Comments by Forrest MHR Nola Marino have put a dampener on the South West Hub carbon capture and storage project.
Mrs Marino believes the project is unlikely to go ahead even though the seismic research operation in the Harvey shire — on hold for the winter — will proceed.
But South West Hub spokesman Brendan Gaynor claims the Harvey project is on track and is the most likely of the Australian CCS projects being investigated to get across the line.
“The Harvey site has been identified as having a high likelihood of having the appropriate geology to support carbon storage at great depth,” he said.
“The Harvey proposal is the most advanced in the feasibility studies, ahead of projects in Victoria and Queensland.”
A $500 million cut to the carbon capture and storage project in the recently announced Federal Budget has added to the uncertainty of a controversial venture which has been dogged by criticism that it is an unproven science, highly expensive and not a viable option when compared to other methods of carbon emissions amelioration.
Mrs Marino said the Budget cuts were just the latest round which had seen the overall budget for the program halved in three years.
“Given the huge financial cost of carbon and capture storage projects it is unlikely that the remaining funding would fund the construction and operation of even one CCS project,” she said.
“I understand the research phase of the project, including the seismic studies, will continue under the auspices of the WA State Government.
“A future Liberal (Federal) Government will get rid of the carbon tax, which will change the financial imperatives of the project and impact on its feasibility.
“It has not been demonstrated that carbon capture and storage is physically possible in Harvey and it is not an economic proposition.
"The Liberal Direct Action Plan will fund carbon reduction programs across Australia in a commercial manner by supporting the most cost-effective carbon reduction programs.
“Carbon storage deep underground under Harvey would have to stack up as a cost-effective option.
“Given current estimates of the cost of CCS it is hard to believe this project will stack up.”
Dr Gaynor said while the CCS program had received a $500 million cut in the Federal budget, the remaining $1 billion would still ensure all four projects were able to complete feasibility studies and one project would continue beyond the feasibility stage.
“CCS has been successfully applied for many years in Norway and is associated with enhanced oil recovery projects in North America and Canada,” Dr Gaynor said.
“The outcome of the feasibility study will determine if the project is technically possible and at what cost.
“The proposed staged work plan is an orderly and appropriate way to progress the project and enables local residents to be fully informed of what is proposed and the outcome of work as it moves forward.
“It is clearly too early to speculate on the economic viability.”
Dr Gaynor said carbon capturing would allow carbon dioxide emissions from South West industries to be safely stored underground.
“A carbon hub in the region will mean South West industries are fulfilling a requirement to address emissions and helping the State contribute to the national target of 5 per cent reduction of emissions by 2020.
“It is also critical for the future expansion of industry in the Collie region South West in what will be a carbon constrained environment.”