Construction of a $16 billion dollar project that will transform Santos officially began yesterday.
In a ceremony on Curtis Island at Gladstone in Queensland, Santos chief executive David Knox led South Australia’s biggest company on to a new section of the international stage.
“Today marks an historic milestone for the Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas (GLNG) project,” Knox said.
“Curtis Island is the engine room for the whole project. This is where coal seam gas from Queensland’s world-class fields will be converted to LNG and exported to Asia.
“The growing demand for natural gas in Asia is driven by the region’s need for cleaner, secure, safe and reliable energy and that’s what GLNG will provide.”
GLNG is a joint venture between Santos (30 per cent) and three of the world’s largest LNG companies – Malaysia’s Petronas (27.5 per cent), French multinational Total (27.5 per cent) and South Korea’s KOGAS (15 per cent).
First exports are scheduled for 2015 with estimates GLNG will supply about 11 per cent of Korea’s domestic gas needs and 9 per cent of Malaysia’s gas.
Prime minister Julia Gillard backed the project.
“When I was recently overseas in Japan, in South Korea and in China, all of the talk was of Australia’s ability to supply the energy sources of the future and particularly in South Korea, there was direct talk about this project,” she said. “This is part of Australia and the world moving to cleaner energy sources. LNG is a cleaner energy source and as we transition our economy from being a high emissions economy to a clean energy economy, LNG will be an important part of our future and an important part of the world’s future.”
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said her state was on the verge of a new gas age with GLNG creating 6000 jobs.
However, GLNG opponents are concerned about the chemicals used in the extraction process, groundwater contamination, wastewater and the degradation of farm lands.
Many farmers have joined a Lock the Gate campaign to keep gas companies off their land.
Alliance president Drew Hutton called for a moratorium “until we can have a proper assessment of the human health and environmental impacts”.
Greens spokeswoman Libby Connors warned of marine damage from dredging for the Santos plant and another being built by British Gas on Curtis Island.