Viva Energy has announced key partnership agreements with global energy giants to cooperate in the development of the Geelong Energy Hub, which could see green hydrogen production and solar energy facilities established alongside a potential gas import terminal in Victoria.
Viva Energy announced on Monday that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with two project partners to transform the site of the company’s Geelong oil refinery, securing the involvement of international energy giants Engie and Mitsui.
The ageing Geelong refinery currently provides the bulk of Victoria’s liquid fuel supplies, but there has been growing speculation that the refinery will close after the demand for transport fuels collapsed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the centre of the company’s plans to renew the Geelong site, including the creation of a new ‘energy hub,’ is Viva Energy’s plans for a new gas import terminal, which is set to deliver new supplies of gas into the Victorian and South East Australian gas markets. However, it will be competing against a handful of other potential LNG import terminals.
Viva says the energy hub could be paired with an onsite 27MW solar farm – plus battery storage – and it will also explore the opportunities for the production of green fuels, including hydrogen.
Viva Energy had previously announced that it would incorporate similar facilities as part of its Corio oil refinery in Victoria, which the company said was part of a larger investment in low carbon energy technologies in the wake of Covid-19.
“We are very pleased to have such strong partners with experience and capability in LNG terminals and gas markets to assist us in continuing to fast-track our project through to a final investment decision,” Viva Energy CEO Scott Wyatt said.
“The project will bring new gas supply and competition to our domestic gas markets and is an important part of our wider vision to further develop Geelong as an Energy Hub for Victoria, and to support the transition of Victoria to lower carbon energies.”
While the main purpose of the Geelong Energy Hub is to provide the capability to regasify LNG being delivered to Victoria, the hub could also include a hydrogen electrolyser, to provide a supply of zero emissions hydrogen produced using the onsite renewables, and through power purchase agreements.
Two consortiums have been established by Viva Energy to support the development of the energy hub, with a consortium including energy traders Vitol and gas infrastructure company VTTI, operating alongside the Engie-Mitsui consortium.
“Partnerships are an important part of accelerating the transition to carbon-neutral economy,” Engie Australia and New Zealand COE Augustin Honorat said. “This project has the potential to leverage Engie’s and Mitsui’s global experience to help develop the Geelong Energy Hub and provide residential and business customers with cleaner and more affordable energy supplied by efficient infrastructure.”
Gas companies have been looking at options for boosting the supply of gas into Victoria, with AGL Energy also exploring the possibility of establishing a gas import terminal on the state’s east coast. The gas import terminal plans were met with strong opposition from environmental groups, arguing that AGL’s plans to use Westernport Bay would put vital wetlands under threat and that viable alternatives to importing gas had been overlooked.