Viva Energy’s Geelong floating gas terminal plan sparks strong opposition from residents

Greater Geelong City Council said there had been massive community feedback regarding safety issues, including the risks of collision, explosions and the frequency of gas container shipping.

Forwood and Tadmore are concerned at how the terminal could affect the bay their schoolmates use for rowing and boating. They said Victoria should be supporting the global push to avoid the worst ravages of climate change by rapidly ending reliance on fossil fuels, including gas.

A design sketch for Viva’s Geelong LNG terminal project.Credit: Supplied

“It’s irritating and frustrating to see how older people’s decisions and actions are destroying the future for young people,” Forwood said.

“Young people are only a third of our population but all of our future.”

Victoria is Australia’s largest consumer of residential gas, which accounts for about 15 per cent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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While the use of gas to generate electricity is declining, its use in residential homes and commercial settings has remained relatively stable.

A spokesperson for Viva Energy said many of the issues raised in public submissions had been thoroughly assessed and included in its environmental effects statement, including studies of marine ecology, local amenity and safety.

“We are confident that … we can safely build and operate a new gas terminal, while minimizing impacts on the community and the environment,” the spokesperson said.

Environment Victoria says the gas terminal is incompatible with Victoria’s target to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

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“Viva has decades past gas consumption will remain high until 2040, which is the same as saying the gas sector will do nothing to cut pollution for two,” said spokesman Greg Foyster. “That’s completely unacceptable.”

The Viva proposal is one of two LNG terminals on the cards for Victoria, after a plan from power company AGL for a terminal in Western Port Bay was rejected on environmental grounds. Vopak LNG is studying the feasibility of a similar facility in Port Phillip Bay, offshore at North Avalon.

South-east Australia could face gas shortages as soon as the 2023 winter because of delays in a planned import terminal in NSW and falling output in the Bass Strait, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator. These could be avoided by using less gas in power generation on cold days and accelerating the switch to electricity, it said.

Later this year, the Victorian government will release its gas substitution plan, mapping the transition away from gas. It is expected to include more efficient use of gas, electrification, reduced fugitive emissions and increased use of alternatives such as hydrogen and biogas.

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LNG is a fossil fuel and greenhouse gas, and producing and burning it drives climate change. Energy production is the largest contributor to Australia’s carbon emissions, accounting for 33 per cent of total emissions.

A significant report by the International Energy Agency last year warned investors must avoid funding new oil and gas fields for the world to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

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