Sponsorship deal to clear the air

20/08/2009 - 00:00

WESFARMERS Energy has recently signed a major two-year sponsorship agreement with the Asthma Foundation of WA.

PARTNERSHIP: JOHN GUMMER (LEFT) AND BRAD LOWSON HAVE JOINED FORCES TO CLEAN UP THE STATE’S AIR. PHOTO: GRANT CURRALL

WESFARMERS Energy has recently signed a major two-year sponsorship agreement with the Asthma Foundation of WA.

The partnership is with Wesfarmers' Evol LNG brand, part of the company's Kleenheat Gas business, and comes just two months after the energy giant opened its Kwinana liquefied natural gas plant.

The plant and associated infrastructure was commissioned in 2008 and is capable of producing 175 tonnes of LNG per day, or the equivalent of 240,000 litres of diesel per day, supplying the diesel fuel alternative for the domestic heavy duty vehicle and remote power generation markets.

Asthma Foundation chief executive John Gummer told WA Business News that while the funding would significantly help the not-for-profit organisation's coffers, the Evol LNG partnership also represented an alignment of values and objectives.

"The issue is air quality," Mr Gummer said.

"We need partnerships with organisations for revenue, of course, but there needs to be an alignment of objectives; we need to align with the company's objectives and they need to align with ours, and LNG is a step in the right direction in improving air quality, so we both have that same goal."

Mr Gummer said the new partnership would assist with funding the ongoing provision of asthma services and medical research throughout the state.

These services include training and educating the community to manage their asthma and understand what triggers an attack, and to improve their living environments.

Mr Gummer said while LNG offered air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions, it had several benefits over traditional fuels including lower cost, less volatile fuel pricing, reduced engine noise, and supply security.

Recent federal government testing also indicated that an LNG-fuelled engine produced 25 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent diesel engine.

Evol LNG manager Brad Lowson told WA Business News the Murdoch-based company shared several key goals with the Asthma Foundation, which made the partnership ideal.

"Both the Asthma Foundation and Evol LNG are focused on improving air quality for Western Australians and Evol LNG is committed to supporting communities in which it operates," Mr Lowson said.

"The Asthma Foundation of WA is all about promoting a clean and healthy air environment; this is a goal that Evol LNG is assisting in by encouraging the use of LNG as an alternative fuel in heavy vehicles."

Mr Lowson said the prevalence of asthma in Australia was another reason why the company had chosen to support the foundation.

Looking for growth opportunities in gas and power, Wesfarmers began investigating LNG for the heavy-duty vehicle and industrial markets in 1998, commissioning a pilot plant at Kwinana in 2001 following a successful LNG study tour of overseas markets.

At the time, market conditions were favourable for an alternative fuel and, given existing organisational capabilities in gas production, transport logistics and gas distribution infrastructure, Wesfarmers saw an opportunity to develop an LNG business in Australia.

The first customer refueller was installed at Sands Fridge Lines by the end of 2002, servicing its line haul requirements.

In September 2006, Wesfarmers Energy announced a $137 million investment in the domestic LNG project at Kwinana, adjacent to the existing Wesfarmers LPG facility.

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