Pilot Energy's Mid West hydrogen hunt set to get the tick from local Shire

Jake DietschGeraldton Guardian
An offshore hydrogen project near Denmark.
Camera IconAn offshore hydrogen project near Denmark. Credit: Tiffany Kennedy/WA News

An oil and gas company eager to break into the booming renewable sector wants to explore a vast swathe of the Mid West coast.

In a report to the Chapman Valley council, staff have advised councillors to support Pilot Energy’s game-changing hydrogen investigation.

The report recommends telling the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage that council has no objection to granting Pilot Energy the rights to do investigatory work into the development of an offshore wind farm for hydrogen energy.

But the Shire does not want the license to exceed five years and opposes it being granted “on an exclusivity arrangement” and instead wants the state to reserve the ability to accept offers from other companies.

Staff are also urging councillors to advise the Department to ensure activities don’t interfere with the Oakajee Port and Industrial Estate and associated Infrastructure Corridor project.

The Department wrote to the Shire earlier this month, advising them the proposed licence would allow investigations into the development of offshore wind farms in relation to the company’s Mid-West Renewables project.

“The Department understands that the Project contemplates the development of offshore wind, onshore wind, and onshore solar energy generation which may result in the production of renewable hydrogen,” they said.

Pilot’s investigations are expected to include environmental, geological and cultural heritage surveys, as well as geotechnical engineering investigations of ground conditions, including hydrographic surveys, geophysical surveys and met ocean surveys.

The area they will study stretches from Green Head in the Shire of Coorow in the south to Woolawar Gully and to the north in the Shire of Northampton.

The area will also include a marine reserve — more than 29,000ha in size — that comprises the entire Shire of Chapman Valley coast.

It will also extend southward into the offshore area of the City of Greater Geraldton and include the Geraldton Port.

In a statement to shareholders last year, Pilot Energy revealed its plans to begin a feasibility study that would see it combine its oil and gas assets with established energy infrastructure to become “a leading developer of competitive clean energy projects in WA.”

“The Feasibility Studies are designed to assess blue hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects that can integrate with existing assets and infrastructure to deliver competitive clean energy,’” the company said.

The company said development projects identified by the studies will spur further studies and partnering initiatives.

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