Australia has awarded acreage permits to Japan’s Inpex, TotalEnergies, and Woodside Energy Group to assess the feasibility of greenhouse gas storage off the northwest coast to reduce emissions.

The move is part of the Australian government’s plan to cut CO₂ emissions by 43% by the end of this decade and achieve its net-zero target by 2050.

Concerns are being raised by environmental groups who claim that carbon capture and storage (CCS) would extend fossil fuels usage, according to Reuters.

The three firms jointly secured one permit for evaluation and appraisal work on area G-7-AP in the Bonaparte basin, off the northwestern coast of the Northern Territory of Australia.

Inpex Australia president director Hitoshi Okawa said: “Acquiring this permit provides an exciting opportunity to prove up a large-scale carbon storage site in northern Australia, with the potential to become one of the largest CCS projects in the world.”

In addition, Woodside Energy has received a permit for area G-8-AP over GHG21-3 in the Browse basin.

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Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King said the government will finalise the award of all five new offshore greenhouse gas storage permits under the 2021 offshore Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release.

King added: “Carbon capture and storage has a vital role to play to help Australia meet its net-zero targets.  Australia is ideally placed to become a world leader in this emerging industry, with large, stable offshore geological formations for greenhouse gas storage.

“The award of G-7-AP is one of two acreage permits awarded in the past eight years and will help make a Darwin Carbon Capture use and Storage Hub a reality.”

Inpex will operate the Bonaparte CCS assessment joint venture with a 53% stake while TotalEnergies and Woodside will own 26% and 21% stakes, respectively.