13/11/2007 - 22:00

Woodside deal a CO2 shift

13/11/2007 - 22:00

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Botanist turned CEO, Andrew Grant, believes there has been a sea change in attitude to environmental issues from corporates in Western Australia.

Botanist turned CEO, Andrew Grant, believes there has been a sea change in attitude to environmental issues from corporates in Western Australia.

And the head of carbon offsets specialist CO2 Ltd has the evidence to back this up – last week’s $100 million deal between his company and Perth-based Woodside Petroleum Ltd.

The deal, Mr Grant claims, makes his company – with a market capitalisation of around $95 million – a global leader in the carbon sequestration business.

“Here more than anywhere else, business has shifted in the past 12 months,” Mr Grant said.

With global warming a major issue and WA’s resources-heavy economy a big emitter of carbon, it’s perhaps not surprising that the stars have aligned.

Mr Grant said the visit last year by former US vice-president Al Gore, combined with other high-profile events such as the drought, the Stern Report and Rupert Murdoch’s decision to change the climate change stance of his media empire have resonated in WA.

“It has a big impact here,” Mr Grant said.

“WA is probably going to double its emissions profile over a 10 to15-year period.”

LNG plants are big emitters, with the North West Shelf the single biggest producer of greenhouse gases in the state.

Coinciding with Woodside’s development of the $12 billion Pluto LNG project, it will invest in oil mallee plantations, which CO2 develops for no other purpose than as carbon sinks.

The deal allows for $25 million to be spent over the next two years and an option for $75 million more.

The plantings will take place in NSW in the first year and WA after that, using land in the Wheatbelt leased from farmers.

Mr Grant said the shift in thinking at business level coincided with similar changes at a state government level.

“A couple of years ago WA was quite silent in terms of carbon emissions in the regulatory environment,” he said.

“That has changed in the past 12 months. New projects increasingly, as you have to have ministerial consent, require some sort of binding targets or actions.”

Mr Grant said Woodside had a very clear view of the future in its strategy.

“The really clever thing about Woodside is that gas is a favourable fuel in terms of its greenhouse signature but they are also moving to lower that (signature).”

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