'Barossa Gas Development Project' Stuck On A Rock...Filling a Bottomless Vessel
'Barossa Gas Development Project' Stuck On A Rock...Filling a Bottomless Vessel
  • BK Min
  • 승인 2023.05.22 16:20
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▶Australia's Pro-climate Policies "Cost Nearly USD 759 Million" to Implement
▶Australian Government Accelerates Pro-climate Policies...Cuts CCS Subsidies, Revises Safeguard Mechanisms
The Barossa gas field
The Barossa Gas Field

The Barossa gas field project, which SK E&S is promoting in Australia along with the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Ksure(Korea Trade Insurance Corporation), and the Industrial Bank of Korea, is facing difficulties as the Australian government introduces legislation and policies for climate response. In addition, Australian civil society organizations have called for the approval of the USD 600 million public financing to be withdrawn and thoroughly reviewed.  

An Australian court has issued a halt order on a license revocation lawsuit filed by local indigenous people, citing procedural issues. As business conditions continue to deteriorate, it is still being determined whether the Export-Import Bank will extend the validity of the financial support, which is scheduled to expire at the end of May.  

On July 17th, The Australia Institute released a report, "The New Safeguard Mechanism and the Barossa Gas Field Project. The report estimates that up to A$987.5 million in additional costs will be incurred to reduce carbon emissions at the Barossa gas field under the Safeguard mechanism. Australian government amended this federal law in March.

The New Safeguard Mechanism and the Barossa Gas Project.  

The report analyzed that the cost "represents an additional 20 percent of the total project cost of the Barossa gas field," adding that there is uncertainty about the recovery of the investment by public financial institutions in the country that have committed to providing KRW 800 billion in financing for the project.

Under the safeguards, newly developed gas fields must achieve "zero" reservoir carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere from gas extraction and reduce other direct gas field-related greenhouse gas emissions by 4.9% per year. The Barossa project has the highest reservoir carbon dioxide content of any gas field in Australia, which means it will be more costly and burdensome to offset GHG emissions.

The Australian Institute calculated this additional cost based on the GHG emissions in the business plan submitted by SK E&S and others to regulators. It estimated that 13.16 million tons of emissions would need to be reduced over five years, including 9.1 million tons of reservoir emissions, assuming gas extraction begins in 2025.

The safeguards stipulate that GHG reductions must be achieved using carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) or offsets from the existing voluntary Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) or new ones created under the safeguards mechanism.  

This report assumes that all emissions from the Barossa gas field are offset through the purchase of credits, given that the CCS project is currently being deferred. Current allowance prices (A$38 per tonne) would result in an offset cost of A$500 million. At a cap price of A$75 per ton, the cost of offsets would rise to A$987.5 billion.

This report is not the first analysis to suggest that the Australian safeguards will make the Barossa gas field unprofitable. In February, German-based think tank Climate Analytics estimated that the Barossa gas field would be negatively impacted by 2.5 to 5.6 percent and up to 10 to 11 percent due to the regulations.  

A change in the Australian government's stance on CCS projects is also creating a negative outlook. Last October, the Australian government cut A$250 million in federal subsidies for the CCS industry. It also switched to providing limited grants to hard-to-abate sectors without immediate alternatives, such as steel and cement.

"While the cost estimates in this study are limited to 2030, the real costs of the project will continue to be felt well beyond that date," said Rod Campbell, research director of the report, "demonstrating that new investment in large-scale polluters is precarious at this time."

"The Barossa gas field, which has the highest carbon dioxide content of any gas field in Australia, is bound to bear the brunt of the Australian government's emissions reductions," said Climate Solutions researcher So Min Kim. "Public financial institutions should revoke their approvals and review their financial support from scratch in light of the changed conditions."

Australian civic groups have also opposed the Barossa gas project. On March 20th, Australian environmental organizations rallied in front of the South Korean Embassy in Australia to fight the Barossa gas project and call South Korean public financial institutions to divest.

On March 24th, the Australia Beyond Gas Network gathered at the Korean Embassy in Melbourne to criticize Korean public financial institutions. The group delivered a letter to Consul General Lee Chang-hoon and President Yoon Seok-Yeol to voice their opposition to gas projects that destroy indigenous lands and accelerate the climate crisis.

By-BK Min, KDFN kdf@kdfnews.com

The summary of this article is as follows

■'바로사(Barossa) 가스전 개발' 호주 환경규제 세이프가드 직격탄...'밑 빠진 독에 물 붓기'
SK E&S가 수출입은행, 무역보험공사, 산업은행 등과 함께 호주에서 추진 중인 바로사 가스전 사업이 호주 정부의 기후대응을 위한 법안과 정책이 도입되면서 난관에 봉착했다. 여기에 호주 시민단체마저 8000억 원 규모의 공적금융 지원에 대해 승인 결정을 철회하고 전면 재검토해야 한다는 의견까지 제기했다.  

현재 호주 법원은 현지 원주민이 제기한 인허가 취소 소송에 대해 절차상 문제를 이유로 사업 중단 명령을 내렸다. 이어 사업 여건이 계속 악화되는 가운데 오는 5월 말 만료 예정인 금융 지원 유효기간을 수출입은행이 연장할지도 미지수다.  

17일 호주연구소(The Australia Institute)는 ‘새로운 세이프가드 메커니즘(Safeguard)과 바로사 가스전 프로젝트’ 보고서를 발간했다. 이 보고서는 지난 3월 개정한 연방법인 세이프가드 메커니즘에 따라 바로사 가스전에서 탄소배출 저감을 위해 최대 9억8750만 호주달러에 이르는 추가 비용이 들 것으로 전망했다. 

이어 해당 비용은 “바로사 가스전 총 사업비의 20%에 달하는 추가 비용이 발생하는 것”이라고 분석하면서, 이 사업에 8000억 원 규모 금융을 지원하기로 한 국내 공적 금융기관들의 투자금 회수에도 불확실성이 커졌다고 내다봤다. 

기후솔루션 김소민 연구원은 “호주 내 가스전 중에서도 이산화탄소 함량이 높은 바로사 가스전은 이번 호주 정부의 감축 규제의 직격탄을 맞을 수밖에 없다"며 "공적 금융기관은 바뀐 여건을 고려해서 지금이라도 승인을 취소하고 금융지원을 처음부터 다시 검토해야 할 것" 이라고 전했다. 

바로사 가스전 사업에 반대하는 호주 시민사회단체들의 활동도 이어지고 있다. 지난달 20일 호주 환경단체는 호주 대한민국 대사관 앞에서 집회를 열고, 바로사 가스전 사업에 반대하며 한국 공적 금융기관들의 투자 중단을 촉구했다.

같은 달 24일에도 호주 비욘드 가스 네트워크(Australia Beyond Gas Network)는 국내 공적 금융기관을 비판하려 호주 멜버른 한국 대사관 앞에서 모였다. 단체는 이창훈 총영사 및 윤석열 대통령 앞으로 서한을 전달해 원주민들의 터전을 파괴하고 기후위기를 가속하는 가스전 사업에 반대의 목소리를 전했다.

사진=기후솔루션 연합뉴스
박홍규 기자 kdf@kdfnews.com  


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