Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The SMH has an article pondering how much of the investment being made into the Gorgon gas project will be spent in Australia - Gor-gone?.

It has been dubbed Western Australia's own stimulus package. However, the value of most contracts awarded so far in the $43 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas juggernaut will either head overseas or cannot be guaranteed to include Australian content and local jobs.

A BusinessDay analysis of the $10 billion or so in contracts awarded to date shows more than a quarter will definitely head overseas, prompting calls by unions to maximise the value of the gas project to benefit its owners, the Australian public.

The Australian Workers Union says it will monitor the flow of contracts. Another $2 billion worth are expected to be announced before Christmas. ''We think projects like Gorgon should not just be beneficial for resources workers in the north-west but for manufacturing workers on the east coast as well,'' said Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union.

''No one is disputing that Gorgon is big, and there will always be things that we don't make here. But, where possible, Australian processes operated by Australian workers should take precedence in delivering this major Australian project.''

The large numbers attached to Australia's largest resource development can make you giddy. The operator, Chevron, and the joint venture partners ExxonMobil and Shell will tap into the 40 trillion cubic feet of gas in the greater Gorgon field off the north-western coast. About 120 million tonnes of greenhouse gas will be pumped into aquifers under Barrow Island, resulting in a saving of 40 per cent in emissions.

A total of 15 million tonnes of LNG will be produced each year at Barrow Island from 2014 for the 30-year life of the project. About 83 per cent of that has already been sold through sales and purchase agreements. Chevron says it will spend $33 billion on local goods and services.

A report by ACIL Tasman on the economic benefits of Gorgon puts its contribution to Australia's gross domestic product at $64 billion and revenue to the state and federal governments at about $40 billion.

At its peak Gorgon is expected to generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs - figures Chevron says are conservative. It seems unnecessary to pump up the already colossal figures but the Gorgon spin machine, and that of the Federal Government, has been in overdrive.

Take, for instance, the hundreds of billions of dollars attached to the off-take agreements. If those are to believed, then it assumes that LNG prices will rise from current levels of about $400 a tonne to somewhere north of $1100. Analysts forecast the long-term price of LNG to reach about $600 a tonne.

A $50 billion price tag was attached to ExxonMobil's 2.25 million tonnes a year deal with PetroChina, announced in August. But even PetroChina scoffed at whether it would amount to that much over the 20 years of the deal.

''There is no such conception [$50 billion] in the total trade value of the agreement as some media reported'' PetroChina's parent, China National Petroleum, said at the time.

But the question does arise if gas prices were to almost triple. And that price is usually one-sixth of the oil price, so does that mean petrol prices are also set to zoom? Perhaps that is why the Government is reluctant to break down these numbers.

Details of the carbon capture and storage part of the project, set to be a ''world demonstration of CCS technology'' are also sketchy.


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