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Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

The Age:

Energy giant AGL has pushed back the start date on its environmentally contentious proposal to build a huge floating gas import terminal in Western Port, south-east of Melbourne, by at least a year. The company now expects to begin piping gas from the terminal and into the domestic market in early 2023, having previously said it would begin in the 2021 financial year.

The $250 million proposal involves permanently docking a giant gas storage ship to a jetty at Crib Point and connecting it to a 55-kilometre pipeline that would run through Mornington Peninsula farmland to Pakenham.

The environmental impact of the terminal – called a floating storage and regasification unit – and the pipeline are being assessed through an environment effects statement triggered by the Andrews government last year. State government MPs have expressed support for the proposal since AGL announced it in 2017 but have also said they will be guided by the findings of the environmental assessment.

If the project is approved, liquefied natural gas will be imported to Crib Point from overseas and from other parts of Australia, converted back into gas on board the Esperanza, then piped into the main network. AGL is one of a number of energy companies seeking to build a gas import terminal in Australia.

The company has argued the terminal would make gas supply more certain, at a time when the Australian Energy Market Operator is forecasting potential supply shortfalls from 2024. But Bruce Robertson, an investment analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, argued the project was unjustifiable both on economic and environmental grounds.

Mr Robertson also argued it made no economic sense for Australia to import gas, given it exports almost twice as much natural gas as it consumes domestically. “Importing gas is possibly the most wasteful thing you could do in terms of energy – it’s just pure wasted energy on a massive scale,” Mr Robertson said.

More: AGL delays Victorian gas import hub over environmental concerns

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