be charged a substantial cost to cover the cost of disconnections, and for all gas meter abolishment fees to be discarded entirely.

An exposed cast iron gas pipe in the park across the road from my house

[IMAGE: Exposed cast iron gas pipe in Ballam Park, Frankston. Photo credit, Freja Leonard]

In the media

Jeff Waters and I have had a few media mentions in the past month. Like this:

I issued a media release in response to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s latest release of the Gas Statement of Opportunities. Long story short, we’re disappointed by the shift in emphasis from demand management to supply increase of gas and the apparent adoption of Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA to their friends) talking points by governments. The release was picked up by a few smaller media outlets and I did a small grab for the 2SM news that day.

Media mentions:

Media release AEMO GSOO 

Thanks for your continued support and if you love what we do please consider making a much-appreciated donation.

For the Earth,

Freja Leonard

No More Gas campaign coordinator

We run on the smell of a (vegetable) oily rag - please support our work!

I acknowledge that wherever we are we are living and working on stolen land and in deep respect of First Nations Peoples everywhere. This newsletter written and posted from Wurundjeri-Woi Wurrung land in the Kulin nation.

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